Joel Miller, the South Florida player at the center of Jim Leavitt's dismissal as USF head coach -- who had publicly backed his coach during the university's investigation into allegations that Leavitt had grabbed and slapped Miller twice during halftime of the Bulls' Nov. 21 victory over Louisville -- went before the Tampa press Thursday to come clean:
Leavitt, from the beginning, has consistently and vehemently denied he did anything wrong. Before he was fired, Miller's (apparently false) statements to the press and investigators made the case against Leavitt look like something of a witch hunt; after he was fired, Leavitt used the same statements to continue proclaiming his innocence when he demanded his job back earlier this week. He apparently asked a volunteer assistant coach and sympathetic parent who was reportedly in the locker room at the time to vouch for his story in the local press.
Today, though, it sounds like Leavitt's only chance to salvage his reputation -- forget salvaging the job -- is to come clean himself:
Miller's attorney, Barry Cohen ... asked the fired USF football coach to "man up" and demanded a public apology.
Cohen said Miller did not want to sue Leavitt but left open his options if Leavitt does not admit his wrongdoing to USF president Judy Genshaft.
"It's time to stand up now, coach, and do the right thing," Cohen said, "because if you don't Steve Romine (Cohen's partner) and I might not know much about football, but we know a lot about hardball."
At one point, Cohen suggested that "criminal avenues are available" if Leavitt refuses to apologize and the situation get really out of hand. The initial response from Leavitt's attorney? "Why would he apologize for something he didn't do?" Is that hard enough for you, Cohen?