The high stakes coaching mystery of Oregon coaches left behind when Willie Taggart took the FSU job earlier this week continues. And a very compelling name caught up in it is Mario Cristobal.
Cristobal, who was Taggart’s offensive coordinator, as well as offensive line coach, this past season in Eugene, was named the interim head coach on Tuesday. After all, the Ducks are readying to play in the Las Vegas Bowl against Boise State on December 16th.
And, while there is uncertainty if Cristobal and defensive coordinator, Jim Leavitt, will be able to eventually join Taggart in a couple of weeks or if they want to, this much is certain. The players don’t want Cristobal to leave.
In fact, the current Ducks players love Cristobal, so much, that when they met Wednesday for him to address the team for the first time since being promoted, there was a standing ovation for him as he walked into the meeting room with the entire team.
The Oregon players are pushing so hard for Cristobal that on Thursday they signed a petition for him to be named the full time head coach.
And it’s not as if Cristobal doesn’t have experience, he was the FIU head coach in Miami for six seasons, including 2010 where his team went 6-2 in the Sunbelt Conference tying for first and won the Little Caesar’s Bowl in Detroit that year.
He also was a former player and long time assistant at the University of Miami and well known, as a big time recruiter in South Florida.
Cristobal also spent 2013-16 coaching offensive line and recruiting, including Florida, for Nick Saban at Alabama and was part of two National Title wins by the Tide.
Needless to say, the Gators, Canes, and even the likes of USF, UCF, etc. would probably not like to see him in Tallahassee with Taggart helping scoop up key prospects for the Noles.
So what are his chances to get the gig permanently?
As the Oregonian lays out, AD Rob Mullens has been interviewing high profile candidates like Kevin Sumlin, who was fired by Texas A&M, but has a great resume’ of coaching offense and QB’s with the Aggies and the University of Houston before that.
There is also sentiment for Cal’s head coach Justin Wilcox, who is from Eugene and went to Oregon, but just finished his first season with the Bears in Berkley. Oregon would look hypocritical (surprise), if they tried to rip him away from a fellow Pac-12 school. This would be after just one season, when they’ve spent the last three days bemoaning Taggart’s lack of loyalty after just a season at Oregon.
It should be noted that Oregon promoted offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich to head coach, when Chip Kelly departed. And after leading the Ducks to the College Football Playoff Title Game with Heisman winner Marcus Mariota at the helm in 2014, all looked good. But Mariota left for the NFL, and Oregon fell apart-Helfrich going 4-8 in his final season before being fired.
That was the vacancy for Taggart to be hired from USF. And, bring Cristobal with him to Eugene.
Now, Taggart is gone, and there may be more than just Oregon players and fans who want Mario Cristobal to get the Ducks job permanently.
State schools here may want him to stay right where he is…in the Pacific Northwest and not end up with the Seminoles.
Reports from the Oregon media are that Cristobal has been hired Friday morning, as the full time coach. There is a players meeting scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Pacific to inform the team. No other details on Leavitt staying and other coaches at this point.
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