'Everybody in America can understand'
USF coach Jim Leavitt, deflecting an awkward situation with a bit of humor, addressed the arrest Thursday night of senior defensive end Woody George, saying he could relate to the frustration of parking tickets at USF but would hope for a better reaction. George was arrested on a felony charge of grand theft after telling police he had thrown away a parking boot that had been put on his car in the parking lot next to USF's athletic facility.
"I can understand the frustration, but you can't do what he did," Leavitt said after Friday's morning practice. "I got three tickets recently. Two, my tires touched the white line. I drive an SUV, and I can't touch the white line. The third ticket, I bought my new pass and had it on my desk. I had the old one on my mirror. I got a warning. The next day, we had morning practice, I went to go get my (pass) and switch it and I had a ticket already. ... Even though I'm frustrated, I'd have no right to take a boot off. You can't deal with frustration that way."
"I'm sure other people have been frustrated with tickets they've gotten. I'm sure everybody in America can understand the frustration. You just can't take boots off. I'm sure a lot of people would like to. To be honest with you, it's remarkable that he was able to get it off. I don't know how he got it off."
George, who was released on $2,000 bond at 1:10 a.m. Friday morning, didn't practice with the team Friday morning, but Leavitt had no plans to keep him from practicing or playing with the Bulls. He said George had notified him about the boot and apologized before going to the police department as requested by parking officials.
"Could this have been worked out internally? I would have hoped so," Leavitt said. "But I can't excuse it. He did the wrong thing.
"What he did was wrong, but I think we can work through this one," Leavitt said. "I'm not saying (it's OK). The first time I say that, the whole public opinion of the Tampa Bay area will say I think it's OK to do what he's doing. I'm not saying that. I am telling you if I touch a white line, I have a ticket. If I touch another white line, I have my second ticket."
Leavitt said he has paid two tickets. On the third, "I'm asking for leniency," said Leavitt, who will make $1-million this year. "It was 20 minutes and I didn't put the thing on my mirror. I don't think I can get out of touching the white lines. ... They got me."
"We love those people," Leavitt said of the parking personnel. It was suggested that the parking ticketers might work as hard as his football team does during two-a-day practices.
"They must," Leavitt said. "I never thought anybody could work as hard as we work out here."
(photo of unrelated parking boot from parking.uga.edu)