Thursday, January 14, 2010

Skip Holtz reported to be new coach at USF

Posted By on Thu, Jan 14, 2010 at 2:02 PM

click to enlarge Skip Holtz

The Web site Fanhouse is reporting this afternoon that East Carolina Coach Skip Holtz will take over at USF, replacing Jim Leavitt.

The 45 year-old Holtz, the son of former Notre Dame coach and now ESPN broadcaster Lou Holtz, led East Carolina this year to their second straight Conference USA title in 2009, as well as a Liberty Bowl virtory against Arkansas.  In his five seasons at East Carolina,  his team went to four bowl games, and he had a record of  38-27 .  Prior to that, he coached at Connecticut, and had a successful 38-23 record.

Meanwhile, Joel Miller, the walk on sophomore who Coach Leavitt has been accused of slapping in the face, leading to his ultimate firing, held a news conference today in downtown Tampa with his high powered attorney, Barry Cohen.

Or should we say, Barry Cohen had a news conference with Miller?  That's because after an opening statement, Miller did not speak for the duration of the thirty minute presser.  Nor did his parents, who stood behind him.

Miller said that growing up in Tampa, he had attended Leavitt's football camps since he was 12.  He said that the truth of the now infamous event was  "he grabbed me by the neck, and he hit me twice."  Miller said he considered Leavitt a father figure, and said when the coach hit him he was more stunned than anything, saying, "I wasn't going to lash out at my coach.  You just don't do that."

Miller said "everybody knows the truth what happened in that locker room," saying he wanted the situation to remain 'in house".

Of course, that's not what happened, as the story was reported on the Fanhouse Web Site last month, leading USF to conduct an investigation that led to Leavitt's termination last week.

"All I want is the truth to come out, and have Coach Leavitt admit he did grab me, and he did hit me twice."

Attorney Cohen said throughout the news conference that "it wasn't about a lawsuit, and it wasn't about money."  Instead the attorney said, it was all about Leavitt owning up to his mistake, to "man up", as it were.

But Leavitt will do no such thing.

The Tampa Tribune is reporting that one of Leavitt's attorneys, Wil Florin, says there won't be any apology.

Why would he apologize for something he didn't do?'' Florin said. "I don't want to get into (what) Joel Miller (said), but clearly he is under a lot of pressure from a lot of people. I think the real story is how the university will respond. It should do the right thing and reinstate Coach Leavitt to his job.''

Florin said USF is ignoring a new witness, Mike Durakovic, the father of another USF walk-on player and a volunteer assistant who is not paid by the school. Florin said Durakovic, who was not part of the university's formal investigation, was in close proximity to the alleged incident and insists Leavitt did not choke or slap Miller.

The money quote came from Cohen at one point, when he said, ""We don't know much about football, but we know plenty about hard ball.  And we're ready to play hard ball."

What does it all mean? That the era of Woody Hayes like tactics on players is a thing of the past.  Or as Wake Forest's Jim Groebe, who played at Virginia in the 1970's, tells today's USA TODAY:

"It was never unusual for a coach to put his hands on you," said Jim Grobe of Wake Forest,  who played at Virginia in the early 1970s. "They'd grab you by the facemask and kick you in the seat of your pants or slap you in the headgear to wake you up, things like that. That was just kind of standard. Things have changed today. As the years have gone by we've probably gotten a little smarter in the way we deal with our kids.

"I think there's always a toughness issue involved in football. It's a contact sport, and your kids have to be tough and have to be physical. I think the best way to look at it is to treat players like we would our own sons."

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