I'm going to start with a disclaimer that I wasn't a fan back when Leavitt was the head coach.
Why I'm starting with that is to emphasize the fact that I'm not going to see Leavitt in the same rose-tinted glasses that long-time fans will see him in. That's not an insult, there's a reason y'all see him that way. Yes, he built the program from the ground up and that's not something to disregard. He IS extremely important to USF, and he always will be.
However, if Mike Kelly is going to be contacting Leavitt, it should be to ask "who, in your opinion, would be a good person to take over USF," not "I'm considering you to be the head coach of USF again."
Here's the thing: Leavitt's best moments seem to be in the past. It's impossible not to notice the fact that he hasn't held any other head coaching in his career, and it's been a decade since he last coached for USF. There could be many reasons for that, but it stands to reason that if he had been offered another head coach position, he would have taken it. Why wouldn't you? Pride for your old program that you can't legally be involved with anymore? That's silly, you've gotta follow the money.
Leavitt's career highlight since being coach of USF has been a single defense at Colorado that took the Buffs to the PAC 12 Championship. It was a good defense, but if you check S&P, it wasn't even top 25 in the country. It was the best part of that Colorado team, sure, but comparatively, it wasn't even as good as Temple, App State, Arkansas State, or Houston.
And just so we're clear, I don't want to hire Willie either. Coach Swaggart absolutely knows how to rebuild programs and I think he was prematurely fired from FSU, but I think going back to him as well would be a misstep too. We need to keep looking forward if we're to succeed, and that's where we went wrong with Charlie. Sometimes you don't know when a previously fired coach is going to succeed, just look at Sonny Dykes at SMU. But looking back we should have listened to Texas fans about Charlie's failings. But I digress.
To me, the college game has evolved past what Leavitt can coach. He was overall average at Colorado and Oregon, nothing more and nothing less, and no longer holds a main coaching position. I think there's a reason for that. I certainly wouldn't complain if he came back to USF as a quality control guy or similar, he clearly taught the little things correctly and LORD knows we need something like that this upcoming season. But the game has moved past him.
Leavitt is 62, getting toward the twilight of most coaching careers. Names like Kirk Ferentz and Mark Dantonio both were big names at one point, but their recent teams haven't done much to impress. Even Nick Saban is showing signs of being mortal (you're the last person to complain about anything in college football being unfair).
My favorite comparison, however, has been Randy Edsall, and it might be the most apt comparison. Edsall was the head coach of UConn back in the Big East, and he's now taken over the reigns of the Huskies at the age of 61. He bounced around the college football world without finding success before returning to the school where he's found *conference titles* previously. He's amassed 6 wins in 3 seasons since returning, and is showing exactly no signs of improving to any significant degree.
And to that point: USF football under Leavitt was good, it was loud, it made statements, but it never followed through. There are no conference titles, no big name bowl wins. Edsall won the Big East multiple times, but nobody remembers because his current team is an insult to football. And how would it look if that exact thing happened with Leavitt? Edsall didn't inherit the least defensive talent since WWII, yet that's what UConn was in 2018.
The point I'm trying to make is that it would be folly to even consider him for the head coaching spot at this point. On a micro level, we all know rumors would get out and it would whip the Big East era fan base into a frenzy, only to be severely let down when he doesn't get the job, and whoever comes in would face "well we could have had Leavitt" from those fans, especially when the 2020 season goes roughly (and it very likely will). It's not fair to anyone in the program, the new coach, the players, the current students, or the fans.
Don't even give it that chance of happening. It would behoove USF to keep Leavitt's name out of the season with a 10 foot pole because the answers to our problems aren't in our past.
Jim Leavitt simply isn't worthy of consideration of the head coaching position. That's not an insult to what he did for the program, but an acknowledgement of where college football stands today, and where USF stands in the college football system. The AAC has been consistently dominated by young offensive head coaches, and that's what USF should be looking for.
It's a lot of fun looking at the past, former glories, and great figures in the program. But the past is the past, and college football is not the same game as when Leavitt last coached for USF. It's time for the fan base as a whole to realize that what used to be will not happen again in the way that it happened. We *can* rise to the top, we still have that potential, but it will not be with Leavitt or Taggart at the helm. It'll be with a new, young coach leading the way into the modern era of college football.