Tuesday, October 23, 2007

No Jim Leavitt. Most anticipated Tuesday press conference of the year is ruined.

There was a little extra jump in my step this morning as I made the long drive from New Haven to Storrs for the weekly Tuesday media luncheon. In fact, I had circled this Tuesday on the calendar months ago. The reason for the excitement? Do you need to even ask? Part of the luncheon would include a teleconference with South Florida coach Jim Leavitt, the man who almost single-handedly made blogging enjoyable for me here at the New Haven Register.

Leavitt, however unintentionally, has become my favorite interview subject simply because he has taken the press conference to uncharted levels of dullness. He's beyond Bill Belichick boring. He's Mr. Vargas from Fast Times at Ridgemont High and the economics teacher in Ferris Bueller's Day Off rolled into one (with a green South Florida visor permanently attached to his head). But in that dullness, he provides endless opportunities for (mostly bad) jokes for yours truly. I spent most of the 90 minutes driving up this morning thinking up new material for Leavitt. After all, I recently found out Leavitt was a member of Pi Lambda Theta at the University of Missouri and was doing work toward his Ph. D in psychology when he decided to coach full time.

Then, I arrived at the Shenkman Center to the horrifying news that Jim Leavitt turned down the request to be interviewed by the Connecticut media today. A couple of my colleagues jokingly blamed me and the Runway blog as the reason why. Needless to say, I was disappointed.

Still trying to get over it, I'll move on to the news and notes of the day.
  • Not a real surprise, but Andre Dixon has officially supplanted Donald Brown as the starting tailback. Dixon's been great, and handled most of the carries the last couple of weeks. Brown, even before his injury, just wasn't running the same as last season. "I just want Donald to settle down," Randy Edsall said. "What I mean by that is I think there might have been too much pressure he put on himself because of the expectations others had set for him coming into this season based on the success he had a year ago. And again, I firmly believe this, I think he's been pressing way too much. I think he's over thought and over analyzed things. He needs to get back to being Donald Brown. Being that guy who plays with a chip on his shoulder like he did a year ago, and not worrying what expectations he should have other than the expectations we have for him here within the program and the expectations he has for himself. He'll be fine. I saw things when we practiced Sunday that made me feel good. I think he's turned the page."

  • Lawrence Green is back atop the depth chart (or at least tied with Alex LaMagdelaine) at left guard just over six weeks after tearing the MCL and PCL in his left knee. No surgery, just extended rehab and a reinforced knee brace. Green says he's between 90 and 100 percent, and feeling strong. Any doubts? He did a nice job filling in when Donald Thomas went out for a few plays with an injury, and was one of the guys who helped propel Andre Dixon across the goal line for the winning TD against Louisville on Friday.

  • Edsall mentioned how when USF was admitted to the Big East a few years back, he said he felt the school would be the one to rise to prominence quickly because of its location in the heart of the talent-laden Florida high school football scene. "He's in a fertile recruiting area, which we're not," Edsall said. "They have a lot more players to choose from in a condensed area in-state. They have a lot of talent to recruit from, and they've capitalized on that to get very good football players and done a good job of coaching them up."

  • Asked about the now infamous fair catch, Edsall channeled his inner Mark McGwire and said there would be no comments on anything other than the South Florida game. I like it. In fact, it's now my new policy. Don't like something I write? Sorry. I don't want to talk about the past. I'm only focused on my next story.

  • Wonder if Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen has any regrets about Scott Lutrus yet. The Terps had multiple chances to get Lutrus, who had only UConn and Ivy League schools interested while he was starring at running back and linebacker in high school. One of Lutrus' coaches at Brookfield High played with Friedgen at Maryland and sent him game film during his junior season. "They said 'I don't think so'," Lutrus said. "They sent film again my senor year, they said 'we'll think about it'. When they found out I got an offer from UConn they said 'don't wait. you have the offer, you have the chance, take it.'" Lutrus, coming off an 18-tackle game, is looking more and more like one of the special ones. Too bad for Friedgen.

  • Dan Davis said the Huskies had literally no reaction when informed they had cracked the BCS standings at No. 23 on Sunday. "Everyone was kind of like 'Oh'," Davis said. "I think it was Lindsey Witten that said it doesn't matter because they only take the top 8 for the big bowl games anyway." Davis said the team isn't content, and focused on playing the rest of the season before worrying about the bowl scenarios and potential.

  • Rob Lunn had not one, not two, but three Red Sox caps with him today for his WTIC-1080 pregame radio interview with noted Yankees fan Joe D'Ambrosio. He unsuccessfully tried to get Joe D to wear one for the interview. It should be noted that Lunn is a Red Sox fan from New York, a fact not lost on myself or Joe D and a reliable source for breaking Lunn's chops. Lunn justifies it because he's from upstate. I say that only means he should be rooting for the Blue Jays. And yes, I'm still bitter about the Yankees latest early postseason exit.

A few tidbits from the South Florida media guide....

  • Quarterback Matt Grothe is an avid outdoorsman. His personal bio reads, "He enjoys both hunting and fishing." Whoa. Hunting AND fishing? Did someone alert the Discovery Channel?

  • Among those listed in the section titled "Prominent USF Grads" are Mark Consuelos (better known as Mr. Kelly Ripa) and Tony La Russa (whose name is spelled incorrectly in the guide). That's respectable. Also listed... comedian Gallagher (somethings are better kept unpublicized). But here's the kicker. Melissa Howard, a former cast member for MTVs "The Real World". The Real World? Seriously? Guess there weren't any "The Price is Right"contestants or "American Idol" rejects to choose from.

I'm done. For now.


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