TAMPA — USF athletic director Doug Woolard's focus was in Orlando at the national coaches' convention, where the buzz Monday was on East Carolina coach Skip Holtz emerging as a prime candidate to be fired Jim Leavitt's successor.
Nothing could be confirmed late Monday, but speculation was heavy that the Bulls could be a match for Holtz, the son of a coaching great who has guided the Pirates to back-to-back Conference USA championships.
Holtz, 38-27 in five seasons at ECU, has strong family ties to Florida and professional ties to Big East schools. The talk among coaches in Orlando suggests Woolard is acting quickly to find a new coach.
Holtz, 45, is the son of former Notre Dame and South Carolina coach Lou Holtz, now an analyst with ESPN who lives near Orlando. The coach's wife, Jennifer, is from Port Charlotte; they met while he was a graduate assistant at FSU in 1987-88.
Holtz was head coach at Connecticut in 1994-98, and he finished his college career at Notre Dame. He also coached with the Irish in 1990-93.
He signed a six-year contract before the 2008 season, one that would pay a base salary of $655,000 in 2010. His buyout clause is $100,000.