Post-loss special: Leavitt Verbatim!
Oh, what a mess the postgame interviews were after Saturday's 22-15 loss at Connecticut. Coach Jim Leavitt's initial dealings with the media were less than two minutes -- we'll have that in a sec -- but things got bad enough with nearly all players and coaches saying they weren't allowed to talk to the media that we had to complain to USF officials, who convinced Leavitt to make a few players available; he came back out for a more professional four minutes of questions and answers later. From what I'm gathering from blog commenters, Leavitt was even shorter with his own radio folks after the game.
I'm not sure exactly how close I came to being arrested a few minutes later -- overzealous police/security folks took exception to media members "bothering" players in the only area designated for interviews. At one point the phrase "You're compromising my ramp" was uttered at me. It's probably not something I should blog about, but if you run into me sometime, it's a fun one to ask about.
Anyway, here's Leavitt's initial two minutes -- and this is more than offensive coordinator Greg Gregory gave for the media -- he spoke with the Tribune as he left the locker room, but when Leavitt asked us who he could bring off off the team bus for interviews, he said Gregory wasn't going to address the media. Just to be clear: tight end Cedric Hill -- who killed one tying touchdown with a penalty, then had another score bounce off his chest for a bad, bad drop -- walked off the bus as requested and was big enough to talk not just about the game, but take ownership for the catch he said he should have made. Gregory, who has been a college head coach for two seasons, a coordinator for 14 seasons, wouldn't do that. Defensive coordinator Wally Burnham was the only coach or player to talk before we had to complain.
So here's Leavitt, who to his credit prefaced his comments by saying he didn't feel like staying long: "I hope you understand." Enjoy.
BRETT MCMURPHY, Tampa Tribune: Talk about that last possession there at the end for you guys.
LEAVITT: We didn't score.
MCMURPHY: I know. When you got down to the goal line ...
LEAVITT (interrupting): We didn't score.
MCMURPHY: Was that a naked bootleg?
MCMURPHY: Was is supposed to be a pass or a run?
LEAVITT: It was a run.
ME: On the previous down, having (Mo) Plancher in the game, what was the thinking there?
LEAVITT: I'm not even sure. I didn't (unintelligible) Moise was in the game. Mike Ford got hurt. He was out of the game. We couldn't use him anymore. We tried to use him as much as we could. He hurt his shoulder.
MCMURPHY: Do you feel you guys wasted too many opportunities?
LEAVITT: Sure. Yeah. Anything else? What else? Anybody else. I answered you. We wasted too many opportunities. Yes, I agree. You're welcome.
ME: The first half, digging a 16-point hole there, having to work to come back from that ...
LEAVITT: Proud of our guys. We battled our tail. You didn't see any quit in this football team, I promise you. Didn't play good enough for 60 minutes of football, that's for sure.
REPORTER: Jim, can you talk about the game in the trenches? It seemed like that's where it was won, up front.
LEAVITT: Well, they moved the ball on us in the first half extremely well. We didn't play very good defense, that I promise you. We didn't play very good offense. We didn't not play very good in the first half. That was really. We can came in and really talked about 'Let's play some football and do the things we need to do to win a football game.' Real bad on the kickoff. I was really disappointed on that. Gave them great field position. You can't do that. I told them we had to kick really well here, and we had a bad kick. And poor tackling a lot in the game. Really, really poor. We've done that two weeks in a row now.
REPORTER: What about conditions, the field conditions?
LEAVITT: It was fine. It was fine.
DENIS GORMAN, Times correspondent: How troubling were the dropped passes and the penalties in the second half?
JOEY JOHNSTON, Tampa Tribune: The way Grothe played in the second half ...
LEAVITT (interrupting): Warrior! Warrior! Warrior! Love him!
REPORTER: Did UConn maybe show you something that you didn't know about them before?
REPORTER: You expected they would have this kind of (unintelligible)?
LEAVITT: Yes. Anything else? Thank you.