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Report- Former USF coach Leavitt out as Oregon DC, FSU next?

Florida Football Insiders

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Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Former USF coach Jim Leavitt, who has spent the last two years as the Oregon defensive coordinator, is apparently out of that job on Wednesday night. Now the questions become: why is he gone, where might he land next and could that be FSU?

24/7 Sports broke the story on their website Wednesday evening, and the Portland Oregonian newspaper  had more details that Leavitt is gone:

As 24/7 Sports wrote, head coach Mario Cristobal, who is a former head coach at FIU and just completed his first season in Eugene, is replacing Leavitt with Keith Heyward off of his staff. Heyward was the safeties coach last season making just under a half million dollars.

Meanwhile as The Oregonian pointed out, Leavitt is one of the highest paid assistants in all of college football and made $1.7 Million last year. The most intriguing question about his contract and remaining money is: did Leavitt initiate this and buy his own way out of his deal for another coaching job somewhere else?

If he did, then Leavitt would owe the school $250,000.

If, however, this is Cristobal and the school firing Leavitt, then he’s owed the remainder of his contract which is $3.4 million for 2019 and 2020. And, then there is the third scenario that perhaps Oregon is alleging some kind of cause for termination and Leavitt would not entitled to anything.

Leavitt rose to prominence in college coaching, as the original architect and head coach of USF program in the late 1990s. The Bulls made NCAA FBS history becoming the first school ever to move to Division One after fewer than three seasons of existence.

Leavitt was fired in January of 2010 after controversy at USF over him allegedly striking a player at halftime of a game that 2009 season. The school led by athletic director Doug Woolard, attempted to claim that the firing was for cause and that Leavitt had attempted to cover up the incident and change witness and the accuser’s story. The school tried to not pay him any of his remaining salary.

Leavitt sued the school in the two sides eventually reached a settlement, where he was paid a reported $2.75 million dollars from his remaining contract.

From the Bulls, Leavitt coached in the NFL as a linebackers coach with the 49ers under Jim Harbaugh and then later coached a season at Colorado, as their defensive coordinator. Then, he came to Oregon to join Willie Taggart, when he took that job two years ago.

The connection of Taggart and Leavitt is an interesting one that goes back to Taggart’s playing days at Bradenton Manatee High School, when Leavitt recruited him.

Leavitt was rumored to be joining Taggart staff, when he got the Florida State job in December of 2017. However, Oregon “upped the ante” by what was believed to be at least $500,000 in raise to keep him with the Ducks for 2018.

So now, we wait for more details on Leavitt’s dismissal or decision to leave Oregon and whether he might end up now at Florida State with Taggart?

There can be no mistake that he would be a fantastic recruiting resource for Taggart, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

Oregon had no comment as of Wednesday night, as to the reports of Leavitt’s ouster or not.

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Time for concern after XFL TV ratings declined again last week?

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

For the second consecutive week, the XFL televison ratings continued to slide in the wrong direction. And, the troubling part is that if the trend continues, the XFL will have no leverage for sponsors and revenue to keep it going long term.

First, here are the specifics on the bad viewership news: According to Showbuzzdaily.com all four XFL broadcasts last Saturday and Sunday afternoon had lower ratings in their slot than the previous week.

That includes the Tampa Bay Vipers home debut against Houston, which was the early game on ABC Saturday. And, while that window had 400,000 less viewers than week 2, the bigger concern is ABC has lost almost 40% of the audience from the 3.3 million average that watched their Week one debut game on Saturday afternoon.

The ratings downward trend is following the same pattern as last Spring’s Alliance of American Football, where the ratings dwindled to under a million fans for broadcasts by week five and eventually the league shut down after just eight weeks. This was in part because of concerns on how the AAF could make any revenue, through television in specific, if they had very little audience for the end of year one and to sell off of for year two.

Now, WWE owner Vince McMahon, who folded the XFL the first time in 2001 in large part because the television audience plummeted over the course of the first month or so of its existence and never recovered, has the same issue in 2020.

And, as we wrote previously, this audience decline while negative is far less McMahon’s original XFL and it’s first season of 2001.  That’s when, it debuted on its first Saturday night on NBC with a massive 10.1 rating, which translated 18 years ago to more than 9.5 viewers on network TV. A Smashing success.

However, the XFL’s ratings plummeted starting the following week and had fewer than 25% of that opening night audience just a month later with the games still being shown on a Saturday night coveted slot on NBC. It doomed the league from a P.R. and sponsor standpoint and McMahon pulled the plug.

Now, in 2020, McMahon reportedly has money to burn and is apparently prepared to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in year one. So, even if the XFL TV ratings continue come down significantly, it will not spell the end of the XFL (like it did nearly 20 years ago) after just a single season.

At least, that’s what we think.

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Vipers better but drop third straight game in home opener

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Mary Holt- USA Today Sports

Although their play was improved offensively, in the end it wasn’t enough for the Tampa Bay Vipers after they dropped their third straight XFL game to start the season 34 – 27 to Houston Saturday afternoon in Tampa.

Roughnecks quarterback P.J. Walker threw for three touchdowns and ran for another, as Houston scored early in the fourth quarter to go up by seven and held off the Viper the rest of the way.

The Vipers offense came to life after they had failed to score in the offensive touchdown in either of their first two games. Both of which were losses on the road. Quarterback Taylor Cornelius, subbing for starter Aaron Murray who missed his second straight game with an injured foot, once again had modest numbers 16-31 for 193 yards 1 TD, 1 INT.

However, he did pull the game even at 18 – 18 at the half after scoring on a one yard QB sneak and Tampa Bay got the two-point conversion.

Still, the former Oklahoma State quarterbacks day was inconsistent and the home crowd at Raymond James Stadium began to chant the name “Flowers, Flowers” for former USF Star Quarterback Quinton Flowers, who played sparingly for the third straight game in a reserve role.

Flowers got Tampa Bay’s first offensive TD on the young season with a seven yard run in the first quarter, but only played QB sparingly in the game, again. He was just 4-6 for 57 yards passing with 29 yards on six attempts on the ground.

Meanwhile, the former Temple star Walker found receiver Cam Phillips for the third of their three touchdown hookups from 17 yards out to give Houston a 34 – 27 lead with just over 10 minutes to play. Phillips devastated Jerry Glanville’s Vipers defense for 194 yards receiving on eight catches with the three TDs.

The Vipers look like they were going to have a chance to re-tie the game when Cornelius (above) completed a pass to his top target on the day, Jaylen Tolliver, at the two-yard line. However just like a week ago in Seattle when a critical fourth quarter drive stalled and Tampa Bay came away with no points in a 17 – 9 lost the Dragons, the Vipers got no points after Cornelius threw incomplete on second, third and fourth downs.

Many in the crowd and observers in the media were curious, as to why coach Marc Trestman didn’t go to Flowers as the dual threat running QB to at least try something different on one of those plays? Flowers even questioned why he did not play more after the game to the media.

The Vipers got the ball one final time, but Cornelius was picked off near midfield with just over a minute left to seal the defeat.

The Vipers played the first spring professional football game in Tampa, since the closing of the USFL 1985 season. That’s when Steve Spurrier’s Tampa Bay Bandits were a popular item at Old Tampa Stadium. Saturday’s home opener drew and announced crowd of 18,117.

However it’s little consolation for former Bears and CFL coach Trestman and his team, as they remain winless on the season. The L.A. Wildcats playing Sunday are the other 0-2 team in the league, currently.

And, you have to wonder whether Trestman will be forced to go to Flowers for the start when they host the D.C. Defenders next week.

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