Jim Leavitt led one of the nation’s best defenses at Colorado this season, and now he’s taking his talents north to Eugene. The Oregon Ducks have reportedly swooped in an stolen Leavitt away from Boulder, swaying him to leave by reportedly making him the highest-paid coordinator in Pac-12 history.
Nike co-founder Phil Knight and Oregon aren’t messing around. Willie Taggart was brought in from South Florida as the team’s new head coach after a 10-2 season, and now Taggart has brought in Leavitt, another former South Florida head coach. Taggart’s contract is for five years and $16 million per reports, and if Leavitt could be making north of $2 million a year if he’s going to be the highest-paid assistant in Pac-12 history.
Leavitt turned Colorado’s defense around in two seasons. Before his arrival, the Buffaloes ranked 120th nationally in yards allowed per play. This season they were eighth. In 2016, the Buffs ranked 13th nationally in passing yards allowed (182.0 per game), 40th in rushing yards allowed (146.3 per game) and 18th in points allowed (20.5 per game).
The 60-year-old Leavitt was the head coach at South Florida from 1996 until 2009. He posted a record of 95-57, but he was fired after an investigation revealed he had struck a player. Leavitt refused to admit any wrongdoing and was let go. He was the linebackers coach for the San Francisco 49ers from 2011 through 2014, before joining the staff at Colorado.
Leavitt is a big fish for Taggart and Knight to land, but they have a ton of work to do to fill out the rest of the staff. Still, it’s a nice start.