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Leavitt fires offensive coordinator Gregory

Posted Jan 17, 2009 by Brett McMurphy

Updated Jan 18, 2009 at 12:39 AM

Two years after promoting Greg Gregory to offensive coordinator, University of South Florida coach Jim Leavitt fired Gregory Saturday night.

Gregory was fired less than two hours after Gregory and the Bulls’ coaching staff had dinner with about a dozen recruits making their official visits to USF. Gregory is the first assistant Leavitt has fired in 12 seasons at USF.

A 28-year coaching veteran, including 16 years as a head coach or offensive coordinator, Gregory was hired as USF’s tight ends coach in 2005. He replaced Rod Smith, who left for West Virginia.

Gregory, 50, had no comment when contacted Saturday night. He was only the fourth offensive coordinator in program history.

In Gregory’s first year as USF’s offensive coordinator in 2007, the Bulls set nine school records, including yards per game (414.1).

With 10 returning offensive starters in 2008, USF’s yards per game dipped slightly to 405. USF’s scoring also decreased from 34.7 points to 27.6 in 2008 – in part because the defense had five fewer touchdowns and forced 14 fewer turnovers than 2007.

USF wide receivers coach Mike Canales, who was USF’s first offensive coordinator from 1996-2000, is the favorite to replace Gregory. Canales returned to USF in 2007 after a three-year stint as offensive coordinator at the University of Arizona.

In an interview with the Tampa Tribune with three regular season games remaining this season, Gregory said the offense wasn’t “playing as well [as 2007]. Mistakes are what’s keeping us from scoring.”

Leavitt did not return calls seeking comment.

In a statement, Leavitt said: “Greg is an outstanding coach and I appreciate everything he has done for us. It is time for our program to move in another direction.”

So, now that Gregory is gone, who would you want as USF’s next offensive coordinator?

Reader Comments

Por (Mike Lakeland) on January 17, 2009 (Suggest removal)

YES!  Maybe we can win the Big East!!!

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Por (Allen Brown) on January 17, 2009 (Suggest removal)

Is this the first coach Leavitt has fired?

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Por (Jon McKee) on January 18, 2009 (Suggest removal)

Something in the water in Tampa this weekend?

Canales should do good.  Maybe Leavitt is thinkin’ Gruden, now that he is available. Ha Ha Ha.

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Por (Terry Lucas) on January 18, 2009 (Suggest removal)

What most fans don’t realize is that it takes a special individual to have the ability to work along side Coach Leavitt. He is extremely demanding… I hope we find a diamond in the rough outside the program or we give Chico the reigns and let him and Grothe bring back the Blackwell magic of old. Blackwell and Chico had a connection. Maybe it’s Chico’s personality… but players want to play for him.

Best wishes Coach Gregory. If a couple more plays had gone our way this season, no doubt you would still be here.

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Por (Allen Brown) on January 18, 2009 (Suggest removal)

A little more than a couple plays.  2007, I’ll buy a couple plays, maybe as few as 3 to win 3 more games.  2008?  Not quite.

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Por (Hector Jimenez) on January 18, 2009 (Suggest removal)

Brett….I know this is going to sound crazy but could Jags from BC be a candidate.  I know it would be MUCH less than what he is used to making but it would let him get back into fball and he knows offenses and the NE.  What do you think, possible or am I out of my mind?


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Por (Paul S) on January 18, 2009 (Suggest removal)

Canales, unless there is a clear winner available elsewhere.  Players seem to respond more to Canales, and he’s seems more energetic & disciplined.  If not Canales, he may leave or disengage…both may be bad.

I question the timing.  Will recruits on the fence go elsewhere (see UM’s top recruit wavering, after they dumped the OC).

Thanks to Gregory (father & son) for the good year, and best wishes in the future.

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Por (Ryan) on January 18, 2009 (Suggest removal)

It is about time.  Gregory’s playbook was very limited. This should have happened last season!

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Por (Paul S) on January 18, 2009 (Suggest removal)

Just saw this on  Boston College’s OC just quit, since the head coach got canned for interviewing for the Jets job, and the DC got the HC job.  Maybe Tampa would be appealing…unless he’s hoping to be a HC soon, which may not happen if Leavitt stays for another 20 years (who knows?).

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Por (Hector Jimenez) on January 18, 2009 (Suggest removal)

Brett…how about (back to BC) Logan or Nix from UM (maybe that brings Marve to USF)?

Thanks again.

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Por (Don G) on January 18, 2009 (Suggest removal)

I can’t come up with a specific name - other than Canales possibly - but I have two things I’d like to see in a new OC: 1) someone who can establish an offense that can consistently sustain long drives to give Bulls’ defense some rest and 2) an OC that can read defenses inside the red zone where more TDs than FGs are scored.  If that happens, then all of us will be statisfied, I believe?

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Por (jdc) on January 18, 2009 (Suggest removal)

Pat Nix isn’t a bad suggestion, but here’s a better one: Kerwin Bell who’s @ Jacksonville U.  it could also set up a succession plan. Nothing against Canales, i would like to see an outside, experienced name.

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Por (Carl) on January 18, 2009 (Suggest removal)

My gut tells me the OC will be Canales.  Don’t know if K. Bell would even consider the OC job.  He has done well in Jax, but much less pressure.  I do know that he is also very demanding, and knows how to coach up the offense. It would be unfair to Grothe to change the offense very much, seeing how he is the guy that took USF this far.

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Por (Dan) on January 18, 2009 (Suggest removal)

Long time coming, & just as bad to hear that Leavitt has never fired anybody before. We do lose coaches, but I think we mostly lose them to promotions or to better teams. We need to develop a coaching bench just as we develop a players bench, and not be picking up whoever’s available after we get jilted. This late into the offseason, it must mean Leavitt already has a successor in mind, but for Grothe’s sake it needs to be an internal guy or his senior year will be tough. I think GG may have been a good coach but not the right fit here, but I will not rule out that he was a bad coach. Here’s hoping for Canales and success, because we were going to lose Canales soon, the way he was interviewing for every job in sight.

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Por (Patrick O'Rourke) on January 18, 2009 (Suggest removal)


(sing it with me)



(and so on)

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Por (Gary S.) on January 18, 2009 (Suggest removal)

All I know is, the Bulls online community whined as much about Mike Canales’ playcalling when he was OC as they did about Greg Gregory. And Rod Smith too, come to think of it. Hey, I think I’m detecting a pattern…

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Por (Steve Stacy) on January 19, 2009 (Suggest removal)

It’s not cool to be happy when a man loses his job…but I’m happy.  I was one of the many who called for his head after the season.

I’m divided about to the Canales selection.  On the one hand, I want a completely fresh face with a fresh outlook (especially in designing a traditional running game with a traditional featured back).  On the other hand, I want to maximize Grothe’s potential in his Sr year, and I’m not sure a sea change would do that.

Anyway, it sucks for Gregory…but I am pleased CJL pulled the trigger.

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Por (BgTMlike) on January 19, 2009 (Suggest removal)

Brett, What are the chances of bringing in Blackwell, Hearn or Verpeale?  What do you think?

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Por (Ryan) on January 19, 2009 (Suggest removal)

UGH! All are horrible choices.  None have experience as being an OC and if we are going to be considered as a big football program you need experienced coaches, not former players or coaches who have not coached for a major program.

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Por (Steve O'Neal) on January 19, 2009 (Suggest removal)

I’ll agree with Ryan. Those three are good guys and maybe someday worthy of this type of position. Just not yet.

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Por (Brett McMurphy) on January 20, 2009 (Suggest removal)

BgTMike, none of those guys would be considered for the offensive coordinator position. I think Hearn would be a very real possibility as WRs coach if Canales became offensive coordinator. He’s been at The Citadel the past four years as recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach and played WR at USF.

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Por (steve) on January 22, 2009 (Suggest removal)

lets go into a pro offense..isn’t that the training they need…lets get someone who can light up the OFFENSIVE LINE if you want to see points on the board… recruit a let go pro coordinator

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