Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Should Notre Dame Have O'Hired O'Leary?

With this wacky season winding down it's time to take a look at one storyline that's excited some fans, and has been utterly devastating to others. I'm talking about the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and their dismal 3-9 season.

It's been six seasons since the George O'Leary hiring controvery at Notre Dame, and many people probably have forgotten about it. However, with the team's struggles under Weis this season it provides a good platform for a game of "what might have been". In this case, we'll compare what O'Leary has done at UCF to what Weis has accomplished at Notre Dame.

In case you're not aware, O'Leary has been the head coach at UCF for a year longer than Weis has been at Notre Dame. This does give him a bit of an edge in recruiting his own players, and installing his system successfully. However, most of the numbers we'll be dealing with are percentages which should help even things out a bit more.

Winning Percentage
Weis: 22-15, 59%
O'Leary: 21-27, 43%

Bowl Games
Weis: Fiesta Bowl('05), Lost 34-30 vs. OSU; Sugar Bowl('06), Lost 41-14 vs. LSU
O'Leary: Hawaii Bowl('05), Lost 49-48(OT) vs. Nevada

Record Against Top 25 Teams
Weis: 5-9, 35%
O'Leary: 0-5, 0%

Best Record In A Season
Weis: 10-3, 2006
O'Leary: 9-3, 2007

Even with the dismal season of 2007, Weis has achieved a bit more success than O'Leary. Obviously, getting top ranked recruits to Notre Dame is a bit easier than trying to do the same at the number four or five program in the state of Florida.

However, over the past two seasons O'Leary actually has a bit better winning percentage, 54%, than Weis, 52%. He also has UCF headed to a possible conference championship, and is in line to have UCF playing in their second bowl game in four years.

Whether or not Notre Dame should have hired O'Leary despite his resume inconsistencies remains to be seen. However, if UCF duplicates the success its achieved, especially in 2007, over the next few years, and if Notre Dame continues to struggle under Weis, then some may look back and question Notre Dame's decision not to keep O'Leary back in 2001.

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