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Jim Leavitt - He WANTS to be in Boulder

skighee

Member
For the right price, you might coax the man out of Boulder. You’d need a stinking 5-gallon flamethrower to burn the Boulder out of the man.

“I’ll be honest with you: There is no reason for Colorado to take a back seat to anybody,” former CU and Oregon defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt said by phone from St. Petersburg, Fla. “We won 10 games the second year I was there (2016). I felt like we should’ve beaten Washington in the (Pac-12) championship game.

“CU has everything to sell. It’s the most beautiful place … People say Eugene is like Boulder. They’re out of their minds. It’s not even close. Boulder is so picturesque. The sun comes out, and it doesn’t come out in Eugene, it rains the whole time. It’s not a knock on the (Oregon) people, (but) they’re not even close.“To sell the University of Colorado — there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to build and go after Pac-12 championships.”


Sounds like a mission statement, doesn’t it? A line drawn in the dirt just north of Red Rocks, the perfect monologue to kick off a job interview. One catch: Leavitt says the Buffs didn’t give him one last fall.

“I never interviewed at CU,” says the 62-year-old coaching veteran, who was floated as a candidate last November to replace his old boss, Mike MacIntyre, before the big shoes were eventually filled by former Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. “I wanted the job, there’s no doubt.

“And I reached out to (Buffs athletic director) Rick George, but I don’t think their focus was on me. Did I want to go to CU? Yes. I knew the players and I felt like I knew what it takes and my home was right there in Boulder. In other words, you want to go somewhere where you have a passion for the job, where it fits. And it made sense to me — but not to anybody else.

“Obviously I love it (there) because I never left. But Rick, I don’t think was happy with me leaving and going to Oregon. I don’t blame him. But hey, they doubled my salary, what was I going to do?”

He laughs. Leavitt never sold his Boulder home, never really moved his family, even after the Ducks threw him a $1.15 million salary in December 2016 — twice what he was making at CU at the time ($511,990).

Last fall, Leavitt ranked No. 6 nationally on USA Today’s assistant coaching salaries database, at $1.7 million, on a contract that ran through 2022. Only this past February, after months of …

• an environment labeled by local scribes as awkward, at times, with first-year Oregon coach Mario Cristobal, given that the pair had both lobbied to replace Willie Taggart on the throne;

• alleged interviews for head-coaching vacancies at Kansas State (true, Leavitt says), Texas Tech (also true) and CU (not so much) …

… Leavitt left Oregon in what the university termed a “mutually reached agreement” with a financial settlement worth up to $2.5 million.

For much of the past five months, one of college football’s most interesting free agents — the Power 5’s version of Dallas Keuchel — has either lived la dolce vita in Boulder County or visited old coaching friends across the country. At last count, Leavitt says, he’s dropped by USC, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Stanford, Michigan, Kansas, LSU and Colorado State. Heck, he went to Death Valley twice.

“I really dig (CSU coach Mike) Bobo,” Leavitt said. “I know that they struggled last year, but I think that he does a good job.”

He even shot over to the Broncos’ OTAs at the invitation of Vic Fangio, an old pal and mentor. The two worked together on Jim Harbaugh’s staff with the 49ers — Fangio as defensive coordinator, Leavitt as linebackers coach — from 2011-14.

“To be honest, Vic taught me so much,” Leavitt says of the new Broncos coach, whom he credits with converting him from his preferred 4-3 front to a more flexible 3-4.

“I was like a little kid, asking Vic questions every day, driving him nuts. ‘Why do you do this? Why do you do that?’ After spending all those years (with him), I used CU as a guinea pig.”

A guinea pig that, over time, became a monster. The Buffs went from allowing 39 points (11th in the Pac-12) and 460.9 yards per game (11th) in 2014, the fall before Leavitt arrived, to giving up 21.4 points (No. 3 in the league) and 342.5 yards per contest (No. 2) in Leavitt’s second season, rolling all the way to the 2016 South title.

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“Oregon, they’re loaded, the (Ducks) should win that whole (Pac-12) now, there’s nobody with the talent they’ve got,” Leavitt said of the autumn to come. “And Colorado will be fun to watch.”

He’s planning on watching Tucker’s Buffs in person, as well as Fangio’s Broncos, as often as he can. Despite job offers for analyst positions from a handful of SEC and ACC bluebloods, Leavitt is leaning toward a fall in BoCo, re-charging his batteries and tending to the women in his life: wife Jody; daughters Isabella and Sofia; and his mother, 93-year-old Lois, whom he’s spent a chunk of the summer with, commuting from Boulder to her residence in the Tampa Bay area.

“I wanted to spend time with my girls and my wife,” Leavitt says. “I’m sitting back.”

Catching a sunset with Lois? Or a concert with Judy? A window, for once, to be able to walk your daughters to class on their first day of school?

Priceless, the lot. These days, Leavitt figures, he can afford to be choosy. And it’s got nothing to do with Oregon’s money.
 

tante

Club Member
Club Member
Hey Jim, thanks for coming by. Care to explain why you left for a higher offer during the middle of our best season of the last 15 years? Cause we are a bit sensitive about things like that right now.
He did say they doubled his salary.
 

Buffnik

Real name isn't Nik
Club Member
Junta Member
It's gratifying to see Leavitt try to come crawling back. Especially today. This is the guy who gave that coach award speech ripping others for not sticking to their commitments and then promptly bolted for Oregon when they showed him some cheddar.

Yep. Today it's especially gratifying to see.
 
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Buffnik

Real name isn't Nik
Club Member
Junta Member
You know the most ironic thing about Leavitt?

He wanted so badly to be a HC again and thought the profile of the Oregon job & record salary would get him there.

Not only did Oregon pass him over when Taggart left after a year, no other school strongly considered him for any HC job.

But if he'd stayed at CU, I bet he'd have gotten MacIntyre 1 more win in 2017.

That would have resulted in MM getting the Ole Miss opening he wanted so badly that year.

And Leavitt would have been the HC at Colorado the past 2 seasons.
 

4thGenBuff

Club Member
Club Member
Many people say that CU has not been good in 20 years but we were "good" in 2016. I consider Pac 12 South Champs and 10 wins to be a good season. Granted the Pac 12 Championship Game and bowl did not get well. I really felt that Leavitt leaving was a major factor in the post season losses.

How much credit does Leavitt get for what went right that season?
 

Creebuzz

Survives on seaweed and Natty Boh.
Club Member
Many people say that CU has not been good in 20 years but we were "good" in 2016. I consider Pac 12 South Champs and 10 wins to be a good season. Granted the Pac 12 Championship Game and bowl did not get well. I really felt that Leavitt leaving was a major factor in the post season losses.

How much credit does Leavitt get for what went right that season?
Leavitt performed his job as DC well that year. It was shared credit among him, MacIntyre, and Tumpkin. But most of the credit belongs to a great group of upperclassmen leaders on that team.
 

The Ogre

Club Member
Club Member
You know the most ironic thing about Leavitt?

He wanted so badly to be a HC again and thought the profile of the Oregon job & record salary would get him there.

Not only did Oregon pass him over when Taggart left after a year, no other school strongly considered him for any HC job.

But if he'd stayed at CU, I bet he'd have gotten MacIntyre 1 more win in 2017.

That would have resulted in MM getting the Ole Miss opening he wanted so badly that year.

And Leavitt would have been the HC at Colorado the past 2 seasons.
And a perfect example of why you don’t myopically spit in the face of karma to double your money.
 

Not Sure

Club Member
Club Member
Seems that he burned the bridge with RG when he left, but there are a lot worse choices out there, IMO.
 

Liver

modded mod
Club Member
Junta Member
hard pass. enjoy retirement. undercutting coaches and the ad while you are working here is very tuckerian. and i think we've seen enough tucking for a few decades. now tuck off.
 
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