As expected earlier in the day, Oregon has officially named Mario Cristobal as its next head football coach. The announcement making the move official came Friday afternoon with a released statement.
“Mario’s leadership skills, work ethic, and experience makes him a perfect fit to lead the Oregon football program,” Oregon director of athletics Rob Mullens said in a released statement. “He has a passion for Oregon and a vision for our future success, and has made a significant impact on our student-athletes during his time here. We look forward to a great future on the horizon for Ducks under Mario’s leadership.
Cristobal joined the Oregon football program as an offensive assistant under Willie Taggart, who of course has returned to the state of Florida to coach Florida State. Oregon players had been dropping hints online all week about their enthusiasm to be playing for Cristobal, and it is likely they are happy to have Cristobal staying around for the future.
This will be Cristobal’s first head coaching job since 2012, when he was fired by FIU, for some reason. We’re still trying to figure that one out. But life goes on. Cristobal spent some time as an assistant at Alabama under Nick Saban and then one year at Oregon.
I guess the answer to that question was, yes, the players were indeed heard.
In the post right below this one, we noted that more than 70 playing members of the Oregon football program had signed a petition seeking Mario Cristobal, the team’s interim head coach, to be named as the permanent replacement for Willie Taggart. According to Aaron Fentress of NBC Sports Northwest, Cristobal will become the next Ducks head coach.
Per a university official, an announcement on the status of the search for Taggart’s successor could come as early as today.
Cristobal is in his first season as UO’s co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. Prior to that, he was the line coach at Alabama for four years.
This would mark Cristobal’s second stint as a head coach. Prior to his time in Tuscaloosa, Cristobal took over a Florida International program that was 0-12 in its third year of existence and, three years later, had them playing in the first of two straight bowl games. To the surprise of many, he was fired as the Panthers’ coach in 2012.
Cristobal’s first, and perhaps most important, job will be to convince Jim Leavitt to remain at Oregon instead of following Taggart to Florida State. Leavitt, who’s potentially in line to replace Bill Snyder at Kansas State, is in his first season as the Ducks’ defensive coordinator.
If the hiring comes to fruition, there would be no Power Five jobs open at the moment. Three Group of Five openings still need to be filled — Kent State, Louisiana and SMU.
The players have spoken. Whether they’re heard is another matter entirely.
It’s been three days since Willie Taggart left after one season as Oregon’s head coach to take the same job at Florida State, with a search for Taggart’s replacement commencing even before he officially bolted Eugene for Tallahassee. In the meantime, Mario Cristobal has taken the reins of the program after being named interim head coach, guiding the Ducks as the search continues and helping them traverse the recruiting trail with the finish line of the first early signing period in sight.
If a sizable chunk of the roster has any say in the matter, however, the co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach will have the interim stripped from his current title and be named the full-time UO head coach.
Not only does Cristobal have the backing of the players, but he would also come to the job armed with head-coaching experience. Cristobal took over a Florida International program that was 0-12 in its third year of existence and, three years later, had them playing in the first of two straight bowl games. A controversial firing in 2012 led him to Alabama for four years before he left Tuscaloosa for Eugene in January of this year.
That said, there are a couple of other names still in play for the job, most notably the recently deposed head coach at Texas A&M who many have assumed to be the front-runner from the get-go.
It pays to be a college football coach, even if you don’t occupy the big chair at a school.
USA Today has released their annual database of assistant coach salaries and revealed that LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda takes home the biggest paycheck at a whopping $1.8 million in 2017, just edging out Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables for the top spot.
When factoring in offensive coordinator Matt Canada‘s $1.505 million salary, LSU is home to two of the four highest paid assistants in the country. Not surprisingly, the SEC in general leads the way in terms of assistant pay and has nine coaches making over $1 million for the season. In contrast, the Big 12 and Pac-12 have only one seven-figure assistant and the Big Ten manages to have three — all at Michigan. Private schools such as USC, Stanford and Vanderbilt did not release salary figures.
Perhaps most interesting is that just three schools who had a $1 million coordinator made a New Year’s Six bowl game and only one of them won their conference (Clemson). Interestingly, four coordinators making seven-figures were also on a staff where the head coach was fired this season.
You can view the full list here and do a deep dive on all the numbers from around the country.
Florida State has yet to announce Willie Taggart as its new head coach, but Oregon has announce he’s no longer theirs. The Ducks acknowledged Taggart’s impending departure in a news release Tuesday, and named offensive coordinator Mario Cristobal as interim head coach.
Taggart went 7-5 in his one season leading the program.
“We thank Willie for his efforts at Oregon, and we wish him and his family all the best in the future,” AD Rob Mullens said in a statement.
Cristobal is expected to be a candidate for the full-time position, and an appearance in the Las Vegas Bowl next Saturday against No. 25 Boise State will provide a nice audition, assuming the search lasts that long.
“I am grateful to Mario Cristobal for his willingness to step up and lead our program through our upcoming bowl game,” Mullens said. “The University of Oregon is a high-caliber academic institution with one of the premier college football programs in the country, and we are confident that we will find another outstanding coach to lead our tremendous group of student-athletes into the future.”
Cristobal was FIU’s head coach from 2007-12 and is regarded as one of the top recruiters in the country.