ORLANDO, Fla. -- UCF football coach George O'Leary continues to move swiftly to remake his defense following the end of a disappointing 2011 season.
Ted Roof was named the Knights' new defensive coordinator Thursday. Roof was a member of O'Leary's staff at Georgia Tech from 1995 to 2001. Roof spent his final three years there as defensive coordinator with the Yellow Jackets.
The announcement came a day after UCF officially accepted an invitation to join the Big East Conference. O'Leary fired former defensive coordinator John Skladany, linebackers coach Al Seamonson and director of player personnel Albert Boone two days after Knights' season finale. He recently hired Drew Hughes from Alabama to fill the player personnel post, but is still looking for a new linebackers coach.
Roof said he is starting immediately and won't be on the sidelines with Auburn when it takes on Virginia in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl Dec. 31. Auburn coach Gene Chizik said he will handle the defensive coordinator duties during the game.
Roof said that because of the timing of the hiring he didn't even get a chance to address the entire defensive group he was leaving behind.
"What happened was there were finals this week, so our guys are scattered," he said. "So I grabbed as many as I could, texted as many as I could, [and] called as many as I could. Our guys understand. They understand the business side of it.
"Auburn's a wonderful place as well and we had a lot of success. We're getting ready to play for our 30th win in three years. But at the same time this opportunity came along and it was just too good to pass up for myself and my family."
Roof signed a three-year contract with Auburn earlier this year paying him $500,000 a year, but a young Tigers' defense was 78th in total defense (406 yards per game) and 79th in scoring (29.3 points per game) a year after their national title run.
Chizik, who previously was an assistant at UCF, issued a statement Thursday thanking Roof for his time with the Tigers.
"Ted has played an important role in the success of our football program, helping Auburn win 29 games in three years, including a national championship last season," Chizik said. "I'm very appreciative of the passion, energy and work ethic Ted brought to the program every day. I know that this will be a great opportunity for Ted to be reunited with his mentor in George O'Leary and we wish him and his family nothing but the best at UCF."
Roof takes over a UCF defense that led Conference USA in several major defensive categories, but had trouble stopping teams late in games during a disappointing 5-7 season.
O'Leary said he interviewed several other candidates, but Roof was his initial target in the beginning of the search. He said their previous familiarity and his coaching philosophy are a good match to help get the defense back to performing to his expectations.
"Ted was a very demanding coach, but I think he really coached with tough love," O'Leary said. "Players always loved playing for him and I think he got the most out of the talent base that we had to work with - the sign of a good football coach...And he's a team guy. He's not just about defense. He understands special teams and offense and that all three have to do well to win football games."