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Former USF football coach Jim Leavitt backs Miami coach Al Golden

TAMPA — Jim Leavitt, matchmaker?

Turns out the former USF football coach recommended Temple's Al Golden to Miami athletic director Kirby Hocutt (who played for Leavitt as a linebacker at Kansas State), and Hocutt liked what he saw in Golden during the interview process, hiring him as coach.

"I just told Kirby that I thought he was impressive," Leavitt said Tuesday. "I was very impressed with how well he did at Temple, and some people that know him well spoke very highly of him."

Leavitt never faced Golden in a game but nearly did last season — as the Bulls were waiting to find out their bowl opponent, Leavitt thought it would be Northern Illinois (which the Bulls defeated 27-3 in Toronto) or Temple. He watched tape of several Temple games, and knowing the school's humble background, struggling during its years in the Big East, he kept an eye on the Owls.

"I saw how explosive they were," said Leavitt, who watched this year's Temple-Connecticut game on TV and saw the Owls beat the eventual Big East champions. "I recruited New Jersey when I was at Kansas State, and I know how difficult it was at Temple. So I watched him from afar. I'm always intrigued by people who can do a lot with a little."

Could be big: Today starts the signing period for junior college football players enrolling in January, and USF is hoping for another in a long line of successful juco defensive ends. Jason Pierre-Paul, a first-round NFL draft pick in April, is obviously the Bulls' model, but both of this year's senior starters, David Bedford and Craig Marshall, were junior college signees.

The top target for USF is Cornellius "Tank" Carradine, one of the nation's top junior college recruits, said to be choosing between USF and FSU. Another target, DT Gilbert Pena, is deciding today and has USF among his final options.

USF is expected to have junior college standout Mike Jeune sign today and join the team next month, competing to start at strongside linebacker.

And both quarterbacks who committed to the Bulls — Land O'Lakes star Stevie Weatherford and Milton's Matt Floyd — are expected to enroll early and join the Bulls next month.

This and that: Rising senior Venicia Reid, USF's No. 2 scorer on the Bulls' first NCAA Tournament women's soccer team, has been dismissed from the team for an unspecified violation of team rules. Reid led USF with seven assists this season and was second with seven goals. … Scoring is a major issue for men's basketball, but a close second is turnovers — USF ranks 303rd nationally in turnover margin, with Wake Forest as the only major-conference school lower than the Bulls. … Hillsborough's Terrence Mitchell was named a first-team freshman All-American by Rivals.com and Philsteele.com as a punt returner. He led all NCAA freshmen with an average of 10.2 yards. Steele also put USF redshirt freshman LB DeDe Lattimore on his first team. … Single-game tickets for men's basketball Big East matchups are on sale at gousfbulls.com or toll-free at 1-800-462-8557.

Greg Auman can be reached at auman@sptimes.com and at (813) 226-3346. Check out his blog at tampabay.com/blogs/bulls.

Former USF football coach Jim Leavitt backs Miami coach Al Golden 12/14/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 14, 2010 10:28pm]

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