Leavitt makes good choice with Tresey

March, 4, 2009
3/04/09
10:06
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

For a while there, it looked like South Florida would never find a defensive coordinator, as assistants kept turning down coach Jim Leavitt seemingly every day.

In the end, Leavitt hired one of the first guys he interviewed: former Cincinnati defensive coordinator Joe Tresey. It certainly appears as though Tresey wasn't Leavitt's original choice since he had to go back to him after offering the job to others. But whatever the case, this looks like a good hire.

Tresey's defenses at Cincinnati the past two years were the unsung heroes of the Bearcats' success, including two wins over South Florida. So why was Tresey fired in February? Coach Brian Kelly called it "philosophical differences" and talked about wanting to switch to a 3-4. But the more people I talk to, the more I become convinced that it was mostly Tresey's flirtation with a job at Miami that led to the split with Kelly.

Tresey's job performance surely didn't merit his dismissal. Now he'll take over a Bulls defense that's loaded with athletes, including All-American defensive end George Selvie. It needs some work, especially in the defensive backfield, but Cincinnati's corners and safeties were the heart of their defense under Tresey. He'll bring an aggressive style that's based on causing turnovers, an area where South Florida has struggled the past couple of seasons.

Interestingly enough, Kelly has now lost two key defensive assistants to teams he'll have to play this year. Assistant head coach/defensive line coach Keith Gilmore went to Illinois, which comes to Nippert Stadium on Nov. 28. Both the Illini and the Bulls should be well prepared for the Bearcats' offensive schemes.  

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