MANKATO, Minn. (AP) - George O'Leary could have gotten out of coaching after resigning in disgrace from Notre Dame just six days after becoming head coach.

But one job interested O'Leary.

That was an assistant position with the Minnesota Vikings, coached by Mike Tice, who played for the former Georgia Tech coach.

"The only job I was going to take this year was with Mike Tice," O'Leary said.

Tice hired O'Leary, his coach at Central Islip High School in suburban New York, to be his assistant head coach and supervise Minnesota's defensive linemen just months after his admission that he lied about academic and athletic accomplishments.

Tice loves having O'Leary around.

"It's been great," Tice said. "He has a lot of good ideas and good thoughts on things, and he's a good sounding board. He's a guy I can go to for advice."

O'Leary is proud of his protege's quick rise to a head coaching position. The 43-year-old Tice served six years as an assistant before the Vikings hired him to succeed Dennis Green.

"I believe in the way he does things," O'Leary said. "He's very organized, he's very compatible and not afraid to speak up for what's right or wrong. He's on target with everything."

O'Leary was a successful head coach at Georgia Tech for eight years before his hiring at Notre Dame. It lasted less than a week because he falsely stated - when hired as an assistant at Syracuse in the early 1980s - that he had a master's degree in education from New York University and earned three letters as a player at New Hampshire.

Now, he's just happy to be involved in football.

"Anytime you're on the football field, it's rehab," O'Leary said. "I wouldn't say it's therapeutic. I'm here to win. It's good for me."

Tice expects O'Leary to be a head coach again. O'Leary's not looking that far ahead.

"I don't know - we'll see how this develops," O'Leary said. "It's about the 1,000th time I've been asked that. Right now, I'm here with the Vikings, and I want to win. I love coaching."

Tice and his brother, John, were NFL tight ends for a combined 24 seasons. In high school, Mike was the quarterback and John was the center.

"That tells you what kind of talent scout I was," O'Leary joked. "I had to break up a fight with them once. But if you saw their dad, Jack, he'd give a look at both of them and their lips would twitch and they wouldn't say a word after that."

Linebackers coach Brian Baker, who coached with O'Leary at Georgia Tech, was moved from the defensive line to make room for O'Leary. Baker didn't mind.

"He's had a tremendous amount of success," Baker said. "He's very organized. He'll look you in the eye and tell you the real deal. He's also the kind of guy the players enjoy playing for, because you can trust him."

O'Leary insists that's true.

"I made, I don't know how many appearances on national TV and radio," he said. "I've been crucified enough for it. I put it in my place. Every time you go somewhere it's like, `Oh, there he is.' I made a mistake. You move on."

Predictably, none of O'Leary's charges were concerned with his past problems.

"We didn't get too much in depth with it," tackle Talance Sawyer said. "I knew he was going to be a good coach and a good guy just because of Mike Tice's recommendation. He knows a lot about the game. He's fiery, always keeping you riled up and motivated."

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