The job opened in mid-February when Wally Burnham left to become defensive coordinator at Iowa State. The 67-year-old Burnham, who was one of three Bull assistants to leave in a six-day span, said he wanted a new challenge. He certainly has one with the Cyclones, losers of 18 of 27 games.
The first candidate to interview was Joe Tresey, who was fired a week earlier by Cincinnati's Brian Kelly. Tresey reportedly pursued the defensive coordinator's job at Miami, costing him the gig with the Bearcats.
Former Rutgers secondary coach Chris Demarest was the next to interview. Demarest had been arrested and charged with domestic assault in July 2007. The charges were dismissed Feb. 6, 2008 after he completed an anger and stress management program. Three weeks later, he resigned from Rutgers and has been out of coaching since.
Neither Tresey or Demarest were offered the job by Leavitt, who next interviewed Nebraska linebackers coach Mike Ekeler. Last year’s stint at Nebraska was Ekeler's first season as a college assistant coach. He spent three seasons at Louisiana State, serving as an intern for one season and a graduate assistant for two seasons.
Illinois co-defensive coordinator Dan Disch was next on Leavitt's list. Disch, 50, has been at Illinois the past four seasons, the last two as co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. First Ekeler, then Disch were offered the job but declined.
Leavitt turned his attention Colorado secondary coach Greg Brown, 50, whose lengthy resume includes 15 years as an NFL assistant. Brown was offered the job but on Sunday decided to stay in Boulder. Brown's decision ignited a series of moves later Sunday indicating a new level of frustration/desperation.
Is the word out that Leavitt, who is no stranger to mood swings, difficult to work for, or is he merely the victim of a series of circumstances beyond his control?
Assistants have no doubt taken a look at how Leavitt treated Greg Gregory in January. Gregory, the Bull offensive coordinator, interviewed to become tight ends coach at Florida. When he got back to Tampa, Leavitt reassigned Gregory to tight ends coach.
"I took the chance to go to [interview at the] University of Florida, the national champions," Gregory said. "That didn’t mean I didn't want to be at USF. I was encouraged to [interview] by their offensive coordinator and I took that chance."
It took about three weeks before Gregory announced that he was leaving to become offensive coordinator at South Alabama, which will play its inaugural season this fall and become a full-fledged Division I-A Sun Belt member in 2013.
“I understand what [Leavitt] did, but I was willing to live with it," Gregory said. "After a couple of weeks, though, it was an uncomfortable position for everyone.”