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FAU’s List of Potential Coaching Candidates: Jim Leavitt

Jim Leavitt did wonders at USF and he’s continued his magic as the defensive coordinator at Colorado. Should FAU give the former USF architect a shot?

Pittsburgh Panthers vs University of South Florida Bulls Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Career Path: Jim Leavitt was the head coach of the USF Bulls for 13 seasons and finished with a 95–57 record (68-40 when USF joined the FBS). Leavitt would have been there for a few more years if not for a halftime incident in the locker room in which he chocked a player. After being fired for the incident Leavitt was a linebackers coach under Jim Harbaugh for four years. He joined Colorado’s staff as a defensive coordinator and linebackers coach in 2015 and was just named a Broyles Award finalists, which goes to the top coordinator in the country.

Buzz Surrounding The Hire: Due to his scandalous exit at USF the hire certainly wouldn’t fall under the radar. Leavitt is a well-known name in the state of Florida for his time in Tampa and it certainly would ruffle some eyebrows on the recruiting trail for better or worse. Some believe he shouldn’t be coaching college football.

What’s There To Like: Leavitt is known as a defensive mastermind and that is the weakest unit on the team right now to say the least. Given how quickly it took for Leavitt to turn around Colorado’s defense, many fans would expect him to do the same and with the talent on the roster he could very well do that. His experience as the head coach of USF would also be a plus. In the seven years he spent as an FBS head coach, he’s only suffered one losing season. He took USF to five bowl games and at one point had them ranked #2 in the country.

Why They Should Proceed With Caution: Leavitt hit a college football player. The negative press FAU would take for making him the head coach is obvious on the PR side. Does he have control over his anger to never do that again? On the field many believe Leavitt underachieved when USF was in the watered down Big East as they finished no higher than third place. Could he really help FAU reach their full potential in what is becoming a competetive C-USA in the coming years.

Why He Would Take The Job: It would be a second shot at being the main guy. At 59 years old he’s not going to get many opportunities at becoming the head coach again and what better opportunity would there be in taking over a school in a state he’s extremely familiar with. It would also be another shot to rehabilitate his image.

Analysis: Leavitt would be highly revered at USF if he did not strike a player. He built their program from the ground up and took them to unprecedented heights that they are just now eclipsing under Willie Taggart seven years later. The guy can flat out coach. Especially defense.

Out of all the hires FAU could make Leavitt would be safest as I have a hard time imagining he wouldn’t be successful here. With that said I don’t think FAU would ever reach their potential with him as the head coach either. He underachieved in the Big East against mediocre competition. Some fans will be on board due to his past success at USF and his recent success at Colorado. But some will not be able to get past that incident in the locker room (and his temper tantrums on the sideline). I’m one of them. Although hiring Leavitt would lead to some moderate of success, I don’t think it’s worth the baggage and would reek of settling. On a scale of 1-10 this hire would be a 6.


Mario Cristobal