The "Jim Leavitt Choked a Player" Story Will Not Go Away

We have seen Mike Leach and Mark Mangino felled by concerns over improper disciplinary actions this season. But Jim Leavitt, accused of a harsher crime than either fired coach, is still USF's head coach, thanks to some convenient changes in the narrative by the player Leavitt allegedly choked, Joel Miller, and his father.

Unfortunately for Leavitt, though, he has far less leverage over former players. And that's why what former USF receiver Colby Erskin told FanHouse may tip the scales on the coach.

⇥"Joel told me that coach Leavitt was in his face and yelling at him for getting a penalty on a special teams play," Erskin said. "He said that Coach asked him a question about the play and Joel said he was hesitant to answer. Coach asked him the question a second time and Joel still didn't answer, so Leavitt grabbed him with one hand around Joel's neck and he slapped him twice with the other."⇥

⇥Erskin said Miller also told him when Miller went to Leavitt's office to discuss the incident on Nov. 23 that Leavitt told Miller "before you say anything, just know I am the most powerful man in the building."⇥

Now, Erskin wasn't in the locker room, and is only reporting what Miller told him -- this is the textbook definition of hearsay -- and he only talked to the investigator in this case upon learning that his personal effects were emptied out of his locker and into a trash can. Like everyone else in this case, Erskin likely has more motive than seeing justice be done.

But all the sources of the previous FanHouse report were anonymous. Erskin, now a graduate of the university and therefore freed from the fear of a revoked scholarship, gives this story a little more credence by virtue of his name alone.

Where the truth actually lies is unclear, and unlikely to come out either quickly or cleanly. Phrases like "vindictive teenager" (directed at Leavitt by Erskin's father) and "I am the most powerful man in the building" don't usually lead to tidy resolutions.

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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