Rival West Virginia takes two coaches

On Monday, offensive coordinator Rod Smith and offensive line coach Greg Frey became the third and fourth assistant coaches this offseason to leave USF.

Smith, who spent four seasons as the Bulls’ quarterbacks coach before becoming the offensive coordinator in 2005, has already been replaced by Greg Gregory, USF’s tight ends coach for the past two seasons.

Earlier this offseason, coach Jim Leavitt also lost defensive line coach Bernard Clark and receivers coach Lawrence Dawsey, who took jobs at Florida International and Florida State, respectively.

Despite the loss of four coaches since USF’s 24-7 win against East Carolina in the Papajohns.com Bowl on Dec. 23, Leavitt isn’t concerned or surprised.

“I knew that would happen with success,” said Leavitt, whose Bulls are ranked No. 25 in CBSsportsline.com’s 2007 preseason poll. “When you have a new program, everybody wants to grab anybody that can explain why they can win games.”

Mike Simmonds, who was a defensive graduate assistant last season, replaces Frey as USF’s offensive line coach. Simmonds is a former NFL offensive lineman and Jefferson High School coach. Leavitt said he knew Simmonds would become one of his assistants six years ago.

“I’m real excited about Mike Simmonds,” Leavitt said. “He’s got quite a resume now, and he’s going to do a really good job with the offensive line.”

Smith returns to the state of West Virginia where he played at Glenville State and coached at Franklin High School. Smith was also the Mountaineers’ quarterback coach during spring practices in 2000 before leaving for Clemson.

“I’m excited for (Smith) to get a chance to go back home,” Leavitt said. “Those opportunities don’t happen very often, and I know how excited I was coming back here.”

The Bulls beat then-No.7 West Virginia 24-19 on Nov. 25 in what was arguably their biggest win to date.