Reports: Jim Leavitt agrees to lucrative deal to stay at Oregon

Oregon defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt, left, congratulates quarterback Justin Herbert after an NCAA college football game against Arizona, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, in Eugene, Ore. Oregon defeated Arizona 48-28. (AP Photo/Chris Pietsch)

It wasn’t cheap to keep Jim Leavitt in Eugene.

Leavitt, Oregon’s defensive coordinator, had the chance to follow Willie Taggart from Oregon to Florida State but opted to return for his second season with the Ducks under new head coach Mario Cristobal. Cristobal was promoted from offensive coordinator after Taggart accepted the FSU job after one season with the Ducks.

According to multiple outlets, Leavitt has agreed to a revised contract that will pay him “an average of $1.7 million per year through 2021.” The news was first reported by Bruce Feldman and seemingly confirmed by Leavitt himself.

Leavitt joined Taggart’s staff after two seasons at Colorado and helped engineer an impressive turnaround on the Oregon defense. In 2016, the Ducks were No. 126 nationally in total defense, giving up an average of 518.4 yards per game. Under Leavitt, the Ducks jumped all the way up to No. 46 at 369.2 yards per game.

With a $1.7 million average, Leavitt will rank among the top paid assistants in the country, according to USA Today’s coach salary database. In 2017, LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda ($1.8 million) and Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables ($1.7 million) were the only assistants to make what Leavitt is reportedly set to earn.

Leavitt, 61, is among the more experienced coordinators in the country. He was an assistant under Bill Snyder at Kansas State from 1990-1995 before a 13-year stint as the head coach at South Florida. After his time at USF came to an end, Leavitt was the linebackers coach for the San Francisco 49ers under Jim Harbaugh for three seasons and then landed at Colorado.

Instead of returning to the Sunshine State to work for Taggart, Leavitt opted to stick around in Eugene with Cristobal, who was promoted to head coach earlier this month. Leavitt hasn’t been shy about admitting his aspirations to once again be a head coach (he’s been connected to Kansas State). But for now, he will remain in his role at Oregon.

The Ducks were 7-5 in Taggart’s lone season and dropped to 7-6 with a loss in the Las Vegas Bowl to Boise State over the weekend in Cristobal’s first game as UO head coach.

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Sam Cooper is a writer for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!