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Leavitt wants Gators to come to Tampa



TAMPA – In past years, the talk of the Florida Sports Writers Association’s College Football Media Days was Central Florida coach George O’Leary lobbying to USF and coach Jim Leavitt to continue playing their rivalry game every year.

Now, as the Bulls and Knights prepare to meet for the fourth and final time in Orlando on Sept. 6, Leavitt is the one publicly lobbying, asking Florida to come to Tampa and take on USF at Raymond James Stadium.

"Florida won’t come in here to Tampa," said Leavitt, whose team is scheduled to play the Gators in Gainesville in 2010 and 2015. "We haven’t been able to get that done. Before, I could understand why, because we were averaging probably 32 or 34,000. Now we’re selling out Raymond James."

Starting in 2009, USF will play Miami every year for five years, and Leavitt would like to see similar deals with Florida and Florida State, saying that his program shouldn’t be considered part of the state’s "Big Three" until they’ve beaten one of them.

"The Swamp, I’m sure that’s an exciting place to play. I haven’t been there," he said. "I’d love to see that happen in Tampa, too. We’ll see if that happens."

USF isn’t scheduled to play UCF again after this season, and Leavitt said his concern is playing too many state teams each season because of the high emotions those games bring.

-- Bethune-Cookman coach Alvin Wyatt said he expects former USF defensive end Josh Smiley to start for the Wildcats at inside linebacker this fall.

"If he can't go at middle linebacker, he'll start at defensive end," Wyatt said. "He's going to start for us somewhere. We can't afford to have a kid like that just sitting and waiting around. He'll be just like (former USF linebackers) Josh Balloon and Ronnie McCullough."

Wyatt said former USF cornerbacks Antwane and Antonio Cox will start at cornerbacks, giving him three former Bulls starting on defense.

-- Roster note: Linebacker Josh Soto, a linebacker at USF for two seasons, has transferred to Florida International. Soto, who did not play while at USF, will sit out the 2008 season and should have two years of eligibility with the Panthers.

[Last modified: Thursday, May 27, 2010 12:35pm]


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