Dec. 10, 2001
By PAUL NEWBERRY
AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA — Georgia Tech didn’t expect to be looking for a football coach so soon.
George O’Leary, who signed a new contract last December, left the Yellow Jackets on Sunday when Notre Dame hired him.
Georgia Tech athletic director Dave Braine thought as late as Friday that O’Leary would stay in Atlanta.
“I don’t think this was an easy decision for George,” Braine said. “To be quite honest, I didn’t think he would take the job.”
Still, Braine insisted that he wasn’t caught off guard by O’Leary’s defection. Two days before Notre Dame fired Bob Davie, Braine and two of his top lieutenants, Sterling Brown and Larry New, began planning for that possibility.
“Why? Maybe it was just a premonition that Davie would be fired and we need to be prepared in case George does leave,” Braine said.
Assistant head coach Mac McWhorter will serve as O’Leary’s interim successor, coaching the Yellow Jackets (7-5) in the Dec. 27 Seattle Bowl against No. 11 Stanford.
McWhorter, who has been an assistant at Tech for nine years in two different stints, said he would like to be considered as a permanent replacement.
A 51-year-old Georgia graduate, he has coached at both of the state’s major schools, working on Bill Curry’s staff at Tech and Ray Goff’s staff at Georgia.
He returned to Georgia Tech two years ago to oversee the offensive line.
“I really like it here,” McWhorter said. “I came back here to stay.”
But he’s had only one season as a college head coach – at Division II West Georgia in 1989 – and isn’t likely to be one of the top contenders.
O’Leary signed a new six-year contract that paid him $1.1 million annually after the Yellow Jackets went 9-2 during the regular season in 2000.