No, Blake Baker has not been relieved of his duties.
No, Jim Leavitt has not been rumored to the Miami Hurricanes for any position on the staff.
Yes, Manny Diaz should contact him if there so happened to be a defensive coordinator vacancy at The U.
Let’s meet Jim, shall we?
Flashback to that wild and crazy year in 2007 when the college football gods could not decide on who was worthy enough to remain atop the rankings. The USC Trojans, LSU Tigers, West Virginia Mountaineers, Florida Gators, Oklahoma Sooners, California Bears, and Ohio State Buckeyes all found themselves ranked in the top three at some point in both the AP and Coaches Poll before the BCS rankings were released.
That season was such an outlier, the Kansas Jayhawks reached a BCS number two ranking in week 13, and the Missouri Tigers were the top ranked team in the BCS as late as week 14.
But it was the initial BCS rankings that were unveiled in week eight that took college football by surprise. Jim Leavitt’s South Florida Bulls were victorious over the then 17th ranked Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare stadium in their second game of the season. That win helped propel the Bulls to the number two spot in the first installment of the BCS.
It was during his time at USF that Leavitt made a name for himself on the national scene as someone who could potentially be the next great hire at a big time program. A hard-nosed defensive mind that is known to get in the faces of his players, Leavitt is a no nonsense individual…what you see is what you get.
Throughout his time in Tampa which spanned from 1997-2009, he compiled a 95-27 record including three, nine win seasons, and a 3-2 bowl record. The star defender in that magical 2007 for the Bulls was George Selvie who tallied 14.5 sacks and 31.5 tackles for loss in Leavitt’s scheme. But the name that Leavitt is most known for producing out of USF is the fifteenth overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft, Super Bowl champion, and three time Pro Bowl selection which starred for him in 2009 – Jason Pierre-Paul.
Leavitt’s dismissal from the program came after an investigation found he struck one of his players in the locker room during a halftime, Leavitt denied the allegations.
University of South Florida v University of Pittsburgh
Head coach Jim Leavitt of the University of South Florida Bulls looks on from the sideline during a game against the University of Pittsburgh Panthers at Heinz Field. Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images
His tenure at USF was followed by an NFL stint under Jim Harbaugh with the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-2014. He coached the linebacker unit throughout the entire Harbaugh era, a group that was regarded as the best in the NFL. Patrick Willis Jersey, Navarro Bowman, Aldon Smith Jersey, and Ahmad Brooks Jersey were some of the notable names he worked with.
Following his time in the NFL, Leavitt spent the 2015 and 2016 seasons as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at the University of Colorado. His expertise saw the Buffaloes defense ascend to new heights in 2016 as he led a unit that finished the regular season eighth in the nation in yards per play (4.69), 17th in the nation in total defense (328.3 ypg), 13th in passing defense (182.5 ypg) and 18th in scoring defense (20.5 ppg).
He is now employed as the defensive coordinator at Florida Atlantic University who is allowing 16.5 points per game.
As someone who has knowledge in both the 3-4 and 4-3 defenses, Leavitt is an aggressive defensive mind that would mesh well with what Manny Diaz wants to accomplish. He likely would also coach the linebacker position, a group that seemed to be out of position at times throughout this season.
Being a former head coach in college and having NFL experience coaching an elite unit, Leavitt would fit nicely on the Hurricanes staff helping Manny Diaz grow as he enters his third season as a first time head coach. His familiarity recruiting the state of Florida is a plus, and who knows if the Harlingen, Texas native has recruiting inroads in his home state where high school football is king. However, it is his approach to the game that Miami is lacking the most.
Leavitt would likely have the Miami Hurricanes defense living in the backfield, and his fiery attitude is something that is sorely lacking on the defensive side of the ball. Fans notice the edge that Rhett Lashlee brings to games and his intensity has helped revamp a Miami offense. One could only imagine that Leavitt’s intensity would find its way on to the field as well.
If current Miami Hurricanes defensive coordinator Blake Baker is given his walking papers, this is the first call Manny Diaz should make. Is there another hashtag in the making?
COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 01 Bowling Green at Oregon
University of Oregon defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt talks with S Ugochukwu Amadi (7) during a break in the action during a game between the Oregon Ducks and Bowling Green Falcons on September 1, 2018, at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon. Photo by Brian Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Jim Leavitt career (head coach unless noted)
1978–1979 Missouri (GA)
1980–1981 Dubuque (DC/LB)
1982 Morningside (ST)
1983–1987 Morningside (DC)
1988 Iowa (intern)
1989 Iowa (GA)
1990–1991 Kansas State (LB)
1992–1995Kansas State (co-DC/LB)
1997–2009 South Florida
2011–2014 San Francisco 49ers (LB)
2015–2016 Colorado (DC/LB)
2017–2018 Oregon (DC/LB)
2019 Florida State (Analyst)
2020–present Florida Atlantic (DC)
Third-and-15. It’s a play forever part of 49ers’ lore, for how a cornerback’s gaffe could snowball into a Super Bowl collapse.
And it could be weighing on the 49ers’ minds as they enter the draft.
Emmanuel Moseley Jersey, despite his blown coverage on a third-and-15 heave, does not alone shoulder the blame for the 49ers’ Super Bowl LIV defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs. So many others factored into it.
On the other side of the 49ers’ defense, Richard Sherman Jersey later allowed a deep completion into the red zone, similar to a catch in the NFC Championship game. Not a great ending to an otherwise All-Pro season from the greatest shutdown corner of his generation.
San Francisco 49ers’ Richard Sherman (25) leaves the field after defeating the Minnesota Vikings during their NFC divisional playoff game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020. The San Francisco 49ers defeated the Minnesota Vikings 27-10. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)
All of which is to say the cornerback position could command the 49ers’ top priority in the draft, where they own first-round picks at Nos. 13 and 31 overall.
Sherman, Moseley, K’Waun Williams and Ahkello Witherspoon Jersey are signed only through the coming season.
Historically, the 49ers have avoided cornerbacks in the first round. That’s for good reason. Some, including Sherman, may cite how the NFL’s pass-happy nature and rules work against cornerbacks.
Some may simply list the 49ers’ most recent first-round cornerbacks: R.W. McQuarters Jersey (1998, 28th overall), Ahmed Plummer Jersey (2000, 24th overall) and Mike Rumph (2002, 27th overall). Jimmie Ward Jersey (2014) arrived as a nickel back but is now their free safety.
1990 FILE PHOTO–Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott Jersey comes down with an interception in this game against the Los Angeles Rams in 1990. (Nick Lammers/Staff) (Nick Lammers/Staff)
Ronnie Lott (1981, No. 8 overall) was a glorious exception, as were 1960s-era cornerbacks Jimmy Johnson Jersey (1961, No. 6) and Kermit Alexander Jersey (1963, No. 8).
Here is what to expect if the 49ers turn their attention to cornerback this draft:
Draft priority: High
Cream of the crop: Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah has the frame (6-foot-1, 205 pounds) the 49ers seek in cornerbacks, and because he has the play-making ability that every team covets, he’ll surely be gone by the 49ers’ top draft slot at No. 13.
“The cornerback position is deep on paper, but there really is only one great corner in this draft, and that’s Jeff Okudah,” draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said last week on ESPN’s First Draft podcast. “Everybody else is questionable. I’m taking the guy who can do it all, hoping he’s Stephon Gilmore, Tre’davious White, Patrick Peterson.”
ANN ARBOR, MI – NOVEMBER 30: Jeff Okudah #1 of the Ohio State Buckeyes celebrates a fourth down strop during the fourth quarter of the game against the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium on November 30, 2019 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Ohio State defeated Michigan 56-27. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) Getty Images
Or is C.J. tops?: Florida’s C.J. Henderson has the size (6-1, 204) and speed (4.39-second 40-yard dash) that is extremely appealing. Henderson ranks himself as the draft’s top corner, saying at the combine: “What separates me is that I’m a competitor and I’m very smart. … I have a passion for the game, and I’m a good tackler as well. That’s not being said a lot.”
Time for Dantzler: Mississippi State’s Cam Dantzler (6-2, 188) posted a video last week of him running the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds. That’s not only blazing fast, that is in stark contrast to the 4.64 he posted at the scouting combine. Speaking of videos, Dantzler said last week he’s already had virtual interviews with 16 teams, including the 49ers.
The other Buckeye: Damon Arnette (6-0, 195) returned for a fifth year to Ohio State at the urging of alumnus Cris Carter. Not only did Arnette play opposite the more heralded Okudah, he matured with the help of Buckeyes assistant Jeff Hafley, formerly of the 49ers. “He’s helped me become a smarter football player, a better football player, a better man,” Arnette said.
Tigers’ king: Kristian Fulton (6-0, 197) overcame a 2017 suspension as LSU built itself into a national champion this past season. He had only two career interceptions, and “not many” off Joe Burrow in practice. “Joe did not throw my way,” Fulton said at the combine. “… Joe’s smart with the ball. He knows what to do and where to go.”