Jim Leavitt's Plea Sounded Like a Recruiting Pitch

Tom EdringtonSenior Writer IJanuary 11, 2010

It is all so very sad, this latest chapter in the saga of Jim Leavitt.

Last Friday he was called in front of USF President Judy Genshaft and AD Doug Woolard. He was given a chance to come clean, to tell the truth.

Leavitt insisted he had done nothing wrong, even when confronted with the results of a nearly month-long investigation that Genshaft guaranteed was "fair and thorough."

Leavitt was fired, as we all know.

Monday, Leavitt sat at a press conference and brought out the alligator tears.

He brought forth a demand that USF give him his job back.

Fat chance.

He has a better chance of getting the job left vacant by Pete Carroll at Southern Cal.

Leavitt made his case Monday and it sounded like one of his classic recruiting pitches. He was the kindly Jim Leavitt, telling how he loves his players, how they are his life, how this job is his life. He told us it wasn't about the money. He told us how he made $75,000 his first season at USF, told how he took a $20,000 paycut from his job at Kansas State.

He nearly sobbed, whimpered a bit.

He was insistent he absolutely did not hit his player, Joel Miller.

Tampa attorney Barry Cohen begs to differ.

Cohen, the pitbull of all Tampa attorneys, now represents Joel Miller and his family.

"He (Leavitt) hit him," Cohen told the Tampa Tribune. Cohen would not make such a statement if Joel Miller was not prepared to testify to that fact in a court of law.

And that's where all this could head if Leavitt wants to drag it out.

While Leavitt maintains it's not about the money, there is a tad more than $7 million on the table if USF was not justified in terminating him.

A reasonable person has to believe that USF did not fire Leavitt until it had a small platoon of attorneys giving it the go-ahead.

Surely Genshaft and Woolard talked this over and surely they knew that Leavitt would not ride off quietly into the sunset.

What the USF administration needed was a load of proof that Jim Leavitt was a coach who lost his way.

He lost his way somewhere along his 14-year journey at the school. Somewhere, he was no longer the young, enthusiastic coach who worked hard to build a good, competitive football program for the school.

Somewhere along the way, Leavitt forgot that he was not the owner of the program, but the steward of the program, the caretaker of the program. It was not his; it belongs to the school, the state, and the community of supporters who gladly support it financially.

Leavitt, somewhere along the line, took ownership of the program. He let the power change him. He became a bully who wore out a revolving door of assistants who worked for him the past 13 seasons. Leavitt is the only constant.

Now Leavitt is crying for his job.

Won't work.

There is a difference between talking to an investigator and testifying under oath in a court of law.

There were players, perhaps, who clouded their stories to try and save Leavitt.

You have to ask if there is anyone who will perjure themselves for Leavitt?

It probably won't come to that.

But who's to say how this will turn out?

The only certainty is that USF is moving on without Jim Leavitt. The search for a new coach is in full swing and there will be one.

"It is my life," Leavitt said Monday during his press conference ramblings.

Correction, it was his life.

He will have to find a new one, somehow, somewhere else. 


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