George O'Leary has been the Knights' head football coach for nine seasons. During that time he has helped build UCF Football into the program it is today. One way O'Leary plans to continue building the program is by putting together a challenging non-conference schedule, which includes playing schools from Florida.
On Saturday, the Knights will play FIU in the second game of a four-year series. Last year, the Panthers defeated the Knights 17-10 at FIU Stadium. O'Leary is hoping his team will send Knights fans home happy after their first home game of the season.
"I mentioned to Todd [Stansbury] that I'd like to play in-state schools," O'Leary said. "I'd like to keep that up when we head to the Big East, whether it's them (FIU) or someone else."
Next season, UCF will face two Sunshine State rivals. As part of its move to the Big East, UCF will play USF as part of the conference schedule. The Knights will also return to Miami to take on FIU in 2013.
"I think it's great for the fan base. I think it's great for the state. I think it's great for our kids," O'Leary said. "There are a lot of rivals there and a lot [of players] from the same high schools."
O'Leary and the rest of the Knights expect a large, energetic Bright House Networks Stadium crowd on Saturday. While O'Leary and the Knights would like to see a different result from last year, they know that once they step between the white lines, a result from last season has little bearing on the game at hand.
"I think all losses should sting. I remember every one of them in 44 years," O'Leary said. "We have another opportunity to face them this Saturday and we're working hard to get things done right, but I don't get into that stuff from last year. I personally avoid that with the team. I always talk about their team is different and our team is different. That's the way I look at those things."