Gregory's interest in Gators prompted Leavitt
TAMPA -- It wasn't a lackluster offense that cost Greg Gregory his title as USF's offensive coordinator Saturday night.
It was Gregory's interest in joining Urban Meyer's staff at Florida, telling coach Jim Leavitt on Friday he was interviewing for a chance to become the Gators' tight ends coach.
"Greg visited with me about the possibility of coaching at another school, and I felt like I had to make a move," Leavitt said Tuesday night. "I'm not going to have my offensive coordinator out visiting with other schools. If a position coach wants to do that, I don't have as much a problem."
Leavitt issued a terse statement at 10:11 p.m. Saturday, saying Gregory was "released from his duties as offensive coordinator" and that the Bulls were going "to move in another direction."
But Tuesday, Leavitt said his intent was not to fire Gregory ("I never used the word 'fire,'" he said) but merely to strip him of his coordinator's role. When he saw newspaper headlines Sunday saying Gregory had been fired, Leavitt said he "just let it go." He said Tuesday he still considers Gregory a member of his staff, though he said he would have to create an opening if he hired a new coordinator from outside the program. He said receivers coach Mike Canales, his offensive coordinator from 1996-2000, is a candidate for the job as well.
Gregory, reached by phone Tuesday night, declined to comment.
USF's offense struggled in Big East play as the Bulls went a disappointing 2-5 in conference games. The Bulls scored 20 points or less in five straight games to end the regular season, losing four of those games.
But no action was taken against Gregory in four weeks after USF beat Memphis 41-14 in the St. Petersburg Bowl, not until after he told Leavitt he was going to interview for a job at Florida, which has won two national championships in the past three seasons.
Leavitt said he had told Gregory he might make a change after the end of the season, but had said he would not make that decision until after National Signing Day. He said Gregory's decision to interview at Florida prompted to make a move sooner than he planned.
While the tight ends position would be a step down from coordinator, Gregory would still likely make more than the $160,000 he made at USF in 2008. Gregory has known UF offensive coordinator Steve Addazio since 2004, when his son Grant was a freshman quarterback at Indiana, where Addazio was offensive coordinator.
Meyer has an opening on his staff to replace tight ends coach John Hevesy, who went to Mississippi State with former Gators offensive coordinator Dan Mullen.