ATLANTA – Georgia Tech head football coach George O’Leary signed a new contract Thursday, December 14 which includes a substantial raise and likely means the Tech grid boss will finish his coaching career on the Flats.
The term of the contract is six years with a rollover provision, same as his previous contract, with a total annual compensation of $1.1 million. O’Leary’s base salary will be $270,000, with $366,000 in compensation from his radio and television shows, $150,000 from apparel agreements, $250,000 for speaking engagements to alumni groups, and the remainder in deferred compensation.
“When you have a man who is right for your program, you want to keep him,” said director of athletics Dave Braine. “We’re very fortunate that our football program is in very good hands. George O’Leary is the right man for Georgia Tech. He understands the academic system here, he is a great football coach, he is a disciplinarian, and he makes our kids do what they are supposed to do.”
One of America’s most respected football coaches, George O’Leary, 54, has the hardware to prove it after guiding Georgia Tech’s storied football program back to national prominence.
“I’m very happy to have a contract that allows me to finish my coaching career at Georgia Tech,” said O’Leary, who has been named the Atlantic Coast Conference coach of the year for the second time in three seasons. “Georgia Tech came to me and initiated this new contract, and I appreciate that very much. I’m proud to be here, and it’s gratifying that Georgia Tech wants me to be its football coach for the long term.”
In what many had expected to be a rebuilding year for Tech, O’Leary has steered the Rambling Wreck to a 9-2 record, a second-place finish in the ACC at 6-2, and a berth in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. The Yellow Jackets earned their fourth straight bowl trip, a first for the program since the days of Bobby Dodd, whose Jackets played in six straight bowls from 1951-56.
Despite the loss of Hamilton, the Rambling Wreck offense again proved to be one of the nation’s best, ranking among the nation’s top 20 in scoring, total offense and passing. But it was the improvement of Tech’s defense in 2000 that was perhaps the hallmark of O’Leary’s sixth edition. Despite starting six freshmen and sophomores, the Rambling Wreck ranked 12th in the nation in rushing defense and 21st in scoring defense, allowing just 19.0 points per game.
Senior offensive tackle Chris Brown became Tech’s third first-team all-America honoree in the last three seasons. Brown was also among the eight Yellow Jackets who earned first or second-team all-ACC recognition, giving Tech a total of 34 all-conference selections in O’Leary’s six seasons.
One trademark of O’Leary’s tenure on the Flats is a skillful and experienced staff of assistant coaches. Following Tech’s season-ending victory over arch-rival Georgia, offensive coordinator Ralph Friedgen was named the head coach at Maryland. Friedgen, winner of the 1999 Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach, is the second O’Leary assistant in the last three years to graduate to a head coaching position. Former defensive coordinator Randy Edsall moved on to become the head coach at Connecticut following the 1998 season.
During his six-plus seasons as head coach, O’Leary has an overall head coaching record of 45-27 (.625). His 45 victories rank fourth among all Tech head coaches, bettered only by the Hall of Fame trio of John Heisman, William Alexander and Bobby Dodd, while O’Leary’s winning percentage is surpassed only by Heisman and Dodd. Over the last three seasons, O’Leary has guided Tech to a 27-8 record (.771).
O’Leary’s record includes losses in 1994 when he coached the last three games of Bill Lewis’ final season, giving him a 45-24 mark (.652) for his six full seasons. O’Leary has compiled a 32-18 record in Atlantic Coast Conference play, more ACC victories than any previous Tech head coach.
With 45 victories, O’Leary has won more games in his first six seasons on the Flats than any previous Tech coach. The venerable Dodd managed 42 wins in his first six years.