We conclude our top 30 assistant coaches rankings with the top ten assistant coaches.
#10 - Ray Ridenour (Men Basketball)
Ray Ridenour, Torchy’s trusted UCF assistant (1974-80) remembered, “The highlight of my career was working with Torchy. When people ask me if he got mad or was tough, I always answer ‘Yes,’ but he was funny and good. There was always humor in everything he did.” ‘Torchy’ @ Amazon pic.twitter.com/dgyxNgQ7QK— Bo Clark Basketball (@BoClarkcamp) August 20, 2020
Ray Ridenour was assistant coach under Torchy Clark from 1974-1980 for three Sunshine State Conference championships (1976-1978) and 4 NCAA Tournament appearances (1976-1978, 1980), including trip to the Division II Final Four in 1978.
#9 - Rick Stockstill (Football)
Rick Stockstill has been the Head Coach at Middle Tennessee since 2006. But among his stops prior to Middle Tennessee included one in Orlando, as assistant head coach and wide receiver coach at UCF from 1985-1988 under Gene McDowell. Among the wideouts Stockstill help develop included Ted Wilson, who was first UCF receiver taken in the NFL Draft, as well as UCF Hall-of-Famers Benard Ford, Shawn Jefferson and Sean Beckton.
Stockstill was part of a staff that led UCF to the semifinals of 1988 NCAA Division II Playoffs.
Stockstill would move on to be an assistant at Clemson (1989-2002), East Carolina (2003), and South Carolina working under Steve Spurrier (2004-2005), prior to landing the head coaching job at Middle Tennessee State, where he has led the program to eight bowl games and 91 wins going into the 2020 season. Stockstill is a three-time conference coach of year, winning the honor twice in the Sun Belt (2006, 2009) and once in C-USA (2018).
#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 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) before going into TV work. He is currently an SEC Network analyst.
#7 - 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 guided the 2008 UCF pitching staff to a No. 4 national ranking in strikeouts per nine innings with 537 strikeouts for the year, the second-most in program history at the time. Currently Cozart is Head Coach at High Point which he has been there since 2009.
#6 - Alan Gooch (Football)
Alan Gooch began his association with the UCF Knights program as a defensive back in 1981 before spending 22 season 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 - 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 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. Kruczek is also part of our Top 40 UCF Head Coaches of All-Time.
#4 - Colby Hale (Women’s Soccer)
Colby Hale spent nine seasons working under Amanda Cromwell, helping the Knights to 130 wins, six conference championships (four Conference USA, two Atlantic Sun), 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 six NCAA Tournament appearances in his first eight seasons.
#3 - Charlie Taffe (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).
#2 - 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 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 A-Sun and C-USA to go along with 10 NCAA postseason appearances and a run to the Elite Eight in 2011.
#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.
In April of 2009, Beckton returned to UCF and worked as the defensive backs coach from 2009-11 before gong back to the wide receivers from 2012-15.
As a DB coach, Beckton developed Josh Robinson and A.J. Bouye, who both also played in the NFL
From 2016-2017, Beckton served as the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator for Scott Frost. His work in recruiting rejuvenated UCF’s standing with high school coaches in Florida, and he also coached Jordan Akins, who is currently with the Houston Texans.
Beckton is the only UCF assistant coach to have worked for Gene McDowell, George O’Leary and Scott Frost. He left with Frost for Nebraska, where he still coaches tight ends.