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If USF’s game at Florida Atlantic transpires, so could history

The Bulls will be facing two of their former head coaches on the same night
Former USF coach Willie Taggart, now coach at Florida Atlantic, is set to square off against the Bulls on Saturday night in Boca Raton.
Former USF coach Willie Taggart, now coach at Florida Atlantic, is set to square off against the Bulls on Saturday night in Boca Raton. [ JONES, OCTAVIO | Tampa Bay Times ]
Published Sep. 21, 2020

If USF’s scheduled game at Florida Atlantic comes to fruition Saturday, so will an historic scene on the sidelines.

We presume.

It is believed Saturday’s contest will be the first at the major college level — and perhaps any collegiate level — in which a team will face two of its former head coaches in the same game. The scenario materialized when Owls coach Willie Taggart (USF, 2013-16) hired Jim Leavitt — first coach in USF history (1997-2009) — to serve as FAU defensive coordinator.

Our normally nimble minds at the Tampa Bay Times haven’t been able to recall a similar circumstance at the Division I-A level. Neither have some brains we’ve tapped in national media circles. Additionally, both schools believe the scenario to be unprecedented.

Coach Jim Leavitt leads USF onto the field at the old Houlihan's Stadium prior to the program's inaugural game against Kentucky Wesleyan in 1997. [Times files]
Coach Jim Leavitt leads USF onto the field at the old Houlihan's Stadium prior to the program's inaugural game against Kentucky Wesleyan in 1997. [Times files] [ CLIFF MCBRIDE | Tampa Bay Times ]

But first, we must reach kickoff.

FAU was forced to postpone its season opener Saturday against Georgia Southern due to a number of positive COVID-19 tests within the Owls program. FAU had to cancel last Tuesday’s practice, and Taggart told reporters the following day that roughly 11 members of the program had tested positive.

Yahoo Sports' Pete Thamel later reported FAU had an entire position group unavailable after another round of testing Friday. Taggart indicated Friday evening he was cautiously optimistic the Owls will be able to host the Bulls this weekend.