Leavitt led a defensive turnaround at CU before doing the same at UO

Jim Leavitt would like a to-go cup for his Pepsi.

Oregon’s defensive coordinator is being considered for the vacant head coaching position at Colorado.

Leavitt is a primary candidate to replace his former boss, Mike MacIntyre, along with Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason and an SEC defensive coordinator, according to a source familiar with the process.

Yahoo Sports reported that Leavitt, Mason and Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker are the top three candidates to lead the Buffaloes.

After Oregon elevated Mario Cristobal to head coach following Willie Taggart’s departure for Florida State last December, Leavitt’s salary was increased to $1.7 million, which is the highest for any assistant in the Pac-12.

Per terms of his contract, which runs through 2021, Leavitt would owe Oregon a $500,000 buyout if he leaves to go back to Boulder.

Leavitt, who was Colorado’s defensive coordinator in 2015-16, has been “working the phones” with people associated with the program trying to get support for his candidacy.

Colorado athletic director Rick George fired MacIntyre, whose team started the season 5-0 before losing its last seven games, on Nov. 18.

When Leavitt arrived in 2015, the Buffaloes had one of the nation’s worst defenses. In 2016, Colorado won the Pac-12 South Division, and Leavitt was a Broyles Award finalist for the nation’s top assistant after his unit finished seventh nationally in yards allowed per play (4.69), 17th in total yards allowed (328.3 ypg) and 18th in points allowed (20.5 ppg).

Oregon finished the 2016 season 126th in points allowed (41.4 ppg) and yards allowed (518.4 ypg) under Brady Hoke.

During Leavitt’s first season in Eugene, the Ducks allowed 29.0 points (81st) and 369.2 yards (46th) per game.

After an 8-4 regular season this year, Oregon ranks 63rd in points allowed (27.3 per game) and 62nd in yards allowed (390.5 per game).

According to a 247Sports report, Leavitt interviewed with Texas Texas this week. Utah State coach Matt Wells was named the Red Raiders' new coach Thursday night.

Leavitt’s deal with Oregon stipulates that he would not owe a buyout if he were to be hired as Kansas State’s head coach. His mentor, Bill Snyder, has yet to announce if he will be the Wildcats’ head coach next season.

The 61-year-old Leavitt had a 95-57 record as South Florida’s head coach from 1997-2009. He was accused of striking a player and fired but later awarded a $2.8 million settlement from the school.