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Leavitt interviewed on ESPN2's 'First Take'



It's more than just the bloggers picking up on Jim Leavitt's 5.72 seconds of glory on Thursday afternoon -- the Bulls coach was a guest on ESPN2's "First Take" on Friday morning, talking with Jay Crawford for about six minutes about his run and the interest it's helped generate for USF's spring game Saturday.

I really should be finishing up the Evan Landi story we're doing for Saturday's paper -- just talked to a general manager in Ontario about his hockey skills -- but here's a quick transcript of the ESPN interview.

ESPN: If you've ever watched a USF football game, you know that's how they all begin. Head coach Jim Leavitt, with all of his passion, bringing his team onto the field. He does it in a dead sprint. Once upon a time, Jim could really run. According to our own Michael Kim, he once blocked a kick at Missouri that's still legendary there. We'll ask him about that in just a sec. But how would he do in the yardstick race for all athletes, the 40-yard dash? Well, Jim ran the 40 yesterday. He's caught his breath now and he's here to tell us why he did all of that. Coach, you feeling OK? Good to see you again.

JL: I'm feeling great, Jay. The NFL Draft is just around the corner, and I think if I keep training, I'll crack that 5-flat.

ESPN: For those that don't know and haven't read about this, how did the idea of you running a 40 come about?

JL: Our sports information director, Chris Freet, and some other people I guess put it to me, and I said 'Sure, why not. Let's see what I can do.'

ESPN: You did this yesterday. What is this all tied in to? Why exactly are you running the 40?

JL: We have a spring game that's tomorrow night, and we have a number of students that will be at the game. They'll get a T-shirt if they can beat me, which means all of them are going to receive a T-shirt. We're just trying to ramp it up a little bit, get some people out there to the game and create some excitement. Now, you have to remember: Very little warmup. I might have got down a little faster than that, but it's just for a lot of fun.

ESPN: It is fun, and you like to keep it that way. What is the time to beat? What did you run the 40 in yesterday?

JL: Etched in my memory will always be 5.72. That's a little embarrassing.

ESPN: You could always do it this way: Yesterday was April 9th, 04/09, so you can tell people you ran a 4-9 40.

JL: That's right. That's exactly right.

ESPN: 5.72, that's not going to break many NFL training camps. What was your 40 time when you were in your prime, blocking kicks at Missouri?

JL: I was about a 4.7 guy. I always say I could break that. That 5.72, now, I'm 5.72 all the time, in practice, in games, everything. All the time.

ESPN: I was going to give you the benefit of the doubt and say some of those 40s you run before pregame, it looks like game speed. You might be in the 4.9 range.

JL: It's totally different. When you have the adrenaline flowing, it's game time. You do something like that, those 40s are all around 4.5 and 4.6.

ESPN: How did you train for this, Jim?

JL: I didn't. Isn't it obvious?

ESPN: I saw the raw tape, actually, and saw you said it wasn't fair because you were already tired from jogging over to the start line.

JL: I jogged from my office, which took about three minutes, and that wore me out. And then I bent over to touch my toes, and after that stretching routine, I went. That kind of wore me out a little. The excitement of the moment.

ESPN: How did you feel?

JL: After the first two steps, I thought I was in trouble.I thought, 'Boy, there's a long way to go.' But I felt exhilarated afterwards.

ESPN: How do you feel today? Is everything OK?

JL: A little sore in the hamstrings, but other than that, I'm fine.

ESPN: I read this yesterday. One of the four kids that will run to try to beat your time tried to walk on to your team and you actually cut him last spring.

JL: That was last spring. We might bring him out now.

ESPN: He wants you, Jim. You know this is revenge for him.

JL: He's probably going to get me pretty easily.

ESPN: What did your players say about your time?

JL: They were pretty embarrassed. I just saw Aaron Harris in our facility, and he just put his head down, shook his head and said 'Coach, we've got to do better.'

ESPN: Is there anybody on your team that you can beat?

JL: If I can, they're not going to be on our team after that happens. That won't happen.

ESPN: Michael Kim of course is all things Missouri, and Pat Forde is here as well. Pat may remember this. You're remembered for your hustle and your heart and desire. Do you remember the kick? Michael Kim sent me an e-mail last night and said 'You have to ask him about this kick he blocked at Missouri. It's legendary there.' Is it that big a deal?

JL: Well, those guys are a little bit younger, and you know how stories get embellished over the years. I always kind of run around a lot, when I played. I just enjoy life. As far as blocking kicks and things like that, I probably was more responsible for getting kicks blocked than blocking them.

ESPN: Jim, I remember you for your incredible athleticism as a second baseman. You and I turned a double play in a tournament once, and you said "Jay, that's the most athletic thing I've done in my life.' Does that still hold true?

JL: Let me tell you something: That was a pretty good play. I remember that, in that charity softball game or something we had. I didn't know I was capable, but that was fun. I remember it well. That was a good moment, a pretty good play.

ESPN: It was a great play. It would have been the SportsCenter Top Play of the Day, I guarantee you that. In fact, I was humming the SportsCenter theme as you were diving deep in the hole at second before you flipped it to me. That was a lot of fun. Good luck at the spring game tomorrow. I'm glad you survived that, and hope the season goes well for you. Keep it going down there. You've got quite a thing going.

JL: I appreciate it, and it will.

[Last modified: Thursday, May 27, 2010 6:15pm]


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