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.
FSU and LSU announced two game neutral site series Tuesday
In an effort to continue to beef up their out-of-conference schedules, FSU announced on Tuesday that they will play newly-crowned National Champion, LSU in two neutral site games coming soon in 2022 and 2023.
The Seminoles made the announcement through social media and their website that they will be playing the “Bayou Bengals” first in New Orleans and then, in Orlando:
Noles vs. Tigers set for '22/'23!!!https://t.co/nfLwLGhXE3
— FSU Football (@FSUFootball) February 11, 2020
Both teams will be given the benefit of essentially a “home-away-from-home neutral-site game” on Labor Day weekend. LSU considers New Orleans to be their second home and just won the College Football Playoff National Championship game over Clemson there on January 12.
The first game with the Noles will be on Saturday night September 4th, 2022.
FSU will, then play “hosts” in Orlando against the Tigers the following year on Saturday night September 3rd. The Noles recently played a season-opening game with Ole Miss, whom they defeated, at Camping World Stadium in 2016.
New Seminoles head coach Mike Norvell had this to say in the school statement about adding the games coming soon,
“I’m excited about this series,” head coach Mike Norvell said. “Florida State has a rich tradition in Louisiana, the home of many former Seminoles including Warrick Dunn and Travis Minor, and all three of our national championship teams had at least one player from Louisiana. It continues to be an important area for us now. We added two players from Louisiana in our first signing class, and it will be great for them and other future Noles to be able to play back in their home state.
This series matches two of the iconic brands in college football, and I know our fans will have a great time in New Orleans and Orlando. I want to thank our administration for all their hard work on this and for continuing to pursue first-class experiences for our student-athletes.”
These will be the 10th and 11th times that Florida State and LSU will meet. The Noles hold a 7 – 2 advantage, including winning four straight games in the series. It is the first time the two schools will have played since 1991.
Further, Florida State is 9 – 2 in their last 11 games opening a season on a neutral field. The Seminoles were to have played Boise State in Jacksonville last Labor Day weekend, but the threat of Hurricane Dorian moved the game to Tallahasse.
That’s where the Broncos upset the Seminoles and sent coach Willie Taggart into a second year spiral that resulted in his firing in November.
The Noles are also 8 – 2 all-time in games at the Superdome with the most prominent one coming in the BCS Championship Game win over Virginia Tech in the 2000 Sugar Bowl.
Deion tells Dan Patrick he’d consider coaching Hurricanes
NFL Hall of Famer and former Seminoles All-American defensive back Deion Sanders is making the rounds for broadcast outlets at Super Bowl 54 in Miami,. And it’s not just his NFL Network duties that made some news on Tuesday. Rather, it’s an interview, where he expressed more desire for coaching college football and maybe, even in the city where he currently is working this week.
Sanders appeared on The Dan Patrick television – radio show Tuesday in advance of the 49ers and the Chiefs meeting for pro football’s title at Hard Rock stadium Sunday night.
— Dan Patrick Show (@dpshow) January 28, 2020
And, while most of the interview centered around the NFL and the Super Bowl match-up, Patrick naturally turned to Deion’s desire to apparently be a head coach in college football and maybe, as soon as next year.
This subject came up after Sanders was apparently under consideration to possibly be the new head coach at FSU, when they fired Willie Taggart in early November. The school and AD David Coburn did confirm that they had a serious formal discussion with “Prime Time” about building a staff, etc.
That’s when Patrick turn the questioning to Sanders’ son and what might test his loyalty to FSU and possibly, coaching at a hated-rival like the University of Miami.
“What if ‘The U’ called?” Patrick asked.
“You know what is so funny, cuz I saw that when I was watching you on television (earlier in the day when Patrick said he would ask Sanders about Miami). My son is a phenomenal quarterback. My youngest son. He has a plethora of offers. We’re going to visit ‘The U’ on Saturday,” Sanders said.
“But would you coach the U?,” Patrick quickly asked again.
“You know what. You never know,” Sanders replied leaving the door open, like most do.
“Are you a ‘package deal’ with your son,” asked Patrick?
“I’ve never been a package deal with any-body,” Sanders shot back, which drew laughter from the studio audience at Patrick’s Super Bowl show site.
Now, the Hurricanes have obviously floundered for much of the 2010s, including 2019 with first-year coach Manny Diaz struggling mightily down the stretch of his first season. Miami lost it’s final two games to finish 6 – 6, and then, were shutout humiliatingly by Louisiana Tech 14 – 0 in the Independence Bowl.
Miami has swapped offensive coordinators after Diaz fired Dan Enos after just his first season. The Canes have hired former Auburn and SMU play-caller Rhett Lashlee to replace him. And, they secured Houston dual threat transfer QB D’Eriq King for this season.
Sanders was a two-time All-American at Florida State (1987, ’88), and won the Jim Thorpe Award during his final season playing for the Seminoles in 1988. He was selected in the first round of the 1989 draft by the Atlanta Falcons and played in the NFL through the 2005 season.
His elite level of play earned him inductions into both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Sanders has been analyst for the NFL Network for the past 10 years and clearly has the desire to try something else.