Leavitt at media days: What they're writing ...
As a beat writer, it's fun to see how newspapers across the state handle an event like this weekend's state football media days. I'm always curious to see what other papers that don't write about USF very often find most interesting when they get a half-hour interview with Jim Leavitt that covers a little of everything. Thanks to the wonderful resource that is Google News, I can offer a ton of links ...
-- Florida Today has a piece on Leavitt and USF's progress. My favorite line, both optimistic and technically accurate: "A first sellout crowd is possible." And yes, after some suspense, they sneak in the obligatory "abandoned trailers" reference in the endquote.
-- Leavitt got a lot of questions of UCF, does he want to keep playing the series beyond 2008, etc. There really was nothing new this weekend, but there still are stories in the Herald-Tribune. Endquote? "I am worried about our first game against Elon." Another good story in the Bradenton Herald, trailer-free with only a token mention of Elon.
-- More UCF: the Orlando Sentinel writes that Leavitt expressed "ambivalence" about extending the series beyond 2008. Leavitt's we're-playing-too-many-state-schools diplomacy is a bit silly. He's ambivalent about playing more games with UCF the way I'm ambivalent about whether I'd like to get West Nile. Again, what we wrote two years ago: The only thing USF gets by playing UCF is the annual risk of allowing a close rival to instantly catch or surpass it. If USF doesn't play UCF, it's hard for UCF to say they're on the same level with the Bulls; even if they were to win C-USA, USF can claim it's an inferior non-BCS league. Leavitt doesn't want to say that and fire 'em up, that's all.
My favorite awkward Leavitt end-around, which didn't make the 2,800-word transcript, came when he was asked how the USF-UCF rivalry makes sense if only for its geographic proximity: "You have the distance. FAU's about four hours. Miami's four hours, 45 minutes. Orlando's about an hour and a half, the closest one of those three. Gainesville's two hours. Florida State took me, don't tell anybody, but I did it in under four hours. They're all pretty close. We're all recruiting against the same people. You play a team in Florida, the emotion is high no matter which one you play." Oh. OK.
-- I'm just being mean now, but the Idaho Statesman mentions USF among its "Teams that could suprise." (sic) Hey, it's a tricky word, don't get me wrong. Next time I get something wrong, remind me about karma. Oh, and Covers.com has Mike Ford among "the nation's dozen most pivotal RBs," going so far as to say that the freshman "oozes talent." I think there's an antibiotic for that.