A lot has changed since the world emerged from the COVID-19 lockdowns, which was the last time we ranked the UCF Knights assistant coaches of years past.
In just three years since, several coaches have added to their legacies, while others burst onto the scene and made their presence felt.
With UCF getting ready for its first year as a member of the Big 12 (and in the Sun Belt in Men’s Soccer), it’s time the count down the Top 30 Assistant Coaches in UCF History.
Criteria used to create this list include:
- A coach’s impact on their respective team and on the school
- Accomplishments during and after their tenure
In case you missed #30-11. click the link below to check them out:
Now, let’s finish the countdown:
#10 - Tim Sahaydak (Women’s Soccer)
Tim Sahaydak was hired as UCF’s associate head coach in 2013 after spending six seasons at VCU alongside his co-head coach, wife and current UCF head coach, Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak.
In his time, Sahaydak helped bring three American regular season championships (2013, 2014, 2017and 2022) and four NCAA Tournament appearances (2013, 2014, 2015, and 2017) with a run to the Sweet 16 in 2014.
He also took over head coaching duties for his wife when they conflicted with her role as an assistant coach for the U.S. Women’s National Team. He had to do so at least a couple of times in 2022 and is poised to do so again to start the 2023 season, should the U.S. Women’s National team make a deep run in the World Cup.
#9 - Jenny Maurer (Volleyball)
Jenny Maurer joined the Knights in 2016 after spending five seasons as the head coach at Bradley. As associate head coach, she was in charge of recruiting, running the offense, and coaching the setters.
Among her recruiting achievements include bringing in both McKenna Melville, who went on to become an All-American and the program’s all-time kills leader, and Amber Olson, who ended up in the Top 3 in career assists and Top 10 in career digs in program history.
In seven seasons with the Knights, Maurer has helped the Knights to six 20-win seasons (the 2020 season was only 18 matches long), including trips to the 2017 National Invitational Volleyball Championship, five consecutive NCAA Tournaments (reaching the Round of 32 in 2019, 2021 and 2022) and five consecutive AAC Championships (2018-2022).
Maurer was promoted to the program’s head coach on May 18, 2023, following the departure of Todd Dagenais to the Atlanta Pro Volleyball Federation franchise.
#8 - Gene Chizik (Football)
Before making his name at Auburn, Gene Chizik served as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach at UCF from 1998 to 2001. At UCF, Chizik took the Knights’ defense from 81st nationally in total defense before his arrival (1997) to 16th in the country in 2001.
While at UCF, Chizik frequently visited practice sessions of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, studying the team’s defensive scheme developed by then-head coach Tony Dungy, defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, and linebackers coach Lovie Smith. Chizik went on to be the defensive coordinator at Auburn (2002-2004) and Texas (2005-2006) before becoming head coach at Iowa State (2007-2008) and then at Auburn (2009-2012), where he won the BCS National Championship in 2010 with Cam Newton at QB.
Chizik was also the defensive coordinator at North Carolina (2015-2016), which is also where he finds himself today under Mack Brown. He took the job in 2022 after several years of TV work as an SEC Network analyst.
#7 - Bill Barker (Men’s and Women’s Soccer)
Bill Barker was the right-hand man of Jim Rudy on both the men’s and women’s soccer teams from 1983-1988.
He helped the men’s soccer team transition into the Division I era while the women’s Soccer team sought to follow up its 1982 NCAA Championship game appearance.
Barker would help both Knights squads to winning records every year as an assistant, including two more NCAA Tournament appearances for the women’s soccer team (1984 and 1987).
On the men’s side, he worked with the likes of Rony Francois, Ian Gill and Mark Lamb. On the women’s side, he worked with the likes of Michelle Akers, Amy Allman and Kim Wyant.
Upon Rudy’s departure from UCF to take the UMass women’s soccer head coaching job in, Barker took over as head coach of both teams from 1988-1992, coaching future UCF Hall of Famers Karen Richter and Kelly Kochevar.
He too moved on from UCF to take up the Georgia women’s soccer head coaching job from 1994-2000.
Nowadays, Barker is back in Orlando, working as a Planning and Knowledge Management Coordinator for the UCF College of Medicine.
T-#6 - Craig Cozart (Baseball)
Craig Cozart moved up the ranks from a player at UCF (1993-1996) to a student assistant coach to associate head coach. At UCF, Cozart helped as part of Jay Bergman’s staff to a 455-274 overall mark during his 12 seasons (1997-2008) with five NCAA Tournament appearances (1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004), three regional finals (2000, 2001, 2004), four A-Sun regular season championships (2000, 2001, 2002, 2004) and three A-Sun Tournament championships (1997, 2001, 2002).
In his role as the pitching coach, Cozart built a tradition of pitching excellence. Cozart coached Justin Pope and Jason Arnold to All-America honors in 2001. Pope went on to be drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round, while Arnold was a second-round pick of the New York Yankees.
Three pitchers from Cozart’s 2004 staff were drafted, including Matt Fox in the first round by the Minnesota Twins and Kyle Bono in the eighth round by the Boston Red Sox. Bono earned the largest signing bonus in draft history for an eighth-rounder. In addition, junior lefty Jaime Douglas was a 26th-round selection of the Anaheim Angels.
Fox and Bono were both named All-Americans in 2004. They formed one of the nation’s elite pitching tandems. Fox finished the year 14-2 with a 1.85 ERA while Bono was 8-2 with a 1.94 ERA and was second-team All-America. The pair was part of a pitching staff that finished 10th in the nation in ERA with a 3.42 mark and broke a school record with 13 shutouts.
Cozart took over as the Knights’ interim head coach during the 2008 season after Jay Bergman’s retirement. Following that, he was hired as the head coach at High Point, where he spent 13 seasons before both sides mutually parted ways in the summer of 2021.
Nowadays, he is the National College Scouting Coordinator for Perfect Game USA.
T-#6 - Alan Gooch (Football)
Alan Gooch began his association with the UCF Knights program as a defensive back in 1981 before spending 22 seasons as a member of the coaching staff.
He started his coaching career as UCF’s recruiting coordinator in 1983. Gooch also coached the secondary for his first few years then took over coaching the linebackers. In 1986, he became responsible for the running backs. Over the next 17 years, all 31 running backs finished their eligibility and received degrees from UCF.
In 1997, Gooch was named the Assistant Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association. He was also a finalist, along with North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith and Grambling head coach Eddie Robinson, for the Giant Steps award in the coaching category, where he finished runner-up to Robinson.
He was named assistant head coach in 1998 and took over as interim head coach at the end of the 2003 season. He now works as the Executive Director of the Cure Bowl.
#5 - Donna Fishter (Women’s Soccer)
Donna Fishter joined Amanda Cromwell’s UCF women’s soccer coaching staff as an assistant in February 2000. UCF has a legacy of great goalkeepers and Fishter played a big part in developing some of the best in program history, including Jessica Kuhlman, Jennifer Manis and All-American and Olympian Aline Reis.
During Fishter’s 13 seasons at UCF (2000-2012), UCF had a record of 187-77-25, with eight conference championship titles between the ASUN and CUSA to go along with 10 NCAA postseason appearances and a run to the Elite Eight in 2011.
#4 - Mike Kruczek (Football)
A former QB for the Pittsburgh Steelers during their Super Bowl-winning days in the 1970s, Mike Kruczek became the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at UCF in 1985. He served in that role from 1985-1997 as part of Gene McDowell’s staff.
He was an early offensive pioneer, creating an innovative 5-wide receiver offense around QB Darin Slack that sparked the Knights to the NCAA Division II playoffs in 1987 and Division I-AA Playoffs in 1990 and 1993.
Kruczek was elevated to UCF’s head coach position in 1998 when McDowell was forced to resign due to a cellular phone fraud scandal. Kruczek’s run as coach benefited from the fact that he inherited future NFL Pro Bowl quarterback Daunte Culpepper as a recruit from the McDowell era.
In his first season, he led the Knights to a 9–2 record and had a verbal commitment to playing in the first Oahu Bowl. However, those plans were dashed when Miami upset undefeated UCLA, and the resulting domino effect left the Knights out of what would have been their first bowl game ever.
Another highlight was an upset win over the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2000, which gave UCF its first victory over a program from a BCS conference.
Following his time at UCF, Kruczek returned to the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals (2004-2006), went to the United Football League with the California Redwoods (2009) and the Sacramento Mountain Lions (2010-2011), reuniting with Culpepper. He briefly returned to college football with UMass (2012) before returning to Florida to become the head coach at Trinity Preparatory School (2013-2022), where he coached UCF tight end Alec Holler.
Nowadays, he is the offensive coordinator at The Master’s Academy under his son, Garrett.
#3 - Colby Hale (Women’s Soccer)
Colby Hale spent nine seasons in Orlando working under Amanda Cromwell, helping the Knights to 130 wins, six conference championships (four Conference USA, two ASUN), seven NCAA Tournament bids and eight postseason wins.
Hale left UCF after 2011 to become the Head Coach at Arkansas, where he has led the Razorbacks to nine NCAA Tournament appearances in 11 seasons, including three Sweet 16s appearances (2013, 2021-2022) and back-to-back Elite 8 appearances (2021-2022).
#2 - Charlie Taaffe (Football)
A football lifer of the highest order, Taaffe came to UCF after a long run in the CFL as a head coach. During Charlie Taaffe’s six seasons on UCF’s staff as the offensive coordinator and QB coach under George O’Leary, the Knights won 55 games and appeared in five bowl games, winning three of them. Taaffe was part of back-to-back American Athletic Conference titles (2013-2014).
Taafe retired following the 2014 season and passed away from cancer on October 29, 2019, at the age of 69.
#1 - Sean Beckton (Football)
A member of the UCF Athletics Hall of Fame, Sean Beckton had several stints on the Knights coaching staff over 17 seasons. He was part of four conference championships (2010, 2013, 2014, 2017) and seven bowl games, winning four of them, including the Liberty Bowl (2010), Fiesta Bowl (2014), and Peach Bowl (2018).
From 1996-2003, Beckton was UCF’s wide receivers coach and worked with Siaha Burley, Doug Gabriel, Jimmy Fryzel, Brandon Marshall and Mike Sims-Walker. Gabriel, Marshall and Sims-Walker all played in the NFL.
He left the program to coach for the Orlando Predators and returned to UCF as a defensive backs coach. From 2009-2011, he worked with future NFL players Kemal Ishmael and Josh Robinson.
From 2012-2015, Beckton returned to coaching receivers, working with a couple more future NFLers in Breshad Perriman and Tre’Quan Smith, plus XFLer Rannell Hall.
Beckton would move on to coach tight ends under Scott Frost from 2016-2017. Moving to the position with him from the wide receiver room were Michael Colubiale and Jordan Atkins, the latter of which is entering the sixth year of his NFL career.
Beckton would follow Frost to Nebraska in 2018 and would stay there for Frost’s entire tenure with the school until 2022. During this time, despite the Cornhuskers’ losing records, he got to work with Jack Stoll, who is entering his third season with the Philadelphia Eagles, Austin Allen, a Big Ten Tight End of the Year and First-Team All-Big Ten selection in 2021 and a practice squad player for the Green Bay Packers, and Travis Vokolek, a 2023 undrafted free agent signee of the Baltimore Ravens.
Beckton’s son, Sean Beckton Jr., currently works for the UCF Football team as an Assistant Director of Sports Performance.
With that, this list comes to a close. Did we get it right? Let us know below.