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Football team’s offseason woes

When it’s the off-season and there is no football to talk about, players should be on their best behavior. Some USF football players found that out the hard way when they had to look their coach in the eye after being arrested.

Devon Davis and Curtis Chance sat outside Jim Leavitt’s office waiting for their coach to return. Leavitt was gone, but would be back for the 1 p.m. meeting he set up. When Leavitt returned, it’s safe to say the three men did not go over defensive schemes.

Davis, Chance and a former USF football player were arrested the week prior for marijuana possession, prompting Leavitt to call for the meeting. Redshirt freshman Dorrean James had already been dismissed from the team after the arrests.

Compound this incident with Brian Fisher’s off-the-field legal problems (he was arrested for the fourth time earlier this month), and eyebrows were raised.Leavitt set the record straight.

“We had two guys that got caught with pot,” he said. “Two are with us and one is no longer with us. I am very strong with what I say and our actions speak for themselves. Smoking pot, we’re pretty serious about it here. Again, one person is not with us.”

While other football programs have faced off-field problems as well, Leavitt said his focus is on what happens at USF.

“That is too much for me,” Leavitt said. “And we don’t want to compare — I don’t want to compare our program to others, but if you compare them, we probably have a lot less (off-the-field problems) than others. But it doesn’t matter to me. We’re going to deal with South Florida. We’re not going to be like another program because they’re like it or not (be) like it because they’re like it. We’re going to do what’s best for South Florida and that’s it.”

“Every issue is important to deal with, but to a certain degree. We’re not talking about battery. We’re not talking about guns and theft. I think people who follow our program know that we’re a little different.”

You don’t have to look far to find other programs that have players with off-season legal issues.

Two University of Florida players made headlines in June after allegedly punching and kicking a fellow student at a party. Another UF player was arrested a week earlier for a felony count of aggravated battery for allegedly throwing a partially full beer keg into the face of another student, causing a concussion and a broken nose.

At FSU, a player cursed at Tallahassee police officers and challenged one to a fight outside an off-campus nightclub in the early morning hours of July 10, according to his arrest report. Officers had to use pepper spray and a Taser stun gun to subdue and arrest him after he kicked one officer and tried to punch another in the face, according to a Tampa Tribune report.

Athletic Director Doug Woolard says a university’s relationships with student athletes are like a partnership.

“We don’t need outside distractions taking away from what we’re trying to get done. I think students will realize that more and more as we move forward.

“I know that in the short time that I’ve had the chance to be around coach Leavitt, I think that discipline is one of the things that has been and will continue to be at the heart of the success of his program. So I know that he has evaluated all of those situations very carefully and has indicated to the players who have had any difficulty what his expectation is for them to return to this program and be a part of this program.

“I think he is the kind of person who is not going to put up with a whole lot of foolishness. He’s going to have high expectations about how people perform on and off the field. When somebody does stub their toe and make a mistake, I’ve seen him take that very seriously, because there is not a whole lot of substitute for discipline if you’re going to be successful.”