Amidst most Florida State fans happiness with the hire of Willie Taggart on Tuesday, was the belief that he would be bringing his top assistants to Tallahassee with him. The key one of those is his defensive coordinator this past season in Eugene, and fellow former USF head coach, Jim Leavitt.
However, on Wednesday morning, it’s still uncertain on when and if Leavitt can and will join the new Noles coach. More on that in a bit.
First, the quick bio/update on the Ducks current defensive coordinator and his Florida background.
Leavitt, after all, not only built USF from nothing starting in 1997 into a Division one force 10 years later (they were ranked #2 in the AP), but is also very well known as a big time recruiter in the state. And, this goes back to the early 1990’s when he scored big time recruits while co-defensive coordinator for Bill Snyder at Kansas State.
Once he got the Bulls job, Leavitt built his roster almost entirely with players from the Tampa Bay area and Central Florida.
After being fired by USF with controversy over whether he struck a player in the locker room at halftime of a game. Leavitt went to the NFL as linebackers coach for the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-14. He was part of their run to the Super Bowl in 2012.
After Jim Harbaugh was dismissed in San Fran in 2014, Leavitt spent two years as the Colorado defensive coordinator, including 2015, where they went to the Pac-12 Title Game.
Then, he hooked up with Taggart, after a strong recommendation from Jim Harbaugh to stay in the Pac-12 and coach the defense at Oregon this past season.
So now, what’s his situation?
The belief is that Leavitt wants to join Taggart at FSU and resume the Florida recruiting trail but this time with the leverage and the talent to choose from that the Noles bring, as a power house program. And, there have been numerous reports in the last 48 hours that he would be leaving.
This includes a report in the Portland Oregonian yesterday afternoon that Leavitt would be joining Taggart.
Furher, another popular Tallahassee outlet flat out put it out there Tuesday evening:
Jim Leavitt following Willie Taggart to FSU to become defensive coordinator https://t.co/hRxjhY3vZn
— Tomahawk Nation (@Tomahawknation) December 5, 2017
But, in the words of former FSU assistant coach turned ESPN TV legend, Lee Corso, “not so fast, my friend.”
Oregon AD Rob Mullens made it clear in his news conference in Eugue Tuesday afternoon that Leavitt and the other assistants aren’t going anywhere, for now. In fact, he promoted Taggart’s offensive coordinator and former FIU head coach, Mario Cristobal, as the interim coach for the Ducks bowl game.
And further, Mullens informed everyone that every Ducks assistant, including Leavitt, has it in their contract that they cannot leave for any other assistant’s job until the Oregon season is over, including their bowl game.
That is the Las Vegas Bowl against Boise State on Saturday December 16th.
10 days from now.
As for Leavitt, he spent the weekend through Tuesday on the recruiting trail. In fact, even with rumors swirling everywhere that Taggart was negotiating with the Noles, Leavitt tweeted that he was flying all over the place Monday and Tuesday to visit Duck defensive recruits:
Had our awards banquet tonight. Really went well. Players had a good time. Heading out tomorrow. Oregon, Vegas, Denver and Ohio. Then back to get ready for Bowl Game. Go Ducks!
— Jim Leavitt (@CoachJimLeavitt) December 4, 2017
He followed through and visited face to face with high school players all way through Tuesday night. This was even with Taggart having been announced as the new FSU coach and having informed the current Ducks players in a meeting Tuesday afternoon.
Then, with the above reporting everywhere that it was a “given” Leavitt was guaranteed to be joining Taggart in the Florida panhandle coming up, Leavitt took to Twitter, again last night:
Always been honest. Never have I mislead. Have great passion for the Ducks! Want to be a HC someday again Lord willing. Flying back tomorrow but tonight with my girls.
— Jim Leavitt (@CoachJimLeavitt) December 5, 2017
We at F.F.I. take the “Never have I mislead” to mean: he’s not misleading the recruits that he was meeting with face to face, about Leavitt staying on at Oregon, while planning to be gone later in the month to FSU.
And you take into account that Leavitt cannot leave, anyway, for now, due to his deal with Oregon and the debate deepens.
Will the Ducks push hard for Cristobal to get the full time job? Probably.
Might Leavitt get consideration for head coach in Eugene, as he referenced? Perhaps, but a longer shot on that.
Might Mullens and Oregon pony up big money (they have it) to give Leavitt a new deal and keep him? Stronger maybe on that point.
Will Jim Leavitt be joining Willie Taggart and FSU to recruit in these next two weeks before the December 20th early signing day? Absolutely, not.
Is he waiting out the 10 days that he has to and is in fact misleading Oregon recruits about him going to FSU? Could be.
Now, we watch and wait.
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