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Who's next: Candidates to replace Leavitt

The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: July 11, 2013 at 02:42 PM

Set to embark on a "swift" national search for its next football coach, the University of South Florida won't have to look too hard for intriguing prospects.

Former Auburn coaches Tommy Tuberville and Terry Bowden, former Clemson coach Tommy Bowden and East Carolina coach Skip Holtz were among the potential candidates mentioned Friday in the hours after Jim Leavitt's firing.

Southern Mississippi coach Larry Fedora and prominent assistants Dan McCarney of Florida, Calvin Magee of Michigan and Rich Bisaccia of the Bucs are also considered possibilities, as is ex-Boston College coach Jeff Jagodzinski.

Other names undoubtedly will surface.

While Leavitt's staff was retained for the time being, interim coach Carl Franks and offensive coordinator Mike Canales are regarded as long shots for the head coaching job.

And since assistant director of athletics Chris Freet said the next coach will be free to name his own staff, most if not all of Leavitt's assistants could find themselves out of work.

USF wasn't in position to attract interest from proven head coaches 14 years ago when it hired its first coach, but now, in large part because of Leavitt's work in building the program, the job is appealing.

"It's a prime situation," said Rivals.com's Jeremy Crabtree. "Coach Leavitt built it from the ground up and made upgrades along the way. It's a fertile recruiting territory. ... It would not shock me to see coaches fighting over this position."

The most interesting name floated Friday was that of Tuberville, 55, who was national Coach of the Year at Auburn after a 13-0 season. He has expressed interest in the vacant Texas Tech job, and neither he nor his agent, Jimmy Sexton, returned phone calls.

Tuberville resigned after a 5-7 season in 2008, but before that he had eight consecutive bowl seasons, including an 11-2 campaign in 2006. At one point, the Tigers had beaten rival Alabama seven out of eight times.

Well established in Florida, Tuberville and won three national titles as an assistant at Miami under coaches Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson. He was 25-20 at Ole Miss and had a 10-0-1 season as defensive coordinator at Texas A&M.

Despite an awkward departure from Auburn and some complaints that while he was a stellar big-game coach he sometimes lost to lesser teams, Tuberville was respected at Auburn, according to Opelika-Auburn News sports editor Mike Szvetitz.

"He would be a good fit at USF," Szvetitz suggested. "He's probably the opposite of Coach Leavitt in that he isn't hands-on with the X's and O's, but he's comfortable dealing with the media and the boosters."

Neither Tommy Bowden, who was fired at Clemson halfway through the 2008 season despite a 72-45 record, nor Terry Bowden, who was fired by Auburn in 1998 with a 47-17-1 record, returned phone calls.

Terry Bowden guided Division II North Alabama to an 11-2 record this season and is under contract, so USF would need permission to talk to him. Holtz, also the son of a famous coach, is under contract at East Carolina.

USF doesn't have a specific timetable for naming a coach, but because of recruiting implications, the school will almost surely try to move quickly.

"From a recruiting standpoint, the timing of this couldn't be any worse," Rivals.com's Crabtree said. "We're halfway through the vital official visit period. Kids are starting to make up their minds, if they haven't already.

"USF might be into the third week of January without a head coach, and National Signing Day is right around the corner. The timing of this is rough."

Some possibilities to become the second head coach in program history:

Rich Bisaccia

•Age: 49

•Bio: Highly regarded Bucs associate head coach/special teams coach. ... Career assistant with several collegiate stops. ... Reportedly has an offer to coach under Lane Kiffin at Tennessee.

Terry Bowden

•Age: 53

•Bio: Bobby Bowden's middle son. ... Former Auburn coach (47-17-1 from 1993-1998, but resigned under pressure in '98) and TV analyst is currently North Alabama's coach. ... Coached the Division II Lions to a 11-2 record this year. ... Is a former Florida State offensive coordinator.

Tommy Bowden

•Age: 55

•Bio: Oldest of Bobby Bowden's three sons. ... Was fired as Clemson coach six games into the 2008 season with a 72-45 record and eight bowl appearances. ... Had an undefeated season as Tulane coach in 1998.

Mike Canales

•Age: 48

•Bio: Long-shot candidate. ... USF offensive coordinator and QB coach. ... In first stint at USF, developed successful QB Marquel Blackwell. ... Coached current Chargers QB Philip Rivers at N.C. State.

Larry Fedora

•Age: 47

•Bio: Is 14-12 the past two years as Southern Mississippi's head coach. ... Was offensive coordinator at Florida under Ron Zook in 2004. ... Respected offensive strategist.

Carl Franks

•Age: 49

•Bio: USF running backs coach and recruiting coordinator. ... Coached under Steve Spurrier at Florida and with the USFL's Tampa Bay Bandits. ... Went 7-45 as Duke's head coach from 1999-2003. ... Lauded for the academic success of Duke players.

Skip Holtz

•Age: 45

•Bio: East Carolina coach and son of former Notre Dame and South Carolina coach Lou Holtz. ... Former Notre Dame offensive coordinator and UConn head coach. ... Is 38-27 with four bowl appearances at East Carolina.

Dan McCarney

•Age: 56

•Bio: Former USF and current Florida defensive line coach. ... Was Iowa State head coach from 1995-2006 and led Cyclones to five bowls, more than any coach in school history.

Calvin Magee

•Age: 46

•Bio: Assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at Michigan. ... Played tight end for Bucs from 1985-88. ... Assistant at USF from 1995-2001 before joining Rich Rodriguez at West Virginia.

Tommy Tuberville

•Age: 55

•Bio: Resigned at Auburn after 2008 season despite a 10-year record of 110-60. ... National Coach of the Year in 2004 after guiding Tigers to a 13-0 record. ... Won three national championships while an assistant coach at Miami from 1986-93. ... Was 10-0-1 as defensive coordinator at Texas A&M in 1994 and SEC Coach of the Year at Ole Miss in 1997.

Doug Williams

•Age: 54

•Bio: Former Bucs and Redskins Super Bowl-winning QB and current Bucs coordinator of pro scouting ... Succeeded legendary coach Eddie Robinson at Grambling and led the Tigers to three conference titles from 2000-02.

Compiled by Tony Fabrizio

Who else should be on the list? Use the comment area below to suggest your candidates.

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