USF Football: Source Says Backups Speak BS; He's Too Leavitt To Quit

Edwin Bear@ IJanuary 12, 2010

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 2:  Coach Jim Leavitt of the University of South Florida Bulls directs play against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Raymond James Stadium on October 2, 2008 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Word around the University of South Florida campus is former head football coach Jim Leavitt’s “slapping” incident wouldn’t have leaked if senior wide receiver Colby Erksin remained on scholarship.


Leavitt got the pink slip Friday after an investigation determined he grabbed sophomore running back/ special teams player Joel Miller by the throat and slapped him twice during halftime of their Nov. 21 game against Louisville and then lied to cover up the incident. 


Miller didn’t want to snitch and risk losing playing minutes, his scholarship, or his spot on the team so he asked Erksin what he should do about the incident, according to this Fan House report.  Erksin told Fan House reporter Brett McMurphy about the conversation. 


“Erksin’s mad because USF pulled his scholarship,” a USF alumnus said, who wants to remain anonymous.  “The kid tore his ACL three times and USF told him to get lost.”


Erksin, originally a walk-on, earned a scholarship in 2007 for being one of the fastest kids on the team, running below a 4.3- 40 yard dash.  Since then Erksin tore his ACL three times in three years.


Leavitt informed Erksin in October 2008 he wouldn’t be on scholarship for the 2009 season.  Erksin took less classes figuring he would have to pay tuition, but then was notified he was still on scholarship in July ’09.  Taking less classes cost Erksin a shot at a double major by December of 2009 when he graduated with a criminology degree.


This obviously irked Erksin, but this alone couldn’t get him to complain and risk losing a shot at a sixth year of eligibility with the NCAA, something Leavitt would need to approve.

Once Erksin got word of Leavitt mistreating Miller physically Erksin told McMurphy, who is known around Tampa for his negative publicity on the USF program.  McMurphy previously worked as USF’s beat writer for the Tampa Tribune. 


“(McMurphy) was fired a couple months ago from the Tampa Tribune for continually negatively reporting on USF,” the USF alumnus said. “His last article with the Tribune said that our freshman defensive end Ryne Giddens is a racist because he got in a shoving match with a white offensive lineman at practice and called him a cracker.”


Below is the link to a video of Leavitt’s reaction when McMurphy asks him a positive question at a press conference.


“McMurphy hates Coach Leavitt,” the USF alumnus said.  “So far since he’s worked for Fan House three of the four articles (McMurphy’s) written has bashed USF.”


Not everyone hates Leavitt.  Most of the players loved him; even the athletic department loved him.  He would run wind sprints with the players during practice and sprint on the field out of the tunnel for the games.  He would act like Ray Lewis on the sidelines whenever something meaningful happened during a game.


Jim Leavitt is to USF as Howard Schnellenberger is to UM, but now Leavitt won’t get the chance to bring any championships to South Florida and he may not get a chance to coach again because his reputation is ruined due to an in house matter made public by two people that have a grudge against the man.


After Erksin told McMurphy the story he requested to not attend their International Bowl Game, which USF won 27-3 against Northen Illinois, because he wanted to stay back and rehab his knee.  Leavitt cleaned out Erksin’s locker and threw all his belongings in a trash can. 


That seems petty, but for Erksin to even request a leave of absence from a bowl game is idiotic.  It doesn’t take much to fly to a bowl game with your team even if you aren’t playing, and especially if you’ve received free tuition three years straight just for tearing an ACL every season.  That’s not being a team player.  Really, that’s trash and obviously Leavitt felt the same way.


Miller is at the center of all this and he still went to the International Bowl Game.  Not only did he go, he played!  He started on special teams like he does every game so obviously this issue wasn’t that big of a deal to Miller since he played or to Leavitt since he played Miller. 


Now that the season’s over and Leavitt’s gone the Miller family hired an attorney to get some money out of this situation. Leavitt is fighting the firing and the allegations.


Oh… what has college football come to?  I’m not saying its right to hit a player, especially at the collegiate level, but I’m sure Vince Lombardi (yes I know he wasn’t a college coach) never had to worry about his players snitching or suing for him getting “out of hand” after a player made a mistake.