Column: Leavitt instills, insists perfection

To say coach Jim Leavitt was a bit peeved about the Bulls performance last week would be as much of an understatement as saying Miami is getting the shaft in the current Bowl Championship Series standings.

Despite romping to an expected 68-37 win against the Flames, Leavitt’s mood during the post-game news conference was indicative of a coach who just watched his team get plastered on national television.

“It wasn’t a very good game,” he said. “We didn’t play with very much discipline.”

One gets the feeling Leavitt wouldn’t be satisfied with the USF beating the Hurricanes in Miami by the same score the Bulls drubbed the Flames. Leavitt is the quintessential perfectionist and demands the same from his players and coaching staff. He probably has a bone to pick with God for only scheduling 24 hours a day in which to work.

And although the Bulls’ comfortable margin of victory was enough to satisfy most fans, Leavitt’s demeanor following the game belied his displeasure.

“I wasn’t looking at how many points we scored,” Leavitt said. “I wasn’t looking at winning the game. I was looking at the discipline of our football team and play after play after play, doing the right things.”

To the casual observer, this sounds like a ridiculous statement. Twenty of the Flames’ 38 points came during the fourth quarter when USF was on cruise control, and Bulls’ starters were already standing on the sidelines discussing their post-game plans for the night.

But Leavitt’s engine doesn’t have cruise control.

And his personality trickles down to his players. Ask Marquel Blackwell about his 295 yards and three passing touchdowns against Southern Utah, and the junior quarterback will tell you about his one interception. Ask receiver Huey Whittaker about the plays he’s made this season, and he’ll likely tell you about the one’s he didn’t.

To comprehend Leavitt’s unquenchable thirst for perfection, you have to understand his vision for the future – which doesn’t begin or end with a Division I-AA opponent such as Liberty.”(We made) a million mistakes (against Liberty) and hopefully we’ll get different things corrected or we’ll have a very difficult time with Houston,” Leavitt said. “We can’t play like that and have any chance of winning a ballgame.”

Unless of course the team lining up against you is the caliber of Liberty. But the Bulls do not have that luxury this week when Houston comes to town for USF’s Homecoming game.

“Houston is too good, and they have too many athletes,” Leavitt said.

And while the Cougars will never be confused with the ‘Canes, Houston’s talent dwarfs that of Liberty. But Leavitt has his sights set on one day elevating his program to a level where the Bulls can compete with the ‘Canes of the college football world.”There are objectives for this program and it’s not just beating Liberty,” Leavitt said.

And because of that, mistakes will never be tolerated.

  • Brandon Wright covers football and can be reached at