Did the Strong/Taggart odyssey begin last October?
The surreal developments at USF over the past five days reaffirmed how volatile fate can be in college football's bizarre stratosphere.
Today, the arrivals of Willie Taggart and Charlie Strong to Oregon and USF, respectively, are being widely hailed. One is being counted on to rescue a former Pac-12 power fading from relevance, the other to keep a surging program on an upward trajectory.
But on Oct. 10, 2015, both were coaching for their jobs.
That afternoon, Strong's 1-4 Longhorns limped into the Red River Rivalry in the wake of embarrassing defeats to TCU and Notre Dame. Bent on owning the line of scrimage, Texas churned out 313 rushing yards and shocked No. 10 Oklahoma, 24-17.
"(Strong) is not out of the woods yet, not with an 8-11 record overall," Austin (Texas) American-Statesman columnist Kirk Bohls wrote. "But it’s a robust, fresh start. His boss liked it."
Just as that game was ending, Taggart was leading the 1-3 Bulls from the southwest tunnel of Raymond James Stadium for their encounter with Syracuse. At that point, USF was 7-21 under Taggart and many presumed he needed a win against the Orange to preserve his job.
Turned out, that was the day Taggart began letting Quinton Flowers be...well...Quinton Flowers. The sophomore quarterback notched his first 300-yard effort as the Bulls rolled, 45-24.
"I stopped playing like a robot and played my game," Flowers said.
A mere 14 months have passed since. Taggart's team built on the momentum of that day, winning 16 of its next 20 and propelling its coach into a Power Five gig. Strong never had another victory as significant as that romp of the Sooners.
One guy literally trended north (to the Pacific Northwest), the other south, with both landing in the lap of mostly exuberant, hopeful fan bases.
Crazy business, eh?