Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 12/8/11
Were not sure Arizona State will take its cues from former NFL coach, current ESPN analyst and part-time nut job Jon Gruden, but hey, the way the coaching search has gone, why not? Gruden told ArizonaSports 620 that former South Florida coach Jim Leavitt would be a good hire for ASU. Leavitt is in his first season as linebackers coach with the surprising San Francisco 49ers. "If they can hire a guy better than Jim Leavitt, I hope Arizona State hires him,'' Gruden said on the Doug & Wolf show. "I've had a chance to not only get to know Jim as a friend, but I've spent a lot of time in the last year or two just talking football with him. He's passionate, intense. He's proven. Gruden got to know Leavitt while coaching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The guy built South Florida from a trailer to No. 2 in the country three years ago, Gruden said. He has a different pizzazz about him. You have to meet him. He's very charismatic. I think he's a tremendous recruiter. I think it'd be an unbelievable coup for Arizona State. Maybe. Maybe not. Leavitt, 55, spent 13 years at South Florida, going 95-57. The program started in Division I-AA, but Leavitt helped build it into a consistent Big East contender. In 2007, South Florida rose as high as No. 2 in the BCS rankings. The problem? On Jan. 8, 2010, South Florida fired Leavitt after a three-week probe found he struck a player during halftime of a game against Louisville and then interfered with the investigation. Leavitt has denied any wrongdoing and filed a wrongful termination lawsuit. A year later, South Florida reached a 2.75 million settlement. Would ASU be willing to pursue an aging coach with baggage after passing on another in Mike Leach? "I hope Arizona State finds their man,'' Gruden said. "I witnessed (Leavitt) do a phenomenal job for a long time."
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