Leavitt on ESPN: 'Anything's possible'
Just got around to watching Jim Leavitt's guest appearance in a live phone interview on ESPN during Saturday night's Florida-Auburn game. Thought it came off a lot better than his appearance on College GameDay earlier in the day.
Where Leavitt seemed disinterested (and probably tired) with a camera on him talking to Chris Fowler -- squinting, biting his lip, almost unhappy the morning after a huge win, intent on establishing only that he's very focused -- he came off more casual and laidback during the phone interview Saturday night, laughing and taking advantage of the buzz surrounding USF's success. He used the game being played to show first the danger of being upset, and that his team had beaten the Auburn team beating Florida.
Here's a transcript, from video kindly posted onto Youtube.com:
MIKE PATRICK: Jim, you took this job 10 years ago, this team did not have any players, any facilities, any anything. What were your friends telling you about your decision, to get in on the ground floor of this program?
LEAVITT: That I've got to be out of my mind. (laughing)
PATRICK: That's sort of what I thought.
LEAVITT: It's been a lot of fun. There's talent around this area. We play in a great stadium. It's had a great community in the Tampa Bay area. People see together a pretty good vision that anything's possible.
TODD BLACKLEDGE: You mentioned the talent in Florida and around you. Obviously, you've got Miami and Florida and Florida State that recruit hard in their home state. What has your strategy been to recruit in that state, knowing you may not be able to necessarily go head-to-head with those guys, how do you target the guys you get for your program?
LEAVITT: Opportunity to play, stay in your home state, being part of history, being part of something that's never been done before, being part of a great story.
BLACKLEDGE: I've got to ask you this: I watched the game last night, and after the game, when they talked to you, you said 'We're just going to go get ready for FAU and that's all we're focused on.' Please tell me you went out and enjoyed a little bit after the game last night.
LEAVITT: Oh, goodness, Todd. it was kind of fun, it really was, and it was a big win for us. But you know how it is. You look at all the upsets happening right now. If you get ahead of yourself and you don't stay focused on one game at a time, you're going to be the next team that loses. I just want to keep them playing good football, keep them focused on the next team, and let's just see what happens by the end of the year.
PATRICK: Jim, I know coaches just dread looking ahead, but we've got the remaining schedule of yours, you've got two top 10 opponents left on the schedule, both in conference. A lot of people are going to say right now you are the team to beat in the Big East. Do you think your kids are ready to accept that role?
LEAVITT: A lot of things are going to come out. There's a lot of distractions that are going to come your way, but it's important for our staff and our players to not look ahead, not look at those kinds of things. You've got to come out and play every time out, you're well aware of that. You look at what's happening right now with Auburn and Florida. Auburn's got so much talent, we really had to battle to beat them. It's an awfully good team. We're just still keep focused and try not to get ahead of ourselves.
BLACKLEDGE: Coach, I have one more question. We've talked a lot about Tim Tebow and he obviously is a great young quarterback. I'm really impressed with your young quarterback, Matt Grothe. Tell us a little bit, something about him. A lot of people may not know too much about Matt Grothe, but we're about to find out, I believe.
LEAVITT: Matt's so competitive and so courageous. He's got great feet, great release, keeps his eyes downfield, all those things, but he's a fierce competititor. He really keeps our team moving, keeps moving the chains, and I just love being around him, love being around people like that.
PATRICK: Coach, thank you so much for your time. I know how busy you are trying to get ready for next week and maybe celebrating this week a little bit. You've done such a tremendous job in building the program from absolutely nothing to where you are right now.
LEAVITT: I appreciate you having me on.
(I think a lot of Leavitt's comfort level is that the phone interview is just that, a regular phone call that happens to go out to 90-million homes. With the morning show, he's miked up in a studio, can't see who he's talking to. There's a scene in the movie "The Contender" a few years back where they talk about "sensory disadvantage," a natural discomfort when you can't see who's interviewing you, but they can see you. I think that's some of what happened Saturday morning. Good stuff Saturday night though.)