Thursday, March 27, 2008

Dawson's Boot Counted

By John Clayton

March 27, 2008

Including specific field-goal attempt replays: Call this the Phil Dawson rule.

In Baltimore last season, the Cleveland Browns kicker had a last-play of regulation, game-tying field goal attempt that bounced off the upright and hit inside the crossbar. The kick initially was ruled no good, but after a lengthy discussion among officials the decision was overturned and Dawson's boot counted. Either way, the referee didn't have the luxury of seeing a replay because field goals aren't considered a reviewable play.

Under this proposal, field goals can be reviewed on a limited basis. The new replay review would be of a kick that is no higher than top of the uprights and within the width of the goalposts. Some owners not wishing to expand replay any further might vote this proposal down.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tom Santi shines at UVA Pro Day

By Jay Jenkins

March 19, 2008

The other former Cavaliers that took part in the drills, which included the bench press, jumping drills and the 40-yard dash, were thankful that Long was in attendance.

“I was happy that Chris came out and worked out,” said former Virginia kicker and punter Chris Gould. “He gave us an opportunity to perform in front of those scouts and, hopefully, those scouts maybe took notice of some people that would not have been looked at normally.”

Nate Lyles and Tom Santi may have been the biggest beneficiaries.

Lyles, a safety, sparkled in the vertical leap (36 inches), the bench press (22 reps with 225 pounds) and the 40-yard dash (4.48 and 4.42).

“I’m glad that [Lyles] got to show his stuff,” Long said. “As good as he might work out, he is a better teammate and a tough kid.”

Lyles’ stock for the NFL Draft remains uncertain, but Santi, who joined offensive lineman Branden Albert and Long at the combine, helped his draft stock further, which was needed with a talented pool of tight ends available this year.

“I did my 40 and my bench again and I did a lot better,” Santi said. “I ran better. I ran a 4.57. At the combine, my best was 4.76.”

Santi said he also had 18 reps with the bench press - four more than he did at the combine.

“You just kind of hit a wall late and you have to grind through it,” he said, “but that’s part of the test I guess.”

Santi was pleased with his lifting since Virginia’s coaching staff does not put a strong importance during strength training on the bench press.

“Other places put a huge emphasis on it and you will see guys doing 30, 35 reps … 35 is an elite number,” Santi added. “That’s not something we do here.”

What all of the recorded numbers mean, Santi said, are different in the eyes of the beholder.

“Different organizations put more emphasis on certain stuff,” he added, “but the way I look at it, if it is a test, I want to be as good as I can. I was happy to do that today.”

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Leavitt Becomes Big East’s Highest Paid Coach


March 11, 2008

TAMPA - University of South Florida coach Jim Leavitt stood before more than 100 high school recruits and their parents Saturday night and let them in on a little secret.

"He said he was going to sign a seven-year deal and he's not going anywhere for a long time," Chamberlain junior quarterback Dontae Aycock said.

Leavitt kept his word, signing a new seven-year, $12.6 million deal Monday, keeping him at USF through 2014.

As first reported by The Tampa Tribune, the deal is similar to the one offered to Leavitt on Nov. 29. However, Leavitt said he waited to sign because "I was busy hiring assistant coaches and recruiting."

Leavitt will make $1.5 million in 2008 with $100,000 increases each year to $2.1 million in 2014. His $1.8 million average over the life of the deal makes him the highest paid Big East coach, exceeding Rutgers' Greg Schiano ($1.7 million) and UConn's Randy Edsall ($1.5 million).

"It's all put together," Leavitt said. "It looks good."

Just two years ago, Leavitt signed a seven-year, $7 million deal. However, USF athletic director Doug Woolard said it was necessary to reward Leavitt, who is 79-47 since starting the program in 1996.

"He's done such a great job leading this program," Woolard said. "We wanted to be more in line with what was happening with the market and in the Big East."

One difference between Leavitt's new deal and the one he signed in November 2005 is a $200,000 increase in the assistants' pool. In 2007, five of USF's nine assistants were the lowest paid among BCS schools. The new deal increases the assistants' pool from $1.05 million to $1.25 million in 2008 and the pool increases $100,000 annually through 2012, when it tops out at $1.65 million.

Woolard said the assistants' increase was a mutual decision.

"We both wanted to be more reflective of the market," Woolard said. "We did make a significant bump."

Leavitt's new deal also provides more security for both USF and Leavitt.

If Leavitt is fired without cause - such as poor performance - he will receive 75 percent of the remaining contract, meaning $9.45 million of the $12.6 million deal is guaranteed.

Leavitt's deal also includes three additional incentives not in his old deal: $250,000 for winning the BCS national title; $200,000 for reaching the BCS national title game but not winning it; and $50,000 for a Top 10 finish in either the final AP or USA Today/coaches poll.

Dunedin junior running back Adarius Bellamy said Leavitt's longevity at USF was a "big selling point" in Bellamy becoming the Bulls' first verbal commitment Saturday.

"He said look at other schools and every four years it seems a different coach takes a different job," Bellamy said. "He's not going anywhere."

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