Leavitt to attend NFL combine as Rams' guest
Talked to Jim Leavitt this morning for the first time in about six weeks -- understandably, the former USF coach hasn't taken calls from the media since his firing, giving only a few short interviews while at the Senior Bowl in Mobile a month ago.
Leavitt said he will attend the NFL combine in Indianapolis for the first time this weekend, curiously as a guest of the St. Louis Rams, who have the top pick in this year's draft. Leavitt said he was invited by Tony Softli, the Rams' vice president for player personnel, and will be able to evaluate this year's top prospects up close as part of a large gathering of NFL scouts and front-office executives.
Leavitt said he's spent much time in the past month getting a better feel for how NFL offenses and defenses work, regularly getting up at 3:30 a.m. to watch film with former Bucs coach Jon Gruden. "I've learned a lot just by being a good listener," Leavitt said.
A few more notes catching up with Leavitt:
-- Asked how he's handling being away from USF football for the first time in 14 years, Leavitt said there are good days and bad days, and that the support of his wife, Jody, has been a huge help. The hardest part of this for him, he said, is knowing that four of his former assistants are out of jobs right now -- Leavitt took pride in being able to say he never fired an assistant, so it's difficult for him to think about those coaches and their families, wishing he could do more to help them land another job.
-- He's looking forward to seeing six of his former players in Indianapolis -- he saw three of them (Nate Allen, Jerome Murphy, George Selvie) in Mobile, and saw Kion Wilson at the East-West Shrine Game in Orlando. He said he's talked and texted with Jason Pierre-Paul and Carlton Mitchell as they've prepared for the combine. Leavitt said USF didn't allow him to speak to his team after his firing, if only to say goodbye, so he hasn't seen most of his former players.
-- Leavitt said he's trying to stay out of the legal process as his attorneys negotiate with USF's, trying to reach some kind of settlement. The two sides met for nearly six hours on Saturday without a resolution.
-- Leavitt wasn't aware that running back Mike Ford had been dismissed from USF's football team, and expressed the same disappointment I've heard today from other coaches who have worked with Ford. "He has a good heart," Leavitt said, hopeful that Ford can overcome this adversity, as he did in finding a way to USF after stops at a prep school and junior college coming out of high school.