Leavitt empathizes with Edsall, UConn

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

If any coach in the Big East can relate to what Randy Edsall and the UConn community is going through right now, it's South Florida's Jim Leavitt.

The Bulls haven't lost a player in midseason like the Huskies did with Jasper Howard's stabbing death. But they've had their own share of tragedies.

Those include the death of freshman running back Keeley Dorsey in a conditioning drill in January 2007. One player on the team is still wearing Dorsey's No. 10 in tribute this season. Patrick Payton was killed in a motorcycle accident in the 2001 offseason. And this summer, former player Will Bleakley died at sea in a boating accident.

Leavitt thought about all of those losses when he found out about Howard.

"When I heard about it on Sunday, I broke," Leavitt said today on the Big East coaches' weekly teleconference. "It brought back all the memories of what I had to go through with our football team, with Keeley's family, but also Patrick Payton, and Will Bleakley. We've been through a lot of different things, and there's no way you can describe the pain that you go through.

"The only thing you can do is put faith in our Lord and in each other. I haven't had to go through it during a season. It was in the spring, in winter conditioning, so we had a couple of weeks where I let the guys sit down with their families. That's what's going to be an incredible challenge for Randy and the team.

"But there's nothing worse. It does put things in perspective. You lose a football game, and it's very difficult. But it is nothing like losing a player."