ORLANDO — Former Bucs and Colts coach Tony Dungy, in Orlando at the national coaches convention, said he enjoyed speaking with USF's football team Monday as the players met for the first time since Jim Leavitt's firing.
"That's a traumatic time. You're a young person and the coach you're playing for is no longer there," Dungy said. "I just wanted to talk to some of those guys about what it means to continue to strive, to continue to work for your goals and stay together as a team, how they're going to have to stick together until they get another coach. It was a good time, and hopefully it helped."
Dungy said he always felt a "kindred" bond with Leavitt because they started their coaching jobs in Tampa at the same time, and having seen the progress Leavitt made with the Bulls in 13 years, he understood why the firing was difficult for the USF players.
"You could see the hurt and the questions. Everybody wants to know where we go from here, who's next," Dungy said. "The assistant coaches have done a great job, but it's a question for a young person: Where are we going? That's what I tried to get across to them. A lot of things happen in the course of life, and not all of them are great, not all of them are the way we would design it. You can still persevere and get to your goals. They can still do that. That was the message, and I believe they will."
Dungy reiterated that he did not visit USF as any kind of candidate for the coaching vacancy, that he's enjoying his retirement from coaching and his work as part of NBC's NFL coverage and has no intention of coaching again.
"I have a job that I enjoy, and that's where I am right now," Dungy said. "I'm out of the coaching business at this point."
Dungy said he told USF athletic director Doug Woolard that he would gladly offer input if the Bulls were looking at candidates from the NFL ranks.
"I told them I'd be there to help," he said. "But they have a great search committee in place. I am not part of the search committee, so I don't have any inside information. I just told them I would be a resource and be available."
Big crowd: USF has pulled out the stops to boost attendance for the men's basketball game against West Virginia tonight at home. The latest promotion is that all regular-priced tickets are buy one, get one free. The Bulls drew an announced 5,107 for last week's home game against Notre Dame and have averaged 4,115 in seven home dates.
This and that: Former USF defensive coordinator Rick Kravitz, who has coached at three schools since leaving the Bulls four years ago, is now the defensive coordinator at I-AA Youngstown State. … Freshman G Jordan Dumars, who said he was transferring from USF last month, has landed close to home at Michigan. Dumars, son of Pistons great Joe Dumars, will be a walk-on.
Greg Auman can be reached at [email protected] and at (813) 226-3346. Check out his blog at blogs.tampabay.com/usf and follow him at Twitter.com/gregauman.