UCF athletic director Danny White has not been afraid to think big with his coaching hires. He has had to with all the change he has faced since becoming athletic director.
This sleeping giant of a program has needed some new blood to think more outside the box and meet some bigger expectations. George O’Leary showed what was possible but could not get them consistently tot he top of the mountain after a disastrous 0-12 season.
Hiring Scott Frost brought some fresh thinking to the program. Johnny Dawkins replacing Donnie Jones with some name power and prestige from his time with Duke. Katie Abrahamson-Henderson replaced Joi Williams with hopes of bringing a new press and demeanor to a moribund program.
UCF had to do the same when baseball coach Terry Rooney suddenly stepped down and left vacant a promising coaching position.
Florida, after all, should be a pipeline for baseball recruits. UCF baseball has had its flashes as a program and should be performing better. Especially in a market without a professional baseball team.
The Knights’ last two seasons under Rooney were certainly disappointing and got the pitch forks out by the time the season ended this year. Rooney leaving opened the door for another opportunity for White.
And it appears he has struck again.
New @UCF_Baseball HC Greg Lovelady spent 3 yrs at Wright State. Led Raiders to NCAA Regionals the last two.
— Joe Kepner (@JKepnerWFTV) July 11, 2016
UCF announced it has hired Greg Lovelady to replace Rooney as UCF’s new baseball coach.
Lovelady is a former player at Miami, winning two national championships. He has spent the last dozen years at Wright State, including the last three as head coach. He won the Horizon League Conference Tournament the last two years to get his team into the NCAA Baseball Tournament.
“I’m very excited about the pedigree Greg Lovelady brings with him to UCF,” White said in a press release. “With two national championships as a player at Miami and the success he’s had as a head coach at Wright State, he’s a proven winner. What he has accomplished during his tenure as a head coach is impressive. I look forward to seeing him continue to build on that sort of success with the Knights. I’m excited to welcome Greg, his wife Lindsay and their family to UCF.”
Lovelady does have an interesting pedigree. And plenty of success.
He is kind of the up-and-coming hire White has been known to make in his short time as athletic director at UCF. The kind that generates some excitement with a fresh voice and past success elsewhere. The kind of coach ready to take a step up.
Of course, many of these coaches are still completely unproven. No one is quite sure if they can succeed. There are a lot of questions about each coach and whether they can truly build a winner.
Their pedigrees all suggest they can. That is what White and UCF are banking on.
The entire athletic department has gone through a major overhaul in the short months since White took over. It seems to continue. And the Knights seem to continue winning the press releases.
In a few short months, they will see if they can win on the field.
Kaka expected ready for Wednesday
Orlando City star Kaka is expected to be ready to play for Wednesday’s game at Red Bull New York. Kaka has missed action because of a nagging calf injury. He has missed nearly half the games this season.
Kaka is still being evaluated and is day to day.
Obviously, Orlando City plays much better with Kaka. The team struggled creating offensive opportunities the last two games with Kaka on the shelf. Now the team has a new coach and a tough road ahead to stay in the playoff race.
Heading on the road, draws become more valuable, but the Lions need to stay on top too and remain in the postseason hunt. They have to make up some ground for the ties they have taken at home.
Orlando Magic begin construction of entertainment complex
Those going to the Orlando City soccer game Friday may have noticed some new dressing around the Amway Center on their bus ride to Camping World Stadium.
The Church Street parking garage across from Amway Center was fenced off and wrapped in quotes from team owner Rich DeVos about the future. It is the first sign of the team’s planned entertainment complex.
The Magic confirmed to Richard Bilbao of the Orlando Business Journal the team has begun preparing the property for demolition and construction of the long-awaited entertainment complex.
“As you know, this project represents a $200 million-plus investment by the Magic and its partners that will create jobs and provide dining, hotel and entertainment options, and continue the revitalization of downtown Orlando and the Parramore neighborhood,” a team spokesman said, noting the complex is still in the design phase.
The entertainment complex is planned for the property directly across from the Amway Center. It will feature shopping, retail, hotel and convention center space. The Magic hope it can replicate Beale Street in Memphis or L.A. Live in Los Angeles.
The Magic said in December construction would likely begin in the summer. It appears the Magic have taken a concrete step in that direction as the complete vision of Amway Center comes to fruition.