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UCF downfall began with the firing of David Kelly


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Aritcle

 

Finally, after the devastation of getting fired, the destruction of his career and the depression that followed, former UCF assistant coach David Kelly wants to get back into college coaching.

The shame of it is that — in a perfect world — Kelly should be getting ready to take over for his old boss, George O'Leary.

That seemed to be the master plan four years ago when Kelly was UCF's assistant head coach, wide receivers coach and recruiting dynamo whose South Florida pipeline was so extensive that Miami recruits were starting to call UCF the "New U." The charismatic Kelly was well on his way to being O'Leary's successor at UCF.

"I didn't care who we were recruiting against," Kelly says now. "I knew what UCF had to offer as far as resources, facilities and education. My mentality was always, 'Why not UCF?' I believed in UCF and I was aggressive in selling the school to recruits."

 

Unfortunately, the NCAA found him to be too aggressive and he was fired in the aftermath of an NCAA investigation in 2011. Kelly has steadfastly denied the NCAA findings that he violated NCAA recruiting rules during his interaction with Ken Caldwell, a Chicago resident who mentored high school football and basketball players. School officials — Kelly, athletics director Keith Tribble and basketball coach Donnie Jones — were all accused of allowing Caldwell to insert himself into the recruiting process and steer athletes to UCF.

Tribble and Kelly were fired after NCAA investigators accused them of ethical misconduct, alleging they lied during interviews with school officials and NCAA representatives. Jones survived although he was hit with a three-year "show-cause" sanction by the NCAA.

"I was totally devastated," Kelly says of his dismissal. "I put my entire heart and soul into helping UCF rise to the top."

In hindsight, the day Kelly was fired four years ago was the precursor to UCF's current 0-9 record and the premature retirement of O'Leary. Kelly deftly and defiantly went into South Florida and recruited the entire receiving corps — Breshad Perriman, J.J. Worton, Rannell Hall and Josh Reese — that would help lead UCF into the Fiesta Bowl two years ago.

Also on the Fiesta Bowl team was Storm Johnson, the star running back whom Kelly helped convince to sign with UCF after he made the decision to transfer from Miami. Those who follow recruiting closely will tell you Kelly was instrumental in signing nearly half the UCF starting lineup in the Fiesta Bowl.

"To see Coach O'Leary and those players hoisting that trophy at the completion of the Fiesta Bowl — even though I wasn't there to be a part of it — it was one of the most joyous times of my life," Kelly says.

It's not just coincidence that since Kelly's dismissal, the talent level at UCF has steadily dwindled, the South Florida connection has dried up and UCF is freefalling. The sad part is this could have all been avoided because Kelly didn't need Ken Caldwell to help him land recruits.

What's always baffled me is that none of the players Kelly ever recruited to UCF has ever been linked to NCAA violations. I always thought Kelly's biggest misjudgment was going along with Tribble, the athletics director who invited Caldwell into the program.

And I also found it a bit strange that NCAA investigators said Kelly lied to them, but we never found out what exactly he lied about. In fact, he claims, NCAA officials have never revealed what he said to make them think he was not telling the truth. And, yes, Kelly admits he wonders about NCAA investigators who worked UCF's case — some of the same investigators who were later reprimanded for fraudulently conducting an investigation at Miami.

UCF had a postseason ban overturned and was allowed to go to the Fiesta Bowl after it won an appeal in which the NCAA admitted it had been "excessive" in its punishment of the Knights. Kelly, without the immense monetary backing of a state university, didn't have the financial wherewithal to appeal his case. So he took his one-year "show-cause" penalty, coached for a couple of years in the Canadian Football League, served as coaching intern for the Arizona Cardinals and now is searching for another college coaching job.

Here's hoping he gets one.

"What happened at UCF was such a blow to me that I didn't have the courage to admit to anybody that I wasn't ready to get back into college coaching," Kelly says. "Up until now, I wasn't ready emotionally or mentally. I was too devastated."

Four years later, you wonder if his dismissal was more devastating to David Kelly's career or UCF's program.

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Still wondering why Taggart didn't hire him onto the staff this past off season. His daughter is on USF's volleyball team.

Even though he said he didn't do anything.. it's still his point of view and perspective.  And who knows if he could be lying since he's trying to keep is future career afloat.

It would probably be highly damaging to a the reputation of a program in the middle of a complete rebuild to hire someone that was just fired for NCAA violations which also that led to  punishments

 

Just like Leavitt, he has to go the pro route to build his creds back up before he can get back to the NCAA level (which is what he's doing with Arizona.)

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Even though he said he didn't do anything.. it's still his point of view and perspective.  And who knows if he could be lying since he's trying to keep is future career afloat.

It would probably be highly damaging to a the reputation of a program in the middle of a complete rebuild to hire someone that was just fired for NCAA violations which also that led to  punishments

 

Just like Leavitt, he has to go the pro route to build his creds back up before he can get back to the NCAA level (which is what he's doing with Arizona.)

I don't think he was lying. He still claims to this day he didn't knowingly lie in his NCAA interview. He is a good man that players loved. His one mistake was with a Football Player that never stepped foot on campus and even that rule break was with good intentions. It's no coincidence that the drop off happened with Coach Key as Recruiting Coordinator

 

 

 

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