Report: Oregon to pay DC Jim Leavitt nearly as much as new coach Mario Cristobal
Getting Leavitt back was obviously high on Cristobal's list of priorities
Oregon lost to Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl on Saturday, but it may have secured its future on Sunday. Defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt will reportedly sign an extension through the 2021 season, one that will make him an average of $1.7 million per year.
It's an interesting move as it not only makes Leavitt one of the highest paid assistants in college football, he will earn just $800,000 per season less than new coach Mario Cristobal, who agreed to a five-year, $12.5 million base salary deal with the Ducks (average $2.5 million).
Mind you, Leavitt's importance cannot be overstated. The Ducks giving him this type of extension after only one year is telling, and it shows a lot of respect from Cristobal for what his now-assistant brings to the table. Oregon ranked 42nd in the nation in yards allowed just one year after ranking 126th. They were also 126th in points allowed in 2016, whereas in 2017 they improved to 75th. Keep in mind, this was with 10 returning starters from the year before.
Furthermore, these stats come in the explosive Pac-12. If the team is trending up at that rapid of a rate, it should be clear that Leavitt is an important cog to the machine. The defense is far from perfect, but the other part of this equation is establishing continuity, something that's so important in a college football world where coaches are constantly on to greener pastures.
Leavitt, 61, was a head coach from 1997-2009 for South Florida, and this ensures he won't be going anywhere. There were rumors that Florida State coach Willie Taggart, who brought Leavitt to Oregon, was interested in hiring him away for his new Seminoles staff.
The move benefits Cristobal, whose background is in offense. Having a coach like Leavitt tenured will allow Cristobal to stay in his lane and focus on what he does well. For an NFL example, think coach Sean McVay and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips with the Rams. This may not net the exact same results in terms of immediate success, but it's certainly a blueprint worth following, and this looks like a savvy move by the Ducks.
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