Central Florida coach George O’Leary compared the SEC to the South heading into the Civil War in a column in today’s Orlando Sentinel.
“They sound like the South during the Civil War,” O’Leary told Mike Bianchi “If they don’t get their way, they’re going to secede and start their own country. … I think college football is in real trouble.”
He’s upset that the SEC and college football’s other strong conferences — the Power 5 — are threatening to create their own division if they “don’t get the autonomy to create their own by-laws … under the NCAA umbrella,” Bianchi writes.
“The thing that’s disturbing is that college football has been fighting for years to create a level playing field and now they’re trying to go the other way and create an even wider gap between the haves and have-nots,” O’Leary said. “I think some of these schools have forgotten where they came from.”
That would leave schools with up-and-coming football programs — like UCF — out of the picture.
“I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Why should Mississippi State, Wake Forest, Purdue and Iowa State get to be part of the Power 5 when they bring nothing to the table? UCF, the second biggest school in the nation in the 18th-biggest TV market, has much more to offer in the form of growth potential, cable TV subscribers and recruiting base. But because Mississippi State was around 100 years ago when the SEC was formed and UCF wasn’t, it’s Mississippi State that is now part of college football’s most powerful league.”
O’Leary, who coached at Georgia Tech from 1995-2001 and at Notre Dame for five days, will receive a $1 million bonus if he remains with the Knights for the next two seasons. He will make $2 million in the deal that runs through 2017.
O’Leary has had great success at UCF, leading the Knights to 10 or more wins in three of the past four seasons, with three bowl victories.