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Gregory: “Once I wasn’t [OC] I started looking around”

Posted Feb 12, 2009 by Brett McMurphy

Updated Feb 12, 2009 at 05:58 PM

Greg Gregory said once he was demoted from his offensive coordinator position at the University of South Florida, he decided he needed to coach elsewhere this fall.

On Thursday, Gregory left USF and was named offensive coordinator at the University of South Alabama. The Jaguars play their inaugural season this fall and will become full-fledged Division I-A Sun Belt members in 2013.

Last month Gregory was demoted by USF coach Jim Leavitt when Gregory told Leavitt he was interviewing for the tight ends position at the University of Florida.

“Once I was no longer the coordinator, I had a strong desire to continue to be a coordinator,” Gregory said. “Once I wasn’t [a coordinator] I starting looking around. I think this is a great opportunity at South Alabama.

“One thing I realized last week [at USF], when we started meeting as a staff, it was an awkward position as an entire staff. I understood at that point, that it would be best for all parties if I could move on. In my own mind, if an opportunity came I was going to move.”

Gregory said he had been reassigned by Leavitt to coach the tight ends. Larry Scott, who was tight ends coach last year, was moved to the offensive line with Mike Simmonds as co-offensive line coaches.

Gregory said wide receivers coach Mike Canales assumed the role as offensive coordinator in the team’s meetings, but Leavitt has not made an official announcement on whether Canales will replace Gregory as offensive coordinator. With Gregory’s departure, it’s likely that Scott will return to coaching tight ends and Simmonds will handle all of the offensive line duties.

Although it ultimately led to him leaving USF, Gregory said he did not regret interviewing at Florida.

“I took the chance to go to [interview at the] University of Florida, the national champions,” Gregory said. “That didn’t mean I didn’t want to be at USF. I was encouraged to [interview] by their offensive coordinator and I took that chance.

“I understand what [Leavitt] did, but I was willing to live with it. After a couple of weeks, though, it was an uncomfortable position for everyone.”

Gregory came to USF in 2005 as tight ends coach and was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2007. That season, the Bulls set nine offensive school records, including yards per game (414.1).

Even without any first-team All-Big East offensive players in Gregory’s two seasons, the Bulls still averaged more than 400 yards of offense in consecutive seasons for the first time in school history.

“I was a little disappointed this year,” Gregory said. “We were not moving the ball [as well as 2007], we didn’t finish some things. We didn’t finish off drives, especially in Big East games. The biggest difference from our team the last two years, other than the Oregon game, was we were able to move the ball against everyone we played and put ourselves in a position to win the game.

“My first two years here [in 2005-06 when Rod Smith was coordinator] we had games where we were shut down cold, where we couldn’t move the ball. We were not moving the ball a lick. We had no chance.

“The one thing we’ve shown [the past two years] is we found a way to move the ball in every game and give ourselves an opportunity to win games.”

Gregory said the Bulls, who finished 2-5 in the Big East, did not meet their expectations in 2008.

“This past year, we did not live up to our expectations,” Gregory said. “I don’t think any of us as coaches, offensive or defensive, think we did. There are a lot of reasons behind that.

“The bottom line is you are what you are. Realistically we were an 8-5 football team. We didn’t play at a high enough level or coach at a high enough level across the board. That’s why we ended up 8-5.”

Gregory, 51, is a 28-year coaching veteran, including 16 years as a head coach or offensive coordinator. He said he enjoyed his time at USF.

“I had four great years here,” Gregory said. “I appreciate the opportunity Coach Leavitt gave me. The only thing I’m disappointed in is that we haven’t been able to win a Big East title yet.”

Reader Comments

Por (Terry Lucas) on February 12, 2009 (Suggest removal)

Who gives a flying f*** if they are national champions. Your goal as an OC is to get our program to that point. Gregory’s comments upset me deeply and I’m sure they upset other current and former players on the team who realize how close we are to that next level.

We were #2 in the nation less than two years ago. You can’t dispute that fact. Like any program, a couple calls go our way, and we could have been playing for a title (like I said, like any program). Gregory may have given everything he has to the program, but he shorted the program most when he took on that interview. Thanks for a great 2007 season coach and for bringing your son along for the ride (who played excellent in his role and was a warrior on the field).

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Por (Growler Bull) on February 12, 2009 (Suggest removal)

Classier comments than I expected, considering the situation. CJL should have handled it better but I Gregory could have done things differently as well. That is, don’t tell your boss you are looking for “better” jobs.

One note about all the records Gregory’s offensive squad set….so what? The offense by design is supposed to move the ball. He had better stats than Rod Smith, but Greogry also had better talent….or at the very least a REAL QB, a luxury Smith never had. Gregory ‘s offenses was very often feast or famine. Good OCs move the ball on everyone, and not just pile on the stats on OOC opponents. In the end, BigEast teams had figured out our playcalling, and USF never reacted.

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Por (USF95) on February 12, 2009 (Suggest removal)

Will people get the story straight.  Gregory was getting demoted regardless of him interviewing with UF.  Why is that continually left out.  Leavitt made that comment that he told Gregory after the bowl game that he was considering making a change.  That’s like your boss coming in and saying I am considering demoting or firing you.  What are you going to do?  I would start interviewing for other jobs ASAP.  Once he did that Leavitt couldn’t wait till after national signing day for the announcement like he wanted.  This was included in the original articles and keeps getting left out now.

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Por (Patrick O'Rourke) on February 13, 2009 (Suggest removal)

This is great news for USF.

And Leavitt’s perfect record of NEVER FIRING AN ASSISTANT is still intact.  He still has a lot to prove as a BCS head football coach.

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Por (jack) on February 14, 2009 (Suggest removal)

I find it interesting that Brett was roasting our Offence for playing so bad during the big east schedule which I aggreed with but now that they go in a different direction its gregory thats the victim here and brett puts up all the stats that support his point. Your hatred for CJL is really evident.

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Por (Patrick O'Rourke) on February 15, 2009 (Suggest removal)

And your hatred for Brett is really evident.

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Por (Don G) on February 15, 2009 (Suggest removal)

Jack, I prefer that Brett provide stats that Gregory’s offenses in 2007 & ‘08 produced over 400 yds per game. If someone is leaving or fired, it’s not bad to at least recognize his accomplishments while he was there. That stat is significant, and needs to be known and used as a metric with the new OC. Without those stats, and next year’s OC produces only 375ypg, then how would we know if that’s good average or going in reverse? Thanks for the info, Brett.

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Por (Brett McMurphy) on February 15, 2009 (Suggest removal)

USF95, you don’t have the story straight - Gregory was NOT demoted until after he interviewed with Florida. If he had not interviewed with Florida, he still would have been offensive coordinator (at least that’s what Leavitt told him). Leavitt told him he was considering making a change, before the national coaches convention. If no change was made by then (I think this was in early January), then there would be no change. Gregory was not informed of any changes before or after the coaches convention. He was only told of the change a week after he interviewed at Florida.

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Por (Brett McMurphy) on February 15, 2009 (Suggest removal)

Jack, I wrote about the drop off in USF’s offensive and defensive stats in Big East play before the bowl game, compared with their non-conference stats. In the stories on Gregory’s demotion, I listed what he accomplished in the 2007 and 2008 seasons overall. I also quoted Gregory about his disappointment in how the offense failed to finish drives in Big East play. Also, Leavitt never said Gregory was demoted for any lack of success/performance by the offense, but only because he interviewed for another job.

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Por (Don G) on February 16, 2009 (Suggest removal)


Any word from CJL on him making an “official” announcement on his OC?  Seems to me that it’s a little odd that it’s just a few weeks away from spring training and no official word has been decided (or just known to us). Hopefully next OC can do three things that were missing from this past year: 1) make necessary changes during game to counter defensive changes, 2) have the ability to control and move the ball on long drives without need for Grothe to come up with big plays and 3) have the ability to score TDs when in the red zone.  If all of the above happens, then the 400+ ypg will happen as a result.

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Por (Brett McMurphy) on February 16, 2009 (Suggest removal)

Don, no official word on when Canales will be officially named OC.

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Por (Patrick O'Rourke) on February 16, 2009 (Suggest removal)

If / when Leavitt makes the announcement about Canales, that will be “the straw that breaks the camel’s back” for me as far as Leavitt is concerned.  I’ll always support my Alma Mater, but my support for Leavitt is another matter entirely.

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Por (Patrick O'Rourke) on February 16, 2009 (Suggest removal)

The imminent hiring of Canales as the next O.C. is just further proof of Leavitt’s incredible level of obsession for staying “inside the program.”  It’s almost clinical at this point - bordering on a psychological condition.

This reminds me of inbreeding.  The dysfunction that results just mounts the longer it continues.

Leavitt is clearly equally interested in taking care of his closest buddies as he is in winning Big East football games.  He’s very well aware that he’s got immunity here for a while since he “built the program,” so he’s going to make sure his favorite people have jobs - regardless of how that impacts the conference record.  And if we can win two or three B.E. games per season, hey—ICING ON THE CAKE!!

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Por (jack) on February 17, 2009 (Suggest removal)

please Patrick o’whatever name you made up i dont hate Brett just biased information. I know you love it everytime anything negative gets posted regarding CJL All Im asking for is neutral reporting By the way did you notice another gator player arrest Hidden in the todays briefs section guess where that story would have been if it was a current or former usf player?

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