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O'Leary: USF-UCF series to be resumed

TBO.com
Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 02:57 PM
TAMPA -

 The "War on I-4" may soon be waged again.

The annual matchup between the South Florida Bulls and the Central Florida Knights will return by 2015, according to UCF head coach George O'Leary.

"We're on the docket to play a home-and-home series and we'll try to make that a yearly thing, hopefully every Thanksgiving," O'Leary told the Tampa Bay chapter of the UCF Alumni Association on Thursday.

"That's something that is a no-brainer. For the life of me I don't understand why people don't want to do that."

The series has been dominated by USF, which won all four contests between 2005 and 2008. Following the Bulls' 31-24 win in 2008, then-USF head coach Jim Leavitt was adamant about removing the natural rivalry from the yearly schedule.

"It is a win-win when you get two nut-job fan bases at the same game. I think it will make for a great weekend," said O'Leary, a three-time Conference USA coach of the year. "Skip (Holtz) agrees with it, so you know it is something that should be done."

But is the renewal of the in-state rivalry a signal of a possible future conference rivalry?

"This was on the docket before that," said O'Leary. "The only thing we can do with the Big East is continue to win and be consistent with our program. I think if we end up there, great."

The Knights are coming off their best season ever, finishing 2010 with a 11-3 record to claim the Conference USA title. They also collected their first-ever bowl win after shocking Georgia in the Liberty Bowl and ended up ranked 21st in the nation in the AP poll, ahead of both Miami and Florida.

"To be honest, I think the Big East is fine from a money standpoint with the TV market. That is the benefit of the BCS. As far as the football side, look at the USF schedule in November and look at their record. It's very difficult to take a Florida team to Connecticut on a Friday night in 10-degree weather. It doesn't jive," said O'Leary. "If we can get there I think it is great for the school but I don't think we should go begging anyone to get anywhere."

With a heralded class of incoming freshmen recruits, O'Leary feels he will have the firepower to end USF's dominance once the series returns.

"I hope so. They've had our number so far."

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