Jim Leavitt is mad as hell, and he’s not going to take this anymore.
On Monday, Leavitt, the former football coach at the University of South Florida, announced that he would not calmly accept his dismissal from the program, a consequence of him allegedly hitting a sophomore running back. At a bland lectern, accompanied by the Men in Black, who some are referring to as his legal representation, Leavitt said that he belongs at South Florida and he is going to fight his opponents until he gets his job back.
With this being the prime mating season for universities and their elite football recruit crushes, it appears that this tomfoolery could not come at much worse of a time for USF. There has not appeared to be much of a coaching search other than the preliminary list of candidates for the job. With Leavitt trying to make a push to regain his job, whether it is successful or not, a cloudy forecast has been thrust upon the football team’s direction.
After all, it doesn’t seem like bringing Leavitt back would be that outrageous of a decision, at least in the locker room. This is nothing close to the Mike Leach fallout at Texas Tech. All players that have publicly spoken have been in full support of Leavitt and shown legitimate anger at the fact that he was fired. Even Joel Miller, the walk-on running back that Leavitt allegedly slapped during a halftime confrontation, has said that too much has been made out of the situation. Other players have said that they saw the entire thing and nothing unusual or wrong happened.
So where is the anti-Leavitt hostility coming from?
The primary sources seem to be the school’s administration and Richard Gonzmart, owner of Tampa’s famous Columbia Restaurant by day, one of USF’s top athletic boosters by night. Neither side has spoken deeply on the issue other than saying that Leavitt did something bad, and that the football team needs a fresh face. Fresh face is an understatement at a school that has only had one football coach for the entirety of its program.
The logical truth is that the USF administration and a small group of elite boosters have wanted Leavitt fired for at least one year. A slap story at halftime of a game against Louisville gave them a reason. It is difficult to blame them. Over the last three seasons, USF has been the football equivalent of the beautiful prom queen that shows up at the 10-year reunion overweight and unemployed. They are the only team in the FBS to begin the last three seasons with a 5-0 record. They have also ended those three seasons with trips to the Sun, St. Petersbrug and International Bowls. In short hand, they have choked. A lot.
The most frustrating thing for fans has been their inconsistency and curse of playing up and down to their opponents. The team looks highly focused and motivated when playing Florida State or West Virginia. That is not the case when they play Rutgers, who they have lost to four years in a row. Road games have been a big issue as the team never looks prepared for their trips to foreign environments. That is a coaching issue.
So Jim Leavitt, before you fight for your job from a legal standpoint, you shoud probably evaluate things from a football standpoint. How many coaches could let their teams crumble three years in a row and keep their job? It is a difficult loss to take for some because Leavitt literally is USF football. However, some decisions just have to be made.