Leavitt wants USF job back, says incident was ‘misreported’

TAMPA – Jim Leavitt looked dapper in his dark suit. He sounded as fiery as ever.

Flanked by his newly retained lawyers attorneys Monday, the University of South Florida’s first and only football coach made his first public appearance since his firing on Friday and vowed a tenacious fight to get his job back.

True to form, Leavitt, 53, did not hold back his emotion.

“I tell our football team, ‘You’ve got to battle adversity for what you believe in,’ ” said Leavitt, his perennially hoarse voice rising in intensity and volume. “You’ve got to stand up for what you believe in.

“That’s what I’m doing. … and I don’t care how long it takes. I’m in this for my life, my name, my reputation, my family.”

Leavitt again denied grabbing sophomore player Joel Miller by the neck and striking him during halftime of the Nov. 21 game against Louisville.