Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Did Leavitt Attack A Player?

I’m sure most of us have heard by now about University of South Florida Head Coach, Jim Leavitt, allegedly accosting one of his players during halftime of the Louisville game a few weeks back. According to sources, Leavitt grabbed and choked sophomore walk-on, Joel Miller, due to a couple of mistakes Miller made on special teams, one of which the sophomore was flagged for. Leavitt then struck the young man twice.

These are serious allegations considering the investigation that took place at Kansas that cost Mark Mangino his head coaching job. Ironically enough, Mangino and Leavitt were both assistants together at Kansas State.

I’m not exactly sure what to believe and I’m certainly not going to pass judgment until all of the facts are present, but there’s definitely a ton of smoke to waft through. Leavitt refuses to comment on the claims and says he’ll only talk about recruiting, not the alleged incident.

Miller proclaims five witnesses and an unnamed source has been interviewed on the situation, but there are still many facets that do not make sense. Like, why did Miller come forward about the incident nearly three weeks later? Miller says it’s because he was afraid that if he approached Leavitt about the episode, Leavitt would bench him, or worse, kick him off of the team. Also, this is a pretty unique circumstance and the story acknowledges that it happened in the locker room at halftime, so why are there only five witnesses and not eighty? This is a major event and you’d think an assistant coach or teammate would’ve tried and pull Leavitt off of Miller if this was true.

It has been documented that Leavitt called Miller into his office after Mangino resigned from Kansas stemming from the live television broadcast of the former Kansas head coach assaulting a player. No one knows what was said, but it’s pretty ironic Leavitt wanted to speak with his player after his old coaching mate was under heavy scrutiny for a similar situation. Problem is, the Mangino hit is a youtube sensation, while Leavitt’s alleged strike happened behind closed doors.

In the court of public opinion, Jim Leavitt is already seen as a “bad guy.” We’ve all seen his tantrum’s on the sidelines. Yelling at his players, grabbing their facemasks, scowling, and making his presence known through intimidation, but we can’t judge him on those exploits alone. There will obviously be an internal investigation and USF better do a perfect job because if the NCAA isn’t happy with South Florida’s findings they’ll inject themselves in the investigation and that is the last thing the University needs, especially now when it’s a crucial time in football recruiting. The school also doesn’t want to screw anything up, potentially costing an innocent man his career as well as even being considered for future jobs.

Stay tuned…

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