USF Report Out; Details Leavitt’s Lies About Abuse

The big USF report is out (when’s it available on Kindle?). The University of South Florida released the 33-page tome today, which was three weeks and 29 interviews in the making, and charges that head coach Jim Leavitt grabbed sophomore Joel Miller by the throat and hit him twice in the face at halftime of USF’s home game with Louisville. It’s entertaining reading, in more way than one.

Jim Leavitt

Leavitt was fired on Friday for striking a player and lying to investigators. The investigation found that Leavitt “inappropriately grabbed the throat and slapped the face of a student athlete.” But the report, first released as a pdf file by the USF radio station, had an ironic comedy element as well. Read more…

Player Not Present For “Abuse” Got Leavitt Fired

Jim Leavitt’s tenure at USF ended today after a second USF player came forward on Wednesday to claim publicly that the coach had allegedly abused South Florida player Joel Miller at halftime of the Bulls’ Nov. 21 game vs. Louisville.

Colby Erskin Got Jim Leavitt Fired

(Colby Erskin’s new account of alleged abuse got Leavitt fired)

Wednesday, Bulls wide receiver Colby Erskin claimed WDAE-AM and AOL’s Brett McMurphy that Miller told him of the initially alleged abuse and asked for his advice on what he should do about it. Less than 48 hours later, Leavitt was fired.

Erskin to AOL:

“Joel told me that coach Leavitt was in his face and yelling at him for getting a penalty on a special teams play. He (Joel) said that Coach asked him a question about the play and Joel said he was hesitant to answer. Coach asked him the question a second time and Joel still didn’t answer, so Leavitt grabbed him with one hand around Joel’s neck and he slapped him twice with the other.”

Ironically, Erskin himself was not in the locker room for the incident and did not witness Leavitt’s alleged abuse.

After Erskin confirmed Leavitt’s alleged abuse through Miller, AOL’s McMurphy reports,”Leavitt cleaned out his locker and threw his personal effects into a trash bin. Erskin said he believed that Leavitt suspected him of leaking the story to the media.

Interestingly though, another USF player stepped forward in an interview published this morning in the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES to dispute that Miller was abused.

Read more…

Unauthorized ESPN Interview Makes Leavitt’s Case

Monday Brett McMurphy of AOL FANHOUSE published an extensively-sourced story that alleged USF Football Coach Jim Leavitt punched Bulls player Joel Miller in the face twice after grabbing him by the throat. Miller’s father Paul told McMurphy, “You do something like that [on the street], you put them in jail. Somewhere [Leavitt] crossed the line.”

Jim Leavitt Accused Of Abusing USF Player Joel Miller (Inset)

(Anybody seen the truth?)

Tuesday Paul Miller reversed course to the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES: “I stand behind the university and Coach Leavitt 100 percent. I truly believe there was no malicious intent to hit anyone. He grabbed his shoulder pad, but it was like a motivational thing.

Joel Miller finally spoke on the record about the incident to ESPN’s Joe Schad yesterday: “He [Leavitt] never did any of those things and he never has that I’ve seen. I had some things on my mind because my Grandfather had died the day before.

USF has confirmed it has launched an investigation into Leavitt’s conduct, which also included meeting the media with a bloody nose after the USF Nov. 21 game in which Paul Miller claimed Leavitt had abused his son.

Leavitt has refused comment on the investigation, saying, “It wouldn’t be fair to the process.

But what about Joel Miller’s comments about Leavitt to Schad yesterday? Did USF investigators know Miller was going to make public statements about the case to ESPN? Read more…

Dad Suddenly Backtracks On Leavitt Abuse Claim

Greg Auman of the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES has a strange follow to a report by Brett McMurphy of AOL FANHOUSE that five witnesses claimed USF football coach Jim Leavitt struck Bulls player Joel Miller twice in the team’s locker room at halftime of USF’s game against Louisville on Nov. 21.

Jim Leavitt Grabs USF Player's Facemask

“I’m appalled at it,” Leavitt said (in a denial of the charge) Monday afternoon. “It’s absolutely not true. It’s so wrong. It’s so far out there. I’m very disappointed something like this would be written.”

In contrast to the report, Miller’s father, Paul, in a conversation Monday with the Times, said he does not think his son was so much as slapped and said the incident has been overexaggerated. “I stand behind the university and Coach Leavitt 100 percent,” Paul Miller said. “I truly believe there was no malicious intent to hit anyone. He grabbed his shoulder pad, but it was like a motivational thing. After talking with Joel, he was satisfied there was not a slap, not at all.”

What the hell? That certainly wasn’t the tone of Joel Miller’s father in the AOL report. Paul Miller said of Leavitt, among other things:

“You do something like that [on the street], you put them in jail,” Paul Miller, Joel’s father and a former Tampa police officer, told FanHouse. “Somewhere [Leavitt] crossed the line.”

Auman did not note Paul Miller’s earlier comments in the AOL Fanhouse piece nor the reason for Miller’s profound change of tone about Leavitt. Read more…

7 People Claim USF Coach Leavitt Hit Player Twice

Brett McMurphy of AOL FANHOUSE reports this afternoon:

Jim Leavitt Accused Of Abusing USF Player Joel Miller (Inset)

(Leavitt also sported bloody face after the game in question)

University of South Florida coach Jim Leavitt grabbed a player by the throat then struck him twice in the face during halftime of the Bulls’ Nov. 21 game with Louisville, the player’s father, his high school coach and five members of USF’s football program told FanHouse.

The player alleged to have been struck by Leavitt was 6-foot, 190-pound walk-on Joel Miller, who plays exclusively on special teams. Miller’s father Paul claims that a first-half mistake by his son is what led Leavitt to allegedly attack his son.

When contacted by reporter McMurphey, Leavitt refused to discuss the alleged incident: “I’ll visit with you about recruiting. All the stuff we do in there [the locker room] … I’ll visit with you about recruiting. Things that happen or don’t happen usually are kept within the team — whether they happen or don’t happen. If you want to talk about recruiting, I’ll talk about recruiting.”

All witnesses who reported the incident to McMurphy requested anonymonity except Joel’s father Paul. Joel refused comment when contacted about the incident.

McMurphy notes that it is not known if “Athletic Director Doug Woolard was aware of the incident that the entire team and staff knew had occurred.”

Jim Leavitt Grabs USF Player's Facemask

(Leavitt’s intensity has been well-chronicled

Paul Miller reports that two days after his soon Joel was allegedly attacked, he confronted Leavitt

“Coach I want to talk to you about what happened,” Joel told Leavitt on Nov. 23.

“Before you say anything,” said Leavitt, according to what Miller told others in USF’s program and his father, “just know I am the most powerful man in this building.”

Interestingly though, the day after football coach Mark Mangino resigned from the University of Kansas after being investigated for abusing player, Leavitt apologized to Joel Miller.

Read more…

USF Football Coach Bloodied After Player Headbutt

Jim Leavitt never lets us down. As his USF squad plods through a relatively forgettable season, Leavitt still gives us reason to care - like when he shows up to his postgame presser yesterday looking like this:

USF Coach Jim Leavitt Bloodied After Headbutting Player

Greg Auman of the St. Peterburg Times reports that, “when USF coach Jim Leavitt took the podium after Saturday’s 34-22 win against Louisville, he looked as if he’d played in the game himself, with a bloody gash across the bridge of his nose and a red mark above his left eye.

Leavitt wouldn’t tell the media how he bloodied his face, but his players sold him out. Read more…

Hazardous: Wearing Facemask Around Jim Leavitt

USF Coach Jim Leavitt, who has been known for a dodgy equilibrium in the past, shows off what he learned during his apparent visits to Frank Kush’s annual coaching clinic. (Too old school? Then Lou Holtz.)

Jim Leavitt Grabs USF Player's Facemask

This is the one time when the freeze frames are actually better than the video, which is after the jump. Read more…

S. Florida Tight End Loves To Pistol Whip People

In the last three years, the South Florida football program has finally started to make a name for itself in the world of college football. They finished 9-4 in both 2006 and 2007 before going 8-5 last season, and are looking to break into the BCS with a Big East Conference title this year. Of course, you can’t be considered a big-time college football program until you start getting mentioned in the much heralded Fulmer Cup.

Trent Pupello

Which is why South Florida tight end Trent Pupello should probably be named a captain this season. He knows that the Bulls needed somebody to step up and get the program some recognition, and that he was just the man to get the job done. That’s why he started pistol-whipping everybody in sight during a fight at a bar a few weeks back.

Read more…

South Florida Coach Leavitt Goes Positively Nuts

• We’re staying positive about South Florida coach Jim Leavitt - positive that he’s gone bonkers at this press conference.

Jim Leavitt South Florida coach all wet

(Really, Jim, you need to cool off)

• What folks could be asking come January: Who let the Vick out? (Who? Who-who?)

• A Idaho high school football fighter flattens his coach - and it’s finally caught on tape!

• Meanwhile, this Sixers cheerleader falls head over heels, and it hurts.

Read more…

Speed Read: Jim Leavitt Has Totally Lost His Mind

Being a college football coach is a high-pressure business - maybe not being an air traffic controller or a heart surgeon, where if you screw up people die, but it can be pretty intense. And if your team is getting a nasty reputation for late-season collapses, it might start getting to you after awhile. Witness South Florida coach Jim Leavitt: THE WIZ OF ODDS has video of him losing his mind during a press conference:

This is exactly how my cousin Aldo used to act, right before he took to chasing after the ice cream truck with his pants off and trying to recruit local children to “help repel the Huns.” Despite the lack of blustery, screaming theatrics, I’d still like to suggest that Leavitt ask his doctor if Paxil is right for him.

If ever there was an appropriate way to recap a ridiculously high-scoring (i.e. actually fun to watch) Week 12 in the NFL, the Saints’ 51-29 thrashing of the Packers was it. New Orleans became the 12th team to score 30 or more points this week, more than during any other week this season.

Saints fan before game vs Packers

Drew Bress continued his assault on the NFL record books, throwing for 323 yards and four TDs, but the Saints’ MVP might have been Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers, who had a very Brett Favre-like performance on Monday night, except this was the bad Favre of 2005-2006. Translation: Rodgers threw three interceptions and the Packers had no chance.

And finally, a word to the wise - if you are going to shoot someone flashing a random group of tailgaters before a Cowboys game, try not to do it from directly behind them. Then again, if the flasher in question looks like a 45-year-old high school softball coach, maybe it’s for the best:

Here are some other stories you might have missed last night as you, like the rest of the US, were an emotional wreck after hearing about the Hannity and Colmes divorce:

  • Not even Tiger Woods is recession-proof: BLOOMBERG says that GM is pulling out of its endorsement deal at the end of the year, meaning that he’ll get to quit pretending that he really loves driving a Buick.
  • Tiger Woods and GM

  • Retired NHL goon Claude Lemieux is attempting a comeback, as the CANADIAN POST reports that the 43-year-old has signed a tryout contract with the San Jose Sharks. He’ll be heading to the AHL first to work on his baiting and sucker punching.
  • RIVALS.COM has a depressing look at Northwestern, the worst basketball program of the major conferences and the only which which has never been to the NCAA tournament. But at least their football team has a rich history of…ugh, never mind.
  • Your usual video of a student’s first trip to the Montana/Montana State rivalry, including drinking, push-ups…and a pretty solid catfight at about 1:05 in. (The problem with catfights in Montana in November: too much clothing to rip off.):
  • Despite this week’s performance, THE GRAND NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS would like to see all the Brett Favre vs. Aaron Rodgers comparisons stop, thanks.
  • The Clippers/Knicks trade is in limbo because of questions about Cuttino Mobley’s heart, says David Aldridge on NBA.COM. Literally - the Knicks have concerns about a possible pre-existing heart condition.
  • Mike Shanahan tells the AP that he’s OK with players taking out idiot fans who run out onto the field during games. How does he expect his team to tackle rowdy fans if they can’t even stop the Raiders?
  • Bob Arum confirms to ESPN.COM that the fight between Antonio Margarito and Shane Mosley is back on for Jan. 24 in Las Vegas, as boxing continues to respond to rumors of its demise by putting out decent fight cards.
  • Eric Thomas, who helped lead Kent State to the Elite Eight back in 2002, has been sentenced to eight years in prison for burglary and assault. The DAILY KENT STATER says that’s enough to get a banner with his accomplishments pulled off the rafters, but not enough for his number to be unretired.
  • Roger Goodell tells BROADCASTING & CABLE that despite the BCS package going to ESPN, we shouldn’t expect NFL playoff games on cable anytime soon. Also of note: the BCS considered a package that would have put all the BCS games on FX, which is just weird.

When you think “historically inept sports teams” you think about…

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