Can Leavitt lure a coach from BCS program?
I've been playing air-traffic controller the last few days, analyzing the departures and arrivals from USF football in the last five years, trying to get a better profile of who Jim Leavitt might hire and why he's had such a high level of turnover among assistants in the past three off-seasons.
There's been a lot of conversation as to whether three coaches leaving in a week is a reflection of Leavitt and his coaching style or simply a reflection of college coaches. You can argue that former assistants are less likely to make negative comments publicly, but I talked Friday with longtime Bulls defensive line coach Earl Lane, who is currently working in an administrative role at LSU after two seasons working with the Tigers' defensive line.
"It's the kind of business we're in, and some years you have more movement than others," Lane said. "I don't want to speak for anybody else, for me, I was at USF 10 years, and it was a great experience for me. Coach Leavitt is a demanding coach, but I know the time I spent there really benefited me, and when I left, it was for a dream come true for me, a chance to come to LSU, a program I grew up watching."
Lane said that the financial factor will always be a part in any coaching move, and USF is in much better position now to compete with other BCS conference programs. Leavitt's salary pool for assistants is $1.35 million -- up 42 percent from just two years ago when Lane left. That might allow him to hire away a coach on the current staff of another BCS school, something he hasn't been able to do in the past five years.
His last 10 hires? Three were graduate assistants, three had been out of coaching at least a year and two others were looking for work after being fired. Only two -- John Hendrick (South Carolina State) and Troy Douglas (North Texas) left full-time college jobs to join the Bulls.
-- A few numbers concerning continuity on Leavitt's staff. Assuming no other assistants are leaving this off-season, Leavitt has three hires to make, which matches his average since 2007 -- nine hires in three years. In the previous three years, he had just four hires to make, so his turnover has doubled in the last three-year cycle.
-- Another one for you: Of the last 10 assistants to leave Leavitt's staff before this spring, only three of them remain at the school they left USF for. That's Dan McCarney, who won a national championship at Florida, and receivers coaches Lawrence Dawsey and Tom Pajic, who left to return to their alma maters. Take away Mike Hobbie, now out of coaching, and Rich Rachel, who remains on Leavitt's staff in an administrative role, and the rest have all jumped again since leaving USF. Rick Kravitz has been at three different schools in three seasons, Rod Smith and Greg Frey followed Rich Rodriguez from West Virginia to Michigan, and Earl Lane is now off the coaching staff after two seasons at LSU. Leroy Ryals, who left USF after four seasons to coach at LSU, is now a high school coach in Georgia. What I'm trying to say is turnover is certainly higher at USF in recent years, the people leaving USF aren't necessarily staying put when they leave, either.
-- None of the last nine coaches to leave USF's staff took promotions in their new jobs, as in assuming a coordinator or head coaching role. Seven of the nine left for other BCS programs -- two ACC, two SEC, two Big East and one Big 12. The other two were Greg Gregory moving to a startup program at South Alabama and Rachel taking a different role on Leavitt's staff.