UCF's O'Leary not retiring, but is thinking about future

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) UCF football coach George O'Leary isn't ready to retire. But some offseason changes to his staff could be a glimpse of the program's future when he does.

O'Leary officially announced the retirement of 64-year-old offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe this week, ending his five-year tenure at UCF.

That move caused a flurry of reshuffling among his assistants, including the promotion of longtime assistant Brent Key to offensive coordinator, the hiring of Chuck Bresnahan as defensive coordinator, and the changing of several job titles among the Knights' remaining assistants.

After dismissing talk of his own retirement prior to this past season, the 68-year-old O'Leary said again Friday that he still wants to be on the sideline as he enters his 11th year in Orlando.

The Knights are coming off their seventh bowl appearance under O'Leary, who will enter the 2015 season having produced four, double-digit win seasons and taken the Knights to seven bowls during his tenure.

"I love the competition. And as Bobby Bowden said, there's only one great event after you retire...That's your funeral. So I'm trying to avoid that one," O'Leary said. "I was home over Christmas and I gave thought to it and stuff. But there's only so many times a day you can walk the dog. You can't go from 100 miles-an-hour to zero. "

When asked if elevating Key to offensive coordinator was a nod to a potential coach-in-waiting, O'Leary hinted that is somewhat in the back of his mind.

"Ideally you try to place people in position to take over if you retire. And that's pretty much what I've done everywhere I've tried to be as far as coaching," he said. "But I think the culture of the program is what it is. They know what we are as far as football, academics, socially, and I think you'd want to continue that.

"But that's an administrative decision."

The grooming of Key as offensive coordinator may have started halfway through the 2014 season, when he went from the sidelines during games to booth with Taaffe.

Key said now he wants to concentrate on improving an offense that struggled at times in 2014 following the departure of quarterback Blake Bortles to the NFL.

As for what could happen when O'Leary does retire, Key said there's "no doubt" he wants to be a head coach one day, and was flattered to hear his name mentioned last season as possible successor to O'Leary.

"There's no doubt that being an offensive coordinator was an aspiration of mine, and being a head football coach is an aspiration of mine," Key said. "When I sat out in the coaching profession almost 15 years ago now I said I wanted to be able to coach and do it at the top of the profession, and see where that led. And that's still goal of mine and a heavy aspiration.

"If the opportunity shows itself here at UCF that'd be outstanding."

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Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/khightower

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