Did Jim Leavitt REALLY Just Do That: Another Jab at UCF

Jon ReinContributor IAugust 13, 2009

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)

Let's first get some facts out of the way for anyone who feels like arguing after they read this:

South Florida holds an undefeated record against UCF.

The only time the Knights played the Bulls to the wire was at home (at the Citrus Bowl in 2006 and Brighthouse Networks Stadium in 2008).  At Raymond James Stadium, they were annihilated.

Because of these two points, USF decided to no longer pursue a series of games with UCF, pointing out that playing the Knights does not benefit them in terms of BCS rankings down the road.  What would be a great in-state rivalry has been put to pasture, and until the games are consistently competitive, it's with good reason.

That being said, was it really necessary for Jim Leavitt to take a jab at the Knights in a Big East Media Day interview?

When asked about the prospects of UCF joining the Big East if the conference were to expand, he was able to find a way to take a team that he no longer has to ever worry about and kick them while they're down.  Here's an excerpt from the interview:

"Yeah, but I don't think that's going to slow down the Big East. I think what's going to happen is 'Is it best for the Big East?' The bottom line is I don't think they really blew people away last year. I don't think they're looked at as a juggernaut right now. I think the only way the Big East would add is if it's something very unique. I think we all know that. Is there interest? I think there's always interest, but the Big East paid pretty good money last year. They're not poverty stricken, I don't think."

This is a school that's still reeling from the death of wide receiver Erick Plancher and the subsequent investigation into the team's conditioning and training regiments. (Notice how nothing was said about the team's performance.  There's no excuse I can make to put a positive spin on a 4-8 season.)

I hate to break it to USF fans everywhere, but the South Florida Bulls aren't exactly a juggernaut themselves.

For the past three years, USF has been the trendy "sleeper" of the Big East according the ESPN.  And in each of those years, they have found a way to choke down the stretch.  This is a team that is very similar to the UCF team of last year in that the offense ineffectively runs the ball and all the pressure is put on the shoulders of the quarterback (in this case, Matt Grothe).

What exactly does USF provide the conference that makes them more worthy than the Knights?

Great place for recruiting? 

Sure is, but both USF and UCF still have to compete with the big three (Florida, Florida State and Miami) for the first-tier recruits.  This is very much like the state of Texas (Baylor competing with Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech), only there's less talent to go around. 

Facilities?  They share an NFL stadium with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which in theory sounds great.  However, as a fan who has made the trip to Tampa for a UCF/USF match-up, the trek for USF fans from campus to the stadium could be the ultimate headache, as opposed to having a near-campus or on-campus alternative, which would probably look more attractive to prospects. 

Pro Factory?  The jury is still out on first-rounder Mike Jenkins (as it normally is with rookie cornerbacks), but UCF has been able to send out more impact NFLers in recent years, including Asante Samuel, Brandon Marshall, Kevin Smith and former Madden cover boy, Daunte Culpepper. 

Advantage? UCF hands down.

The point is that even in the world of college football, he who is without sin cast the first stone.  Before a coach goes on about how inferior a program is to theirs, they should do something (i.e. win their conference or get a BCS bowl bid) and convincingly beat these supposed inferior teams instead taking them to overtime (as they did with last year's disappointing Knights).  Until then, let the higher ups at the Big East decide on who should get that potential bid.


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