Credit: Eugene Register-Guard

Former Oregon defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt is joining the Florida State staff as an analyst, sources tell FootballScoop. Bruce Feldman first reported the move was official.

Leavitt “mutually agreed” to a parting of ways with Oregon and Mario Cristobal back in February. The hire serves as a reunion, as Leavitt served as Willie Taggart’s defensive coordinator with the Ducks during Taggart’s one season in Eugene, helping them improve drastically immediately, going from the bottom of the nation in a number of defensive statistics before his arrival, to top 45 in key statistics after just one year. Leavitt was not coaching anywhere this fall.

In a podcast back in April, Leavitt shared that he discussed the defensive coordinator opportunity with the Seminoles after Taggart had taken the job, but “the timing, and the contractual type thing, it just wasn’t going to happen.” There were also off season rumblings of Leavitt being next-in-line for the Kansas State head coaching job, a position eventually landed by North Dakota State’s Chris Klieman.

The Seminoles current defensive coordinator is Harlon Barnett, who Taggart hired away from Michigan State when he landed in Talahassee. Leavitt will work in tandem with Barnett to help improve the defense and bring a solid veteran voice to the room.

In year one under Barnett back in 2018, Florida State finished 121st nationally in scoring defense out of 130 teams, 108th in rush defense, and 119th in pass defense. In their first two games of 2019, and the second year in Barnett’s scheme, Florida State’s defense has given up 36 to Boise State in their season opener, and then needed overtime against Louisiana-Monroe to escape with a 45-44 win.

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