As expected, Willie Taggartbolted Oregon to take the Florida State job on Tuesday, leaving Nike U looking for another head coach just a year after hiring Taggart. While the Ducks are planning to do a search for a new coach, the man they should hire is already on campus.
Mario Cristobal is Oregon’s co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, and was named the team’s interim head coach on Tuesday. He should get the job permanently. The 47-year-old has been a head coach before, has experience as an assistant at top programs and is a dynamite recruiter. If Oregon wants to continue the transformation started under Taggart, Cristobal should be the school’s next head football coach.
Cristobal was a First Team All-Big East offensive tackle at Miami in 1992, then played a few years in NFL Europe. He followed that with assistant coaching stops at Miami, Rutgers and Miami again, before being hired as the second head coach ever at Florida International.
From 2007 through 2012, Cristobal turned FIU from a doormat to a competitive program in the Sun Belt. While his overall record of 27-47 doesn’t look great, he took over an awful situation and wound up winning a conference title in his fourth year. Cristobal was fired by FIU in 2012 and became Alabama’s offensive line coach form 2013 through 2016 before joining Taggart at Oregon.
While Taggart and his staff were only on campus for a year, they put together a solid foundation. According to 247’s rankings, Oregon currently has the eighth-ranked recruiting class for 2018. That class is likely to fall apart if Oregon brings in a completely new staff. Cristobal is the current group’s best recruiter and could hold things together.
Cristobal is on the path to be a head coach again anyway and hiring him would make the most sense for Oregon given its current situation.
Other candidates are certainly out there. I think we all know Phil Knight is going to make a call to Chip Kelly, even though he just took the UCLA job. Kevin Sumlin, SMU’s Chad Morris, Memphis coach Mike Norvell, Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez and a number of other potential candidates could certainly be interested. But Cristobal is more than worthy of the job and would bring the cleanest transition.