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Two top offensive assistants leave USF

USF's success on the football field is costing Jim Leavitt more of his top assistants.

By GREG AUMAN
Published January 23, 2007


TAMPA - USF's success on the football field is costing Jim Leavitt more of his top assistants.

Big East rival West Virginia plucked the two most tenured assistants off the Bulls' offensive staff Monday, and coach Leavitt, having lost four of his nine assistants in the past month, announced two promotions to continue an offseason shake-up of his staff.

Tight ends coach Greg Gregory has been promoted to offensive coordinator, replacing Rod Smith, who will be reunited with mentor Rich Rodriguez in his native West Virginia. And Leavitt promoted graduate assistant Mike Simmonds, a former Bucs offensive lineman, to replace offensive line coach Greg Frey, who takes the same job in Morgantown.

"It happens with success," Leavitt said.

Gregory, whose son Grant will likely be Matt Grothe's top backup at quarterback, has 13 years' experience as an offensive coordinator, nine at Army.

Simmonds, who spent four seasons as an offensive lineman in the NFL, coached eight years at Jefferson High before joining Leavitt's staff as a defensive graduate assistant last spring.

"My whole life, I've been an offensive lineman, so I'm elated to be on the offensive side again," Simmonds said.

Smith had been at USF six seasons, the past two as offensive coordinator, a title he's likely shedding to rejoin Rodriguez, whom he played under at Glenville State and coached under at two schools before coming to USF.

"I had no doubt Rod would go back someday," Leavitt said. "You kind of wonder why a guy would leave a coordinator job, but the relationship they have is strong. And I can't get in the way of his family. It's a chance to go home."

Frey was the last remaining assistant from USF's original staff in 1996, a Clearwater native who played at Florida State. He coached USF's offensive line for the past seven seasons.

Leavitt said he'd told Smith and Frey he'd match the offers. Smith was making $106,000, Frey $95,000.

Leavitt has seen six assistant coaches leave in the past 13 months, all but one to other BCS-conference schools, though none have taken promotions to coordinator jobs.

Another graduate assistant, former USF lineman Larry Scott, is a "strong candidate" to be promoted full time to tight ends coach, said Leavitt, who does not expect the comings and goings to have a negative impact on USF's recruiting, with signing day just two weeks away.

"I hope recruits see this is something happening all over college football," Leavitt said. "The one thing they can count is Jim Leavitt's not leaving South Florida. I know you hear that from a lot of coaches, but I mean it when I say that."

Gators land a top DE

BOWMAN, S.C. - One of South Carolina's highest-rated recruits committed to Florida.

Fort Dorchester High defensive end Carlos Dunlap disappointed nearly 6,000 South Carolina fans logged into Gamecock Central to find out his decision.

Dunlap, 6 feet 6 and 240 pounds, runs the 40 in 4.6 and returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown this season.

Softball

ACE COMMITS TO USF: Coach Ken Eriksen has landed another potential ace, getting an oral commitment this past weekend from Candace Howell, a junior who led Bartow High to a state championship last spring. As a sophomore, Howell was one of six finalists for the state's Miss Softball award after going 25-1 with a 0.44 ERA and 209 strikeouts. A first-team All-State selection, she committed after an unofficial campus visit Friday. "The atmosphere of the place was something I really liked," she said.

Information from Times wires was used in this report. Greg Auman can be reached at auman@sptimes.com or 813 226-3346.