Leavitt, the head coach at South Florida from 1997 to 2009, replaces Kevin Kane, who left to coach linebackers at Illinois under new coach Bret Bielema. Leavitt, who is 64, spent last season under Willie Taggart at FAU after spending the 2019 season with Taggart at Florida State, where he initially served as an analyst before moving into an on-field role.
Leavitt also worked under Taggart at Oregon as defensive coordinator in 2017, and he remained with the Ducks in 2018. He spent 2015 and 2016 as Colorado's defensive coordinator after a four-year run as San Francisco 49ers linebackers coach.
Leavitt went 95-57 as USF's first football coach, guiding the fledgling program from the FCS into the FBS ranks. He reached five consecutive bowl games from 2005 to 2009 but was fired in January 2010 after an investigation found that he had struck a player and interfered with the probe.