Coaching Candidates - Jim Leavitt

I thought I'd take a look at possible coaching candidates for K-State once Bill Snyder retires.  Jim Leavitt has been mentioned over and over by a lot of people as a potential candidate.  He has a clause in his contract at Oregon that he can leave for the head coaching job at K-State with no penalty.  That caused the rumor mill to swirl a couple years ago, but nothing has ever come of it because Snyder has stayed on as coach.  Let's take a closer look at some of Jim Leavitt's numbers.

I have a fond memory of Jim Leavitt when he was the head coach at South Florida, building that program from scratch and rising to be ranked as the number two team in the country during the 2007 season.  I took a look at his overall coaching record and realized that it's not as great as I remembered it to be.

His overall head coaching record is 95-57, which isn't too bad.  However, he has never had less than three losses in a season and once he got South Florida into the Big East conference the best he ever did in that conference was 4-3 and a 3rd place finish.  Again, not bad. But not stellar, either.

Once he got fired at South Florida for striking a player during halftime of a game, he was hired as linebacker coach of the San Francisco 49ers for a couple years before ending up as defensive coordinator at Colorado in 2015 and 2016.   In December of 2016 he was hired as defensive coordinator at Oregon and he has been there ever since.  How did his defenses rank in total defense during those two stops?  Let's take a look:

In 2015, Colorado ranked number 87 in defense in yards given up per game and 71st in scoring defense.  As a comparison, K-State was ranked number 97 in total defense and 90th in scoring defense that year.

In 2016, Colorado ranked number 17 in yards per game and number 15 in scoring defense, a vast improvement over his first season as defensive coordinator.  K-State was ranked number 51 in yards per game and number 20 in points per game that season. 

In 2017, Leavitt's first season at Oregon, their defense ranked 41st in yards given up per game and 77th in points given up per game.  K-State's defense ranked 98th in yards per game and 59th in points per game.

So far in 2018, Oregon's defense ranks 58th in yards given up per game and 74th in points given up per game.  K-State ranks 107 in yards per game and 72nd in points per game.

Oregon's defense hasn't seen the improvement in year two that his defense at Colorado did.  It's about the same as last year, and maybe even a little bit worse.

After looking at these numbers, I'm not sure Leavitt is the no-brainer hire than I once thought he was.  And I'm not sure he has the recruiting connections that he once had.

Another interesting tidbit from those numbers is that Tom Hayes' defense was performing better last year than this year's defense under Blake Seiler.

I'll take a look at some other candidates this week.  Brent Venables is obviously another name that comes up a lot as well, so I'll probably post about him next.


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