Mario Cristobal Hired By Oregon: Interesting, But Did Ducks Panic?

Mario Cristobal Hired By Oregon: Interesting, But Did Ducks Panic?

American Athletic

Mario Cristobal Hired By Oregon: Interesting, But Did Ducks Panic?


Oregon takes off the interim tag and hires Mario Cristobal as the main head man. It’s an interesting call, but could the Ducks have done more?

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Did Oregon panic by hiring Mario Cristobal?

If you have a sugar daddy of a benefactor like Phil Knight, who famously quipped that $10 million for a college football head coach was possible, wouldn’t you want to widen the search just a wee bit and see what you could’ve had?

It was my big complaint with the Willie Taggart hire last year. Fine, whatever, but if money isn’t that big an issue – even if Knight’s claim might have been mostly talk – don’t you at least see what, say, $6 million a year could’ve done?

And no, it’s not necessarily a positive that 70 players petitioned to have Cristobal take over as the full-time head coach.

The players know what they know. They don’t know the big picture landscape of the college football coaching infrastructure, including the harsh fact that they’re totally irrelevant 3-to-5 years from now.

However, it obviously doesn’t hurt that the players like their coach, and it certainly helps the the recruiting side of things in a big, big way.

There’s continuity – Cristobal is a master motivator and recruiter; now the 2018 class gets to keep on rolling – and it’s a great sales point to show the high schoolers how much the players wanted this guy around.

And this just might be the right coach, too.

Cristobal did wonders with Florida International, taking it from absolutely nothing to a Sun Belt title and a bowl win in 2010 – both top-line items better than anything Willie Taggart has on his resume – iand followed it up with a strong 8-5 season.

A 3-9 2012 campaign soured the mood, and he caught a really, really bad break.

The guy who made FIU a something was booted for one rough season just as it was about to enter the Conference USA world.

And how did the Golden Panthers do after he was gone? 5-19 over the next two years and four straight losing seasons before Butch Davis turned things back around.

But Cristobal fell up.

A Miami guy through and through, there was some talk that the former Hurricane would be in the mix for the Miami gig a few times after being brought onto the staff as an assistant, but instead, the program eventually landed on Mark Richt – no complaints there.

Cristobal became instrumental in keeping the Alabama offensive line amazing over his four-year run handling Nick Saban’s front five, and then he left to work on Oregon’s offense as the offensive coordinator.

And now his job is simple. Do what he does best. Recruit, put together brilliant offensive lines, and be that guy everyone wants to play for.

Losing defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt doesn’t help, but for now, this isn’t a bad move by a program that’s been able to go the slightly unconventional route for head coaches and succeed.

Meanwhile, Chip Kelly is at UCLA. Scott Frost is at Nebraska. Willie Taggart is at Florida State. None of them have won a national title as a head coach.

And that’s where the bar will be set after a few years in Eugene. He’s got his chance at a big gig now, and there’s no grace period – the expectations will be there to produce right away. Maybe not quite a Pac-12 title, but Oregon has to look like it’s about to take that big next step forward.

Is Cristobal a national championship-level head coach? If he’s not, then then go buy one who is.


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