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Getting to Know: Jim Leavitt

Discussion in 'CU Buffs Newsroom' started by RSSBot, Feb 5, 2015.

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    Jul 8, 2005
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    By Stuart

    [h=3]Getting to Know CU’s new Defensive Coordinator … Jim Leavitt[/h] —
    Jim Leavitt, 58,*has been the linebackers coach for Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ere for the past four seasons. He is better known to*college football fans as the former*head coach of*the South Florida Bulls from 1997 to 2009.
    In his 13 seasons in Tampa, Leavitt compiled a 95-57 overall record, taking USF from a 1-AA independent school without a program all the way to the Big East Conference. Leavitt was abruptly fired in January, 2010, after allegations were made that hit he grabbed and hit a player. Leavitt sued the school for wrongful termination, with the parties’ settling the suit in January, 2011, with Leavitt receiving $2.75 million from the school. As part of the agreement, neither side was allowed to comment on the matter, and the settlement stated that it should not be “construed as an admission by USF or Leavitt of any liability, wrongdoing or unlawful conduct whatsoever.”
    Below is a chronology of Leavitt’s coaching history, his official bio (from the San Francisco 49ers website), a story ranking Leavitt as the second-best defensive coordinator in Bill Snyder’s long tenure at Kansas State, and two stories about the firing and settlement concerning Leavitt’s departure from South Florida.
    Leavitt’s chronology:
    1974-77 – Played safety for the Missouri Tigers (another Missouri alumnus, like Bill McCartney)
    1978-79 – Graduate assistant, Missouri
    1982 – Special teams coach, Morningside
    1983-87 – Defensive coordinator, Morningside
    1989 –*Graduate assistant, Iowa
    1990 – Linebackers coach, Kansas State
    1991-95 – Linebackers coach/Co-Defensive Coordinator, Kansas State
    1997-2009 – Head coach, South Florida
    2011-2014 – Linebackers coach, San Francisco 49ers

    Jim Leavitt bio – from the San Francisco 49ers website:
    With over 30 years of coaching experience in the collegiate ranks, Jim Leavitt spent four*years*as the linebackers coach for the 49ers.
    In 2013, Leavitt led a linebacking corps that featured NFL Defensive Player of the Year Candidate, AP First-Team All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection LB NaVorro Bowman. Bowman led the team with a career-high 192 tackles, while adding a career-high 5.0 sacks and two interceptions. LB Patrick Willis ranked second on the team with 147 tackles and was selected to his seventh consecutive Pro Bowl.
    In 2012, Leavitt oversaw a linebacking corps that featured two, First-Team All-Pro middle linebackers in Willis and Bowman. Both Willis (starter) and Bowman were also selected to the Pro Bowl. Bowman led the team with 183 tackles and Willis added 171 tackles.
    In his first season in San Francisco, Leavitt’s unit featured two, First-Team All-Pro selections in Willis and Bowman. Bowman, in his first year as a starter, led the team with 173 tackles, while adding two sacks and two fumble recoveries. Willis ranked second on the team with 121 tackles and set career-highs with four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and 12 passes defensed. The 49ers also ranked first in the NFL in run defense, in 2011.
    Prior to joining San Francisco, Leavitt was the head coach at the University of South Florida, a position he held since the program’s inception in 1995. In 13 seasons, he led the Bulls to a 95-57 record.
    The program began play in 1997 at the division I-AA level and immediate success propelled the Bulls to a national ranking for 24 consecutive weeks. In 2001, South Florida became a Division I-A independent before moving to Conference USA, in 2003. Leavitt’s continued success helped South Florida move into the Big East prior to the 2005 season. That year, Leavitt led the Bulls to their first ever Bowl appearance.
    Since becoming a member of the Big East Conference in 2005, Leavitt led the Bulls to a 40-24 record, including five consecutive Bowl appearances, posting a 3-2 record in those games. South Florida’s ascension into the top 25 from entry into I-A/FCS was the fastest in NCAA history, surpassing Boise State’s rise by a mere seven weeks. The Bulls achieved another record on September 30, 2007, when they became the fastest program of the modern era to reach the top 10, landing at No. 6 in the AP Poll and No. 9 in the Coaches’ Poll. On October 14, 2007, South Florida received its first ever BCS ranking as the No. 2 team in the nation behind only the Ohio State Buckeyes. That week, the team was also ranked No. 2 in the AP Poll and No. 3 in both the Coaches’ and the Harris Interactive Poll.
    Prior to becoming the head coach at South Florida, Leavitt worked under legendary coach Bill Snyder at Kansas State from 1990-95. Leavitt served as the linebackers coach for two seasons before becoming the defensive coordinator. He was instrumental in building a Wildcat defense that improved from 93rd in the nation in 1993 to the number one ranked unit in 1995.
    His coaching career began as a graduate assistant at the University of Missouri (1978-79). Leavitt followed that by serving as the defensive coordinator at the University of Dubuque (IA) from 1980-81. He then spent five seasons at Morning Side College (IA), working as the special teams coordinator for one year before being named the defensive coordinator in 1983.
    In 1988, Leavitt turned his attention towards obtaining his PhD in psychology from the University of Iowa, an endeavor he had been pursing sporadically since 1982. By 1989, Leavitt simply needed to complete his dissertation when Iowa head coach Hayden Fry offered him a graduate position. With the coaching bug in his blood, Leavitt jumped at the opportunity and was able to fast track his coaching career in I-A football. Following the ‘89 season, Leavitt was named to Bill Snyder’s staff at Kansas State.
    A native of Harlingen, TX, Leavitt is married to his wife, Jody, and the couple has two daughters, Sofia and Isabella. Leavitt also has another daughter, Deandra.
    Leavitt*ranked as the second-best defensive coordinator under Bill Snyder at Kansas State
    Kevin Haskin, sports writer for the Topeka Capital-Journal, put out an article this past December, “Ranking Defensive Coordinators Under Bill Snyder”. The article can be found here, but this is what Haskin had to say about Jim Leavitt, ranking Leavitt No. 2 all-time, behind only Bob Stoops, and ahead of the likes of Phil Bennett (who went on to be a head coach at SMU), Bret Bielema (Wisconsin/Arkansas) and Brent Venables (Clemson):
    2. Jim Leavitt. Teamed with Bob Stoops as co-coordinators for Kansas State. In their final season together in Manhattan, the Wildcats led the nation in total defense. (Side note: The defensive tackle who anchored that unit, Tim Colston, has sadly been unappreciated and should receive lasting recognition from K-State after he was named the Big 12 defensive player of the year.)
    *Leavitt went on to start a program from scratch at South Florida. The Bulls were successful. Leavitt was drummed out, went on to the NFL and served as Jim Harbaugh’s linebackers coach with the 49ers. That linebacking unit for San Francisco, when healthy, was the best in the business.*
    Still, what Leavitt built at South Florida was phenomenal. At K-State, he wouldn’t sleep after a loss — for a whole week. He finds a way. If he gets hired again as a collegiate head coach, I like his potential.

    Leavitt fired by South Florida for allegedly hitting a player …
    From Fox Sports *(January, 2010)*… South Florida fired football coach Jim Leavitt after a school investigation concluded he grabbed one of his players by the throat, slapped him in the face and then lied about it.
    A letter hand delivered to the coach and released along with a report on the three-week probe said the university’s findings were based on “independently corroborated statements of persons found to be in the best position to observe your conduct.”
    “Coach Leavitt committed a serious violation of our standards of conduct regarding treatment of students,” university president Judy Genshaft said Friday, adding a national search for a replacement will be begin immediately.
    Reached by telephone, the only coach in the program’s 13-year history told The Associated Press he was “disappointed” and the allegation was “absolutely false.”
    Leavitt told investigators he has never struck a player and that he was trying to lift the spirits of a player who was “down” when he grabbed the player’s shoulder pads during halftime of a game against Louisville on Nov. 21.
    But the letter athletic director Doug Woolard presented to Leavitt during a meeting with Genshaft stated informed the coach “your description of your conduct toward the student athlete in question was consistently uncorroborated by credible witnesses.”
    The school also concluded Leavitt interfered with the investigation by having “direct contact with material witnesses … at a time you knew or should have known was critical to the review process.”
    Leavitt, who was 95-57, just completed the second season of a seven-year, $12.6 million contract.
    “I truly wish there had been another outcome to this situation,” Woolard said during a news conference.

    … With Leavitt and South Florida reaching a settlement after Leavitt filed suit against the school …
    From the Tampa Bay Times … One year and three days after Jim Leavitt was fired, USF reached a settlement with its former football coach, paying him $2.75 million to resolve the wrongful termination suit he filed after his run as the Bulls’ only head coach abruptly ended.
    The settlement, announced Tuesday night by USF and Leavitt’s attorney, Wil Florin, includes $2 million for “salary and benefits” as well as a payment of $750,000 “acknowledging Coach Leavitt’s contributions to building USF’s nationally respected football program.” USF said in its release that “non-state resources” will be used to pay for the settlement.
    “I’m grateful for the love and support of my family and all of the great people of Tampa Bay,” Leavitt said in a statement. “I will always cherish my time at USF and what we built here together.”
    With more than 50 depositions planned by Leavitt’s attorney, the lawsuit would likely have carried into this fall, but the settlement could clear the way for him to return to college coaching. There has been speculation that he could return to Kansas State, where he was an assistant for six seasons before coming to USF in 1995, to join the staff of 71-year-old Bill Snyder and eventually replace him as head coach after his retirement.
    … When Leavitt initially filed the suit, he sought only to get his old job back, but the fine print of his settlement makes it clear that will never happen. The settlement stipulates that Leavitt cannot apply for any job at USF “in any capacity,” and that if he does, USF “is free to reject and disregard it.”
    Leavitt’s settlement is comparable to the $3 million that Kansas agreed to pay in December 2009 to coach Mark Mangino, who was accused of mistreating his players. Mangino had $9.2 million left on his contract at the time; Leavitt had $9.5 million remaining and was entitled to 75 percent of that had he been fired “without cause,” by his contract.
    As part of the agreement, neither side is allowed to comment on the matter, and the settlement states that it should not be “construed as an admission by USF or Leavitt of any liability, wrongdoing or unlawful conduct whatsoever.”

    Originally posted by CU At the Game
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