FAU Football: Defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt to leave for SMU

The Owls have had a new defensive coordinator each season since Roc Bellantoni was fired in 2016.


Photo courtesy of FAU Athletics.

Bryce Totz, Staff Writer

FAU will need to look for a new defensive coordinator, as sources can confirm that Jim Leavitt has been hired by Southern Methodist University. The Mustangs hired Leavitt to replace Kevin Kane, who left for Illinois. 

SMU is the sixth college team that Leavitt will be a member of the coaching staff for. He worked as a head coach at South Florida, a defensive coordinator with Colorado and Oregon, and a defensive analyst at Florida State before coming to FAU. 

Leavitt coached USF from 1997 to 2009. During his time there, he led the team to 10 winning seasons and five straight bowl games. The Bulls were an FCS school when he started there, and he brought the program through the ranks and they joined the Big East Conference before he was fired due to striking a player and interfering with the investigation.

After his time at USF, he earned his first coaching job in the NFL. Leavitt was hired by the San Francisco 49ers to be a linebackers coach. He was fired after head coach Jim Harbaugh left for the University of Michigan.

Leavitt was then hired by the Colorado Buffaloes to be their defensive coordinator. He parted ways with the team and went to Oregon where he spent two seasons with Willie Taggart. 

Both Taggart and Leavitt left Oregon after the 2018 season and went to Florida State. Taggart was the head coach there before coming to FAU, and Leavitt was a defensive analyst. FAU hired Taggart and Leavitt last season. 

The Owls were 5-3 last season before their bowl game against Memphis. During those eight games, the defense allowed 11.25 points per game. Last season, the defense had five interceptions and forced three fumbles.

In the Montgomery Bowl loss, the defense gave up 25 points, forced two fumbles, and had an interception. Bryce Totz is a staff writer for the University Press. For more information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @brycetotz.