4. Q: Is Mario Cristobal ready to be awesome?
Admittedly it’s anecdotal, but suggest that Oregon has the talent and experience to potentially come up with a gigantic season, and expect an instant comment about how it would be, except the head coach might not be ready or primetime.
Mario Crisobal’s Sun Belt-conference-winning season at FIU was all the way back in 2010, but the program screwed up by letting him go after a 3-9 season following two straight bowl appearances. As a top assistant at Alabama and Oregon, he was more than ready to slide on into the head coaching gig.
However, it wasn’t a great look when the Oregon players lobbied for him to be the head man after Willie Taggart left, and his team was a total dud out of the gate in the 38-28 loss to Boise State in the 2017 Las Vegas Bowl.
Throw in the total collapse in a 38-31 loss to Stanford last season, and the inexplicable 44-15 loss to Arizona, and there’s good reason to question just how good Cristobal will be with this loaded team.
As tough as it’s going to be, though, think long haul with the Oregon program.
This year’s team is more than good enough to win the Pac-12 title. Getting QB Justin Herbert back for another year is just a part of it. The team is loaded with pro prospects across the board, young talent seemingly ready to fill in the gaps, and best of all for the program, a ton of positive momentum.
Cristobal can really, really recruit. Start with that, and again, it’s about the bigger picture for the program. Coming up with a top ten-caliber haul is par for the course in the SEC, but in the Pac-12, a class like Cristobal just landed can be a gamechanger.
Combine a few big wins with the recruiting prowess, and look out. He’ll get his change right away.
The game against Auburn to kick-off the season in Arlington will be one of those first weekend showcase moments everyone will pay attention to. Look amazing and beat the SECer in a big moment, and Cristobal’s status goes through the roof. Lose ugly, and with road games at Stanford, Washington, USC and Arizona State to go, and the let the piling on begin.
Either way, the talent is still coming in. No matter what, 2019 should be just the start of big things for the Ducks.