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Trib: Detractors don't bother USF's Leavitt


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Detractors don't bother USF's Leavitt

By JOE HENDERSON | The Tampa Tribune

Jim Leavitt seemed surprised.

Complaints? About his football team?

"To be honest with you, I don't hear it," he said.

Well, the head coach has to be the only one, then, who hasn't heard the backlash from the 31-0 beating the University of South Florida took last week at Rutgers. All you had to do was check the usual locations - message boards, call-in shows, or the guy sitting next to you at work. USF had barely trudged from the field in New Jersey before the first "Leavitt must go" e-mail showed up in my inbox.

"That's just people talking. All I think about is practice today. I get too confused if I don't," he said.

Here's something that isn't confusing: The loss to Rutgers dropped USF to 16-17 overall in their four-plus years in the Big East. The Bulls are 4-8 in conference play over the last two seasons, but the frustration goes deeper than just the record. The inconsistency drives people crazy.

For every signature win like the Bulls had this year against Florida State and West Virginia, both ranked at the time, there follows a pratfall on the big stage.

They were blown out in the second half by Cincinnati, which was playing with its backup quarterback much of that time after starter Tony Pike got hurt.

They were routed at Pittsburgh. And the Rutgers result was simply inexplicable for a team that had worked back into the national rankings.

That game sent USF fans reaching for the nearest computer keyboard in search of a place to vent. Or, in some cases, to the nearest telephone. One caustic wit left several suggestions on the voice mail of offensive coordinator Mike Canales. We'll leave you to guess the specifics.

"It wasn't very nice," Canales said. "But it also drives you."

For those who wonder, Leavitt is under contract through 2014. He makes $1.6 million per year and increases annually. Basically, he gets 75 percent of that money if he is replaced before the contract expires - not that anyone has to worry about that. Grumbles aside, he might have the most secure job in the nation.

Even if there was a movement to raise enough money to buy him out - which there isn't, and there shouldn't be - Leavitt is golden with the USF administration.

"You want to know the truth? I've gotten a ton of support, calls and notes like that," he said. "Maybe it's just because my secretary throws away the e-mails. I haven't heard any of it, but I don't live in that world."

It's fair to say the perception of the program is far different outside of Fowler Avenue. That charming story about spending the formative years of the program working out of trailers only has so much mileage. Right now, USF football is housed in a state-of-the-art athletic center and people have begun to demand more.

They tend to notice that the loss to Rutgers was USF's third in its last four games, and the Bulls have been outscored 106-31 in those losses. It's the third straight year the Bulls have collapsed in midseason after a strong start, too.

"I want to win every game. Nothing more is going to bother me than me," Leavitt said.

Leavitt talked about replacing injured Matt Grothe at quarterback with freshman B.J. Daniels, and how that skewed the curve a bit. He talked about redshirting most of his talented freshman class this season, which will build depth. He expects to bring in a strong recruiting class again next year.

"It all depends how you look at it. Is the cup half full or half empty?" he said.

Oh, it's half and half.

College fans can be the most irrational beings on the planet, but most of the time they are harmless. Should USF beat Louisville this Saturday in the homecoming game, then follow that with wins against Miami and UConn, all will be forgiven. The Bulls might actually get back in the rankings and we'll all be talking about how Leavitt kept a firm hand on the wheel after the Rutgers debacle.

Games like that make you want to throw a shoe through the hi-def and the inconsistency of this team can drive a person to drink - either from a half-full or half-empty cup. But if you do, just remember these parting words from Leavitt.

"Will I be here forever?" he said. "No, I won't be here forever - but as close to it as I can get. I'm going to try."

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Ok, Leavitt has 4 more seasons to win the Big East (Contract negotiations would probably start in 2013) if he does not thank him for his service and 2014 is his last year.  Fair to me and fair to him.  Put the pressure on him and give him money for his staff so he can put the pressure on them as well.

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Detractors don't bother USF's Leavitt

Well, the head coach has to be the only one, then, who hasn't heard the backlash from the 31-0 beating the University of South Florida took last week at Rutgers. All you had to do was check the usual locations - message boards, call-in shows, or the guy sitting next to you at work. USF had barely trudged from the field in New Jersey before the first "Leavitt must go" e-mail showed up in my inbox.

What about ESPN commentators, opposing team, national sports writers, etc.  Sorry Trib, however, your Bullspen Mafia imitation is a dead ringer  :D

College fans can be the most irrational beings on the planet, but most of the time they are harmless. Should USF beat Louisville this Saturday in the homecoming game, then follow that with wins against Miami and UConn, all will be forgiven. The Bulls might actually get back in the rankings and we'll all be talking about how Leavitt kept a firm hand on the wheel after the Rutgers debacle.

If the fans are donors (and they are), then don't be so quick to claim that this kind of repeated failure causes no harm.  USF has to pull money from somewhere else if donor dollars start evaporating.  Play disgusting football, and expect disgusted fans to reduce their contributions.  That is harm that hurts.  Instead of having a traveling group of fans that can help support you in the away games, getting blown out by conference rivals prevents fans from committing to follow the team to those venues and impacts which bowls are likely to select you and that causes harm. Playing disgusting football also means less time on national TV and the exposure needed of programs wishing to grow and draw upper tier recruits.

"Will I be here forever?" he said. "No, I won't be here forever - but as close to it as I can get. I'm going to try."

I like the positive attitude and I hope that it will reflect in our upcoming games.  I personally would like to see him here until he wants to leave but we have to have an end to this midseason crap and repeated failures against Cincy, Rutgers, Pitt and UConn.  Overall, the article seemed to be dismissive of fans and criticism which is not very smart in this current economic climate.  Besides the fact that it wasn't completely honest of the repercussions.  JMHO

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Jim Leavitt dismissive of fans?

Was that on his glare patches?

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For what it's worth, coaches can't care about message boards or talk radio.

It's not like CJL doesn't know he was hired to build a successful program.  At first, success was playing games. Then it was doing well (beating the #1 team in I-AA! Beating a Top 25 team! Surprising Pitt!.  Then it was getting into C-USA. Then it was getting into a BCS conference.  Those all happened quickly... 1997 to 2003. WOW.

But we live in a "what have you done for me lately world."

The BCS invite was 2003.  Our first season was 2005.

For USF fans, we haven't had to wait THIS LONG for the "next success".

Leavitt knows that.  But he's not going to respond to every Tom, ****, and Harry out here ******** and moaning about how he seems to have peaked and now we're on some kind of downhill slope sliding into the anonymity of Washington State or Baylor or Vanderbilt.

Just because the uphill slope has changed (dramatically) doesn't mean it has reversed direction. Think of it like this - when you're taking off in an airplane, the G-forces push you into the seat.  As the plane levels out, the G-forces let up - but the sensation is one of falling.

It would be nice if CJL would come out and apologize and tell us he's working to fix it.

But that ain't gonna happen.

Good coaches never do that.  They never pass the buck to players or assistant coaches.  And they never tell the fans what they are doing to address negative outcomes.

I would bet anyone that Jim Leavitt, in private, is more upset and angry about these losses than anyone venting here.

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at least he knows people are getting mad

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Success will come if he builds an offensive line - recruits talent on both offensive and defensive lines and he will get us their.  Our issue is depth and o-line.   We also have a rookie QB who has not developed yet but can and probably will.  Grothe was a freak and he was just another type player like Andre and others we have who have helped move us along.  Now we need more of those players.

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Guest nybullsfan

talent is not the problem

we have the talent to beat anyone in the big east right now (except maybe pitt)

the problems are focus and preparation

the players are not focused (see: penaties, dropped passes, missed blocks, etc)

the coaches are not preparing and adjusting (see: game plans for kelly, wannstadt, sciano)

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he has a huge guaranteed contract

why should he care

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