Editor's note: The following column has been corrected to reflect a walk-on UCF player who was charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence in April.
Amid all of the criminality and corruption, misconduct and malfeasance in big-time college football, UCF coach George O'Leary is conducting his own internal investigation in an attempt to find the perpetrator of a heinous atrocity at UCF.
O'Leary is visibly upset that one of his players has committed the unthinkable crime, the unpardonable sin.
"Somebody broke the toilet-paper dispenser in the locker room," O'Leary said during an interview with the Sentinel at UCF's media day Thursday afternoon. "We don't do that stuff here. You don't destroy team property."
And now you know why UCF hasn't had a scholarship player arrested in nearly a year and a half. Other coaches recruit sexual predators, armed robbers, maybe even future mass murderers.
O'Leary is trying to nab the great toilet-paper vandal.
"You don't mess with UCF toilet paper," UCF center Joey Grant says and smiles. "It's Charmin Ultra. Very soft and very expensive."
Can you believe there is actually a football program in the crime-infested state of Florida that hardly ever has a player arrested? In this day and age, when there's an epidemic of knucklehead college- and pro-football players getting booked for bar fights, sexually assaulting women and even getting accused of murder, it sure makes you appreciate O'Leary's program even more. As O'Leary enters his 10th season at UCF, you can count the number of players he's had arrested on two hands.
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has had more players arrested this summer (three) than O'Leary has had arrested in three years. Granted, Meyer has won two national titles and O'Leary has won none, and, sadly, maybe that's the trade-off. As Bobby Bowden once said, "If discipline won national championships, Army or Navy would win it every year."
Still, when you consider the number of malcontents and miscreants polluting the college-football landscape, O'Leary's ability to keep players off the police blotter is incredible.
I was recently at the SEC's preseason Media Days, where you couldn't help but shake your head at LSU coach Les Miles trying to downplay the "legal entanglement" of star running back Jeremy Hill. Legal entanglement is coachspeak for Hill being arrested for sucker-punching someone in a bar parking lot after already being on probation for a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl. According to police, Hill and a friend pressured the girl into performing oral sex in a locker room.
Of course, players committing crimes in the SEC is not exactly shocking news, evidenced by defending national champion Alabama dismissing four players who were arrested in February for on-campus robberies.
Even Vanderbilt coach James Franklin was peppered with questions at SEC Media Days about four of his players who were recently dismissed from the team amid a sex-crimes investigation stemming from an alleged sexual assault at a campus dorm.
Meanwhile, the University of Florida has spent much of the offseason trying to distance itself from former Gator and alleged murderer Aaron Hernandez, who shamefully has become the national poster boy of Meyer's outlaw UF program.
When Meyer was at UF, he used to say the Gators recruited only the "top 1 percent of the top 1 percent" of high-character prospects. And that's the difference between Meyer and O'Leary. Meyer talks about recruiting character guys; O'Leary actually does it.
Not long ago, the UCF coach was visiting a talented recruit whom O'Leary said was disrespecting his mother. O'Leary got up, said goodbye, walked out of the house, and that was the end of UCF's recruitment of the player.
"If he's going treat his mother like that, he's not going to change when he gets to college," O'Leary says. "I would rather recruit a kid who may be a half-step slower but is a better person. In the long run, your program is going to be better off, and you're going to win more games."
Another reason O'Leary has had so few players arrested is because he keeps tabs on every player who might be going down the wrong path. He solicits information from anybody and everybody — his seniors, his strength coaches, even tutors and teachers.
"Coach O'Leary has eyes everywhere," says junior wide receiver J.J. Worton, the last UCF scholarship player to get arrested back in March 2012. "He knows things instantly."
Grant to a reporter at Media Day: "I think Coach O'Leary is listening to our conversation right now."
Sean Maag, a third-team walk-on and special teams contributor, broke up O'Leary's arrest-free streak when he was charged with driving under the influence in April. He entered a not guilty plea.
Most of UCF's players live within a block of the football complex and know their head coach is always watching. Sometimes, O'Leary even leaves his car in his parking space and gets a ride home just so his players think he is on the premises.
O'Leary, too, is the ultimate enforcer. His players know if they are someplace they shouldn't be, it's the head coach they must answer to.
Maybe this lack of oversight is why Meyer had so many issues at Florida. He recently told The Gainesville Sun that when Hernandez and three other former UF players were questioned by police about a shooting in Gainesville, he never even spoke to the players about it.
When O'Leary is queried on whether he would ask his players why they were questioned by police in a shooting, his eyes grow wide.
"Would I ask them about it?" O'Leary says incredulously. "You're damn right! They'd be in my office, and I'd say, 'What the hell is going on here, son?'"
It's called accountability, and George O'Leary demands it.
It's an incredibly refreshing approach in a college-football world that all too often looks like used toilet paper being flushed down the commode.
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