Blog Entry

O'Leary and the high horse he rode in on.

Posted on: July 21, 2008 9:31 am

Wow, does George O'Leary have a set.

As you'll see below the Central Florida coach is refusing to speak to the Orlando Sentinel for what he says are errors in its coverage of Ereck Plancher's death. By the way, O'Leary, in Mike Gundyesque fashion, has refused to name those "errors." 

Of course, if there is anyone who knows about misinformation it should be O'Leary. Let's not the forget that the only reason he's at UCF is because of that little scandal at Notre Dame. O'Leary had years to own up to his little white lies and didn't. The Sentinel is begging him to tell it what it did wrong. Instead, O'Leary is pouting and acting like Harry High School. The coach has dragged this issue into the gutter by refusing to speak to Sentinel reporters at Conference USA media days. If they sit at a roundtable with other reporters, the interviews are over.

Classy, George. Punish everyone for the perceived slights of one.

Where is AD Keith Tribble to tell O'Leary to cut this crap out right now now?

Where is Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky to privately tell O'Leary to cooperate during one of the conference's signature events?

So now we're down to a pissing match. O'Leary has aliented the hometown newspaper. This might be different if the Sentinel had an agenda or had actually gotten stuff wrong, but the paper has professionally covered this story from the start.

UCF staffers are the ones that look bad. They have mismanaged the information to the public from the start. Coaches have a bad track record of trying to control the media. They look oafish and amateurish. They are out of their element.

The media, UCF and O'Leary won't have to wait much longer. This is small stuff compared to when the Plancher eventually files its lawsuit against everyone who even drove by the UCF campus the day their son died.

The news:

O'Leary declines to talk with Sentinel at C-USA media days

Iliana Limón
Orlando Sentinel
21 July 2008

UCF football coach George O'Leary declined to talk with the Orlando Sentinel at the Conference USA media days. He also did not let players Pat Brown and Joe Burnett grant interviews to the newspaper. Ryan Powell, who handles media relations for the UCF football program, also said O'Leary refused to speak with any other members of the media if a Sentinel reporter was at his table during other interviews.

O'Leary said during his Florida Sports Writers Association media day press conference Thursday that he would not speak with the Sentinel corrects errors in its coverage of UCF football player Ereck Plancher's death. The Sentinel has repeatedly asked UCF to point out specific errors so that the newspaper could investigate the problem and publish corrections, but O'Leary and UCF officials have declined the newspaper's request.

The reaction:

Category: NCAAF

Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: July 24, 2008 12:50 pm

Dodd, If you really believe what you wrote

So Dodd, now that all of the amatuer posters on here have done your reporting homework are you going to admit that you didn't do yours?

You really owe it to us and to yourself.

PS I don't expect you to, but I would think more highly of you if you did.

Since: Jul 23, 2008
Posted on: July 24, 2008 12:05 am

Dodd, If you really believe what you wrote


If you really believe what you wrote, then you are just as much of a "hack" as the so called journalists at the Slantinel.

With my B.A. in Journalism, I would be embarassed to have my name associated with the trash that the Slantinel has printed concerning Plancher's death.  The paper has been dishonest from the very beginning for all of the reasons that others here have mentioned.

Instead of sticking up for your fellow "journalists," perhaps you should have taken a little bit of time to find out the truth.

Since: Oct 1, 2007
Posted on: July 23, 2008 11:23 pm

O'Leary and the high horse he rode in on.

That's funny you mention mat drills, because I believe that is one of the factual errors O'leary wants the Sentinel to correct.  These were not mat drills. 

The Orlando Sentinel did not reports on ANY of the facts from the 90 minute meeting they had with O'leary following the tragedy.  They also did not use any statements from the player's official depositions.  Instead, they wrote based on statements "four anonymous sources".

They also interviewed a former QB who is will known to despise O'leary for benching him.  They actually wrote "he was lucky to get out [of one of O'leary's practices] alive".  If I'm coach, I'm livid because they are essentially pointing the finger at HIM.

That's what they did, and coach is absolutely right to not talk to them until they clear up what they've been reporting and strongly implying.

Since: Jun 4, 2007
Posted on: July 23, 2008 5:03 pm

O'Leary and the high horse he rode in on.

LOL . . . you are such a tool.

Since: Jul 23, 2008
Posted on: July 23, 2008 3:27 pm

O'Leary and the high horse he rode in on.

I don't agree - but I was following your train of thought and saw where you were coming from up until you said that the Sentinel handled this professionally from the beginning.

While it is a matter of opinion, I think a very good case can be made.  I was not one of the UCF fans who jumped to defend our coach from the start.  I wasn't one that became angry at the Orlando Sentinel simply for covering the story and making it front page news - we all know what sells.

But throughout the coverage we have seen multiple articles all saying the same thing in just a different way.  Business as usual?  Fine.  However then we saw a myraid of columns and editorials mixed in blurring the line between facts and opinions that jumped to conclusions and made presumptions.  On top of that a bunch of blog postings, some of which have even been taken down as they had become subject of ridicule not only from the UCF fanbase but from readers across the board.

There is a difference between 'stirring the pot' and trying to cause distress.  There is a difference between reporting or commenting on news and creating news.  The Sentinel has not shown the ability to distinguish these differences.

Just one example of this is a 2 page interview with former quarterback Steven Moffett.  Moffett, who was recruited by former coach Mike Kruczek, did not get along with O'Leary - it's impossible to know the reasons as an outsider, but suffice it to say, he didn't win as many games for us as he lost and is now playing in a minor league Arena team of some kind.  I struggle to find his relevance to this story as he has been out of the program for 2 years except for he, like the Sentinel, had something bad to say and was willing to have it printed.

Since: Jul 23, 2008
Posted on: July 23, 2008 3:07 pm

O'Leary and the high horse he rode in on.

Well, first start with the article "Motivation different than Intimidation", and understand that it was written well before the autopsy was released. Basically pins Ereck's death on O'leary right from the start using his poor relationship with a previous QB as evidence.

I think Bianchi's article this past weekend sums it up.

"Cause of death: Mat drills.

That's what the autopsy report should have said Friday."

Right. "Should have said". Then goes on to rail against UCF, matt drills, etc. (note: UCF maintains that Ereck was doing agility drills at the time).

Unfortunately for the Sentinel, the true story behind all this isn't as interesting as much as it is tragic. No amount of finger pointing on their part is going to make people forget that the paper issued an inaccurate judgement before the autopsy was even released.

O'leary has this one right, and considering that the sad reality is that another sickle cell death will likely happen at another school in the future, everyone should be paying attention to the liability aspects of all this.

Since: Jul 23, 2008
Posted on: July 23, 2008 3:02 pm

O'Leary and the high horse he rode in on.

In regards to passing the physical, that is true.  EP did in fact pass the physical; however, that doesn't have anything to do with the sickle cell trait.  People with a sickle cell trait are still healthy for physical activity.  Remember, 10% of African Americans have this trait, and it is generally nothing to be concerned with.

Since: Jul 23, 2008
Posted on: July 23, 2008 2:55 pm

O'Leary and the high horse he rode in on.

The problem with this whole fiasco, from what I have read is this:

- Apparently EP died due to a sickle cell trait issue that he had.  This is not a death sentence, and is in fact a trait that is found in approximately 10% of African Americans and almost never leads to death.  Only 9 athletes have died due to this trait in the last 7+ years.  Death from this trait can come from any real physical exertion, and is totally random.  The first of the 9 athletes mentioned above died after running one 700 foot sprint.  EP could have died walking up the stairs or mowing the lawn.

- I have read all of the articles from the Orlando Sentinel, and it is pretty clear that they are trying to pin the death on George O'Leary.  They have done everything but come out and say it was his fault specifically.  In fact, I recall one article soon after this incident where they went and found Stephen Moffett, an ex-UCF QB who was benched during his senior season due to poor play, and they interviewed Moffett and had him tell them how bad of a person O'Leary was as a coach.  He yelled at poor Stephen and benched him, and made him sad.  That was the gist of the article, from what I could gather.  The most damning was the last lines that went something like, "Moffett was lucky to have escaped UCF with his life.  Ereck Plancher was not."  To me, that is a pretty terrible thing to write.

- As for the 4 anonymous players, there are a number of issues.  First, there have been rumors that these 4 players were in fact fabricated sources used by the Orlando Sentinel, but I'm not sure I believe that entirely...although it's possible.  The biggest issue with the 4 sources article was that the newspaper absolutely (and I can assure you of this 100%) searched up and down through the roster just hours after their teammates death and was asking them for any information.  They assured confidentiality and many players felt they were being led towards saying very damning things about the coaching staff, no matter whether they were true or not.  What the Sentinel ultimately used was the information that O'Leary was pushing Ereck Plancher and yelling at him to finish.  They said he cursed at him too, which quite frankly I find irrelevant.  He's a football coach for crying out loud.

- As for the sickle cell trait issue, the school has stated that they knew of the sickle cell trait and that they told Ereck about it.  From what I've been told those are true statements (they knew and EP knew).  UCF did not and could not give this information to the Sentinel after his death due to federal HIPPA laws for patient privacy, and as a result UCF could only say they do not know what could have caused the death.  The Sentinel has taken this to mean that UCF was hiding the fact that they knew he had a sickle cell trait and ignored the federal laws on the subject.  They have continued to criticize the administration for that.

- The big mistake that the administration did was trying to get the information out to the public too quickly, it seems.  UCF officials stated that the workout was only 10 minutes long, when in fact it was that particular running station that was only 10 minutes long.  They misinterpreted the information that was given to them.  The school has since admitted that they made mistakes immediately following Ereck's death in communication of what happened, and has apologized (via the Sentinel actually), but the Sentinel doesn't seem to acknowledge that for some reason.

- Ereck was a redshirt freshman and had been through a year of these workouts before, most actually were tougher.  Both the school and Ereck knew of the trait he had and the rare chances it carried for injury, but Ereck continued to play.  The Sentinel says his parents didn't know, but they were not even contacted after the ME's report came out as they were out of the country.  How did the Sentinel know his parents had no idea he had the trait?  The Sentinel made that up.  Then they wrote an article that said the family was frustrated.  They were still out of the country!  His friends were frustrated, according to the article (not the headline) because they didn't know of this trait.  Is that a huge deal?  The Sentinel also reported that UCF had stiffed the parents in regards to the funeral expenses just days after the funeral because they hadn't paid, with this information coming from EP's dad.  What they didn't say was that UCF was still collecting all of the receipts and would pay when they got everything together.  The Sentinel also asked Plancher's dad, who had nothing to do with planning the funeral and does not live with EP's mom, and had no contact.


These are just some of the errors that I have seen the Sentinel write in their paper.  UCF officials held a 90 minute meeting with Sentinel reporters that outlined all of the issues they have had with the reporting after the CUSA media day where O'Leary first said he wouldn't talk to the Sentinel.  The Sentinel hasn't reported that or the contents of that meeting.  However, I know for a fact that the officials and coaches specifically went through all of the errors in the Sentinel's reporting there.  It wouldn't behoove the Sentinel to report about that meeting or correct those errors.  They have been far too stubborn, and in my opinion have clearly had a bone to pick with George O'Leary in regards to this tragedy.  It's a witchhunt as far as I've seen, which is a crying shame because we are losing sight of the big issue here.  A great young man lost his life doing something that he loved in a completely freak accident.  Sometimes things just happen.  We don't need to place blame on somebody for everything.

Since: Jul 21, 2008
Posted on: July 22, 2008 7:52 pm

O'Leary and the high horse he rode in on.

Wow, caps and all, ooh scary. Sounds like a response I would get from the Slatinel. The first thing they got wrong was hiring these sensationalist writers,which I take it now is what you are, the second thing they got wrong was publishing what they write. Have you even read the stories they wrote right after the death of EP. The first article they write basically said GOL killed EP, another one they wrote, they went out and dug up our crappy QB from a few years ago and he told them GOL is mean and they end this article with "At least he is still alive" talking about the whiny baby QB. Why don't they interview Kyle Israel our latest starting QB, or Kevin Smith, or any of the hundreds of other players that have nothing but good things to say about GOL. Then they go on campus and hunt and hunt for the 4 "anonymous:" kids that are grieving the most and manipulate what they say into another story that says GOL killed EP. WHY DONT YOU RESEARCH AND FIND OUT FOR YOURSELF WHAT THE SLATINEL DID WRONG, THAT IS YOUR JOB AFTER ALL AND THAT IS HOW YOU ACT PROFESSIONAL, but from the sound of it you are in bed with Limon and the other crappy writers at the Slantinel, so I guess I can not expect much more than what you have written. GOL is doing what needs to be done, you people write crap all the time with no remorse and no one to hold you accountable, I am gald it is our Coach who is standing up and taking a stance.

Since: Jan 7, 2007
Posted on: July 22, 2008 3:48 pm

O'Leary and the high horse he rode in on.


No one knew about the heart condition until it was too late. The March 18th article reports that the young man had passed a physical. There was absolutely no mention of a heart condition. Deaths don't happen "at a major college level program." They happen everywhere. These kinds of deaths do not descriminate and the ailments that cause them are usually extremely difficult to spot and diagnose. So what if the University and the coaching staff are blackballing the media! What business is it of theirs anyway? This is just a big song and dance freak show to them and they could care less about the kid's death. All they want to is to move newspapers and sell ads. If you learn anything from this...Newspapers don't report on things for their concern for humanity. They want to make money, and sensational stories involving death and corruption are what the peddle to get it. I would have no problem with the Sentinal if they would just report facts and not attempt to ruin a man's reputation simply because he won't voluntarily submit to their anal exam.  

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