Leavitt on short list for KU job

USF football coach Jim Leavitt is among at least 10 prospective candidates being considered for the Kansas University head football coaching position.

Former head coach Terry Allen was fired Nov. 4, and the Jayhawks finished the season under interim head coach Tom Hayes. Hayes is among the candidates being considered according to the Lawrence Journal-World, but the 59-0 loss against rival Texas in his first game as interim coach may hurt his chances.

The football coach search committee has met every Sunday afternoon for the last three weeks, and phone interviews were conducted in order to shorten the list. The committee is keeping a tight lip about who the leading candidates are.

According to reports out of Lawrence, the list includes Kansas State defensive coordinator Phil Bennett, Purdue offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, former Ohio State coach John Cooper, former Oklahoma head coach Gary Gibbs, Nebraska quarterbacks coach Turner Gill, Michigan State defensive coordinator Bill Miller, Fresno State head coach Pat Hill, along with Hayes and Leavitt. Hill worked for four years with current KU athletic director Al Bohl, and has had tremendous success this season.

Leavitt answered questions about the job possibility at the football media luncheon Tuesday. Leavitt confirmed being contacted about the job at KU.

“I get phone calls from people all the time,” Leavitt said. “I honestly feel like the most blessed man on this earth to be the head football coach at South Florida. I feel like my job is priceless.”

Leavitt was a linebacker coach and defensive coordinator at Kansas’ Big 12 rival Kansas State from 1990-95 before starting the program at South Florida. During his time at Kansas State, the team won three bowl games and finished as high as eighth in the nation’s final poll.

In South Florida’s first year in Division I-A, Leavitt coached the Bulls to an 8-3 record and the team was bowl eligible in their fifth full season. Leavitt’s quick success this season, his history in the state of Kansas and his knowledge of recruiting in Florida could make him a leading candidate for the position.

Leavitt’s success this season has garnered him a lot of media attention, but he contends that he will stay at USF as long as he is able.

“It would be difficult for me to ever, ever leave this program,” Leavitt said. “I feel fortunate that South Florida has allowed me this opportunity. It would be a dream of mine to be able to hang in here until I’m old. Just to be a part of this thing for a long time, and that’s all I really think about.

“To have people notice what we are doing and to get phone calls here or there, you feel good that you might get some interesting calls. (Not because of) me, but because of what our players and coaches have been able to do. To me that is an honor to them.”

  • Contact Jarrett Guthrie at oracleguthrie@yahoo.com