ORLANDO — We know USF has an interest in Skip Holtz, and we now know the East Carolina football coach has an interest in the Bulls' coaching vacancy.
Ask former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz how he'd feel about his son coming to Tampa and the Orlando resident sounds less like an ESPN analyst and more like a hopeful grandparent.
"It would be great. We'd have the whole I-4 corridor covered," said Holtz, whose son Kevin is a public defender in Daytona Beach. "I think Skip feels the same way I do."
Skip Holtz confirmed Tuesday that he had been contacted by USF on Sunday and that he had an interest in the Bulls job, both as a career move and as a chance to bring his family closer together.
"My parents live here in Orlando; my wife is from Port Charlotte," he said Tuesday morning. "It's a Big East job, and I think it's a great situation. … There's a lot of positives to it. I think it's definitely an up-and-coming program. Yeah, there'd be interest, but I don't know what's going to happen with it at this point."
Holtz returned to North Carolina on Tuesday night, and as of mid-afternoon, he had not heard back from USF for a formal interview. But his name has been the most prominent one with mutual interest regarding the job vacated when the Bulls fired Jim Leavitt on Friday.
Holtz hasn't been the only name mentioned. Former Bulls assistant Calvin Magee, a USF graduate now the offensive coordinator at Michigan, has shown interest, and former USF defensive line coach Dan McCarney, now in the same job at Florida, has been mentioned as a candidate. Bucs special teams coach Rich Bisaccia has picked up many local endorsements as being worthy of consideration. Former Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer said Tuesday that he was interested, though he hadn't heard from USF about the job.
Yahoo.com reported Tuesday that Middle Tennessee State coach Rick Stockstill, a former Florida State quarterback who is from Fernandina Beach, had been contacted by USF on Sunday to gauge his interest. The news that Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin had been hired at USC opens a high-profile job, but it's unknown how much that will interfere with USF's search.
Lou Holtz reiterated that his son is in a good situation at East Carolina, where he has won back-to-back Conference USA championships, but said the USF job is good enough to merit his consideration.
"He has a great job where he is, but he has an obligation, to him and his family, to listen to what they have to say," he said. "As a coach, you want to take a program as far as you can take it. I think at South Florida, you have a BCS conference in a great recruiting area and a great place to live. I think it can be an excellent job."
Leavitt, meanwhile, retained attorneys Monday, saying his firing was unwarranted and asking to be reinstated as head coach, something USF has no intentions of doing. The two sides will meet at a downtown Tampa law office this morning for a post-termination meeting. USF president Judy Genshaft isn't expected to attend, with provost Ralph Wilcox scheduled to represent the university.
USF fired Leavitt on Friday after a university investigation found that he grabbed walk-on running back Joel Miller by the throat and slapped him twice in the face during halftime of USF's Nov. 21 game against Louisville. Leavitt has strongly denied the allegations, but USF determined he had committed "serious violations" of its conduct policies, not only for the locker-room incident but for lying to investigators and interfering with the investigation.
Because Leavitt was fired "with cause," USF is only contractually obligated to pay him one month's base salary, or $66,667. Had he been fired "without cause" — such as for not winning enough games — Leavitt would be entitled to 75 percent of what was left on his seven-year contract, which amounts to $7.1 million. Leavitt's legal maneuvering could be with an eye toward seeking some kind of settlement.
Greg Auman can be reached at email@example.com and at (813) 226-3346. Check out his blog at blogs.tampabay.com/usf and follow him at Twitter.com/gregauman.