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Leavitt's 2-Minute Drill Irks Media

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TAMPA - They came in droves to the University of South Florida's athletic facility Tuesday. Newspaper reporters from Tampa, Bradenton, Lakeland, Sarasota and Pinellas County along with an Associated Press reporter. Even all the local television stations showed up.

They all were there for USF's season-opening football news conference. It was a chance to interview USF coach Jim Leavitt for the upcoming season and Saturday's game against McNeese State and speak with quarterbacks Pat Julmiste and Matt Grothe about their ongoing battle to become USF's starter.

Leavitt took exactly 1 minute, 59 seconds to answer seven questions before leaving the room like his game film was on fire.

Roger Mooney of the Bradenton Herald, who drove 50 minutes from Bradenton and spent 10 minutes trying to find a parking spot, walked into the news conference at 1:03 p.m., just as Leavitt was leaving.

If Leavitt's two-minute drill wasn't bad enough, the quarterbacks never showed up, denying the media their only opportunity to interview them this week. Apparently, they were told by the coaches not to attend.

Lakeland Ledger writer Patrick Zier came specifically to speak to Leavitt and Grothe, a Lakeland Lake Gibson product.

Zier managed two questions: "Have you named a starting quarterback yet?"


"Will both kids play this Saturday?"

"Uh, unsure. Unsure."

"I think Jim's missing an opportunity to promote this program," said Zier, who has worked at the Ledger for 30 years. "He wants to bring the program up to the level of Florida, Florida State and Miami, but when he limits access and things like that, I think it makes it tougher for him to do that."

Since The Tampa Tribune reported Sunday that three USF starters have been suspended for a second positive drug test, Leavitt has been curt in his dealings with the media. He also banned his assistants from talking to the media this season, a first for Leavitt.

"Anyone who has spent any time at all with Coach Leavitt understands his intense focus," USF assistant AD John Gerdes said. "He has determined it is in his team's best interest to set all its focus on this week's opening game and if he believes that includes limiting media access, that's his call as the head coach."

Leavitt's two-minute drill also disappointed USF fans, who paid $8 for a week of USF's "Press Pass" service, which provided video of Tuesday's news conference. Brad Meyer, of Higley, Ariz., paid $79.95 for a year of USF's "Press Pass," which featured only 22 seconds of Leavitt's interview.

"There's some very good archived video and audio, but the news conference today was disappointing," said Meyer, who runs a USF fan Web site, TheBullsPen.com. "I had hoped to hear more from Coach Leavitt."

NOTE: USF announced a home-and-home series with N.C. State. The Bulls visit the Wolfpack on Sept. 27, 2008, and host N.C. State on Sept. 13, 2014.

Reporter Brett McMurphy can be reached at (813) 259-7928 or bmcmurphy@tampatrib.com.

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Win games, let the scoreboard talk...

This is teh way I see it ... and I have no problem with Leavitt being obviously pissed, but do agree that he does have some sort of obligation to the media to give them information.

But I think this will blow over and all will be back to normal ... which is Leavitt not giving much anyways. And coaches do not allow QB to talk during close battles of position all the time.

But ... the reporters are doing a job and these things happen some time. I do not know how many times I have went to a place to meet with someone I had an appt. with. And when I arrive, things change.

The customer is always right, and the USF Fams are basicly the customer of USF & the Media.

The job of USF is to WIN to make the customer H.A.P.P.Y.

The job of the media is to report about the team to make the customer H.A.P.P.Y.

Both NEED to do what they have to to make the customer H.A.P.P.Y. - NO EXCUSES !

Go BULLS !!!

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As the team gets bigger Leavitts gonna have to learn to deal with the media. Can you imagine he had teh media that was all over Zook when he had to replace Spurrier? Or the media that Coker had at the Fiesta Bowl in 2002.

Coaches are going to get questions from reporters...it's natural.

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What a big disappointment.  I understand CJL's frustration and still stand behind him.  However, this was not a good way to promote our football program or the university.  Sure he's under a lot of stress and probably still isn't feeling very well, but this was a huge opportunity to pump up reporters and fans for the season and it seems he didn't step up in that area.  Ah well, I'll still be there supporting my team on Saturday!!!

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