Congrats to University of Central Florida head football coach George O’Leary (above), who in a roundabout way, might finally have made people forget the circumstances surrounding his dismissal from Notre Dame. The UFC Athletics Association was found negligent yesterday in the wrongful death trial of Ereck Plancher, with the school on the hook for $10 million, and while the Orlando Sentinel’s George Diaz insists “no one is suggesting that O’Leary ran a player to death,” that’s EXACTLY the conclusion many are left with. In the eyes of SB Nation’s Brian Floyd, O’Leary’s irresponsibility is nothing short of “astounding, yet all too common in college football.”
Since Plancher’s death, little has changed in the college football world. Players still run the gauntlet during the spring practice period and in weight rooms throughout the offseason. Just this year, players at Iowa did squats until they dropped, resulting in 13 hospitalizations. Immediately following the incident, Iowa worked to protect itself and the coaching staff, just as we’ve seen Central Florida do in the Placher case. Nothing has changed, even though it should have.
Central Florida is appealing the decision and $10 million in damages, but why? Plancher’s family finally had some kind of closure — though there will never truly be closure in a case such as this — and UCF decided to drag it out. The trial was already a stressful experience, forcing the family to re-live Plancher’s dying moments over two weeks of testimony. His mother and father were forced to listen as teammates recounted the moments after he collapsed on the field and before he passed.
How much is a life worth? When is it time to just eat the cost, let the university’s insurance pay the punitive damages and allow the Plancher family to move-on? Appealing the decision shows an appalling lack of common sense and sensitivity.