BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – University of Colorado head football coach Mike McIntyre is hoping a new hire can help his team that won only two games last season. Defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt takes over one of the worst units in the country last year. He talked with CBS4’s Eric Christensen about his new beginning — following a very controversial ending in his past.
Last year McIntyre showed that he wasn’t afraid to hide his emotions after a couple on-field tirades. So it shouldn’t have been any surprise that when he hired a defensive coordinator he found someone with those same attributes.
Christensen asked McIntyre if he thinks Leavitt is the right fit for the job.
“He has unbelievable enthusiasm, unbelievable energy; and watching him around the kids and seeing him around people before, he has a great charisma with him,” McIntyre said.
In an incident as the head coach for University of South Florida Leavitt suffered a bloody gash on his nose … so it can be said he coaches like how he played.
“As a player at Missouri … we played (against CU) … I had a tooth knocked out. It still might be out there on the field somewhere,” Leavitt said. “So I’m going to have the guys look for it when we first get out there and practice.”
All kidding aside, Leavitt has a few peers when it comes to wearing the headsets. He comes to CU after overseeing the NFL’s best linebacking crew in San Francisco. He was the defensive coordinator at Kansas State when Bill Snyder turned the Wildcats around. Then he was hired at South Florida to start the team’s football program from scratch.
Leavitt’s first office was a trailer, but 11 years later he had the Bulls ranked as high as second in the nation.
“(I) have a chance to go to Colorado and do my best here. You know I’m no miracle worker and all that. I just work hard and we’ll do the best we can,” he said. “No one person ever does anything. If people think that Jim Leavitt is going to do this, then they’re going to fail.
“The way that South Florida was built is a lot of people came together.”
But in the end the bond at South Florida was broken. Leavitt was accused of punching one of his players and trying to cover it up. He never admitted to any wrongdoing and was ultimately fired.
“I’ve always told the truth, I’ve always been honest. That’s the way I’ve always been,” Leavitt said. “I was disappointed that I wasn’t going to be at South Florida anymore. But in my heart I was fine … because the only thing I can do is tell the truth and be honest and move forward.”
Christensen asked McIntyre if during the interview process Leavitt had to gain his trust.
“No, not really, because I knew him before; I knew him through all of that,” he said. “And then I got to really know him well when he came to San Jose. We went to church together, I would see him at practices … see him at different things.
“I am excited about Jim being here. I trust him and I believe in him … what we’re going to do.”
“I’ve got to earn my trust over time. You don’t earn trust with someone over a day or a week or a month,” Leavitt said. “I told the players the same thing — I have to earn their trust … I have to earn that, and I will.”
CU certainly feels they can trust Leavitt as his salary is $500,000 a year — the most ever for a Buffs assistant coach.