Monday, January 11, 2010

USF Head Coaching Speculation: Tony Dungy?

The biggest storylines so far this college football offseason have involved head coaches. Urban Meyer, Mike Leach, Mark Mangino and of course, Jim Leavitt.

Monday, Leavitt held a press conference with his lawyers, saying that he will fight his firing and try to reclaim his job. I find it very doubtful that this actually works out in Leavitt's favor, especially considering the list of player-witnesses that corroborate the story against him.

Instead, Leavitt, who built the USF football program from the ground up and turned it into what it is today, will be forced to move on. So too, will South Florida.

But just where do the Bulls go from here? They are a young program, in the heart of one of -- if not THE -- richest states, talent-wise.

Today, ESPN's Joe Schad reported that Tony Dungy was at USF on Monday to talk to the players, and the athletic director. Could Dungy be on USF's wishlist for a new head coach? Possibly. Will it actually happen? Unlikely.

Dungy makes perfect sense for USF. He already has ties to the area, and his family lives in the area as well. The job would give him the opportunity to influence young minds -- and help mentor them, in a way similar to what he has done for Michael Vick. And his name would do wonders for the program in terms of recruiting.

But does a return to coaching necessarily make sense for Dungy? When he retired as the coach of the Colts, he said he was ready to become a full-time dad and community volunteer. A return to coaching would take that away from Dungy -- the immense number of hours a head coach puts into the job are well-documented.

But would it really take being a dad and community volunteer away from Dungy? Not when you look at it this way. As I mentioned before -- and as others have discussed with me -- a return to coaching, this time in the college ranks, would give Dungy that opportunity to help mentor and influence impressionable young men. Add in that USF has been recruiting Dungy's son, Eric, to play football. If Eric were to choose USF, and Dungy were to want the job, then it would give him ample opportunity to be actively involved in his son's life, both on and off the field.

When you look at it, Tony Dungy to USF could be a match made in heaven. But I wouldn't hold my breath on it actually happening. Should it occur, though, it would be a huge statement for USF as a football program, and help them make that case for turning the "Big 3" in the state into the "Big 4."

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