Oregon picking over suspect Thanksgiving coaching leftovers after flurry of hires

Ducks have infrastructure to be remain relevant, but coaching carousel forcing them to get creative or settle for scraps

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Mario Cristobal
Mario Cristobal
Photo: Getty Images

Mario Cristobal is taking his talents to South Beach and is out the door at Oregon after Utah hit him in the ass with it. (Looking at the judges to see I get credit for two cliches in a lede. And… yes, “taking his talents to South Beach” qualifies.) The hire for Miami is seemingly a home run because his best trait aligns with Miami’s strength: Recruiting.

What he did at Oregon created the juice for his alma mater to drop him the proverbial bag. I’m not going to get into how good of a hire it is for The U or if “drop the bag” or calling Miami “The U” technically count as cliches because this is the internet and you don’t have time for extensive breakdowns from experts, and I’m also not an expert.

All I have is an opinion from a cousin/diehard and definitely not reactionary Ducks fan: “Send (Cristobal) packing, with all the talent in the world he can’t coach.” Wow, damning words from a family member corroborated by his dad/my uncle Mark, an Oregon fan by osmosis; a strong start, and I believe a blogger citing a fan in their life as reporting also qualifies as a cliché.

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There you have it, Canes fans. Have fun seeing if South Florida talent can overcome Cristobal’s coaching. Now, on to the team he left.

Oregon is headed to the Alamo Bowl to face Oklahoma in a showdown of programs headed by interim coaches because their lead man Lincoln Riley was hired astray, too. Top five NFL draft prospect defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux opted out of the bowl game and his senior year, the transfer portal-verse is angry and now the scramble has commenced, as the Ducks are a hungry hippo among many vying for a marble/head coach.

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The list of possible replacements isn’t great. If you’re playing coaching carousel Bingo at home, you can mark off your Matt Campbell and Dave Aranda spaces, and also put a check next to Chip Kelly. If you had Alabama coordinator and underwhelming alum on your score card you may have just hit Bingo. Read to the end for your prize.

The good news for every one in Eugene is the program has been relevant enough in the college football landscape that it can land a great coach, but the downside is keeping one from getting poached is harder than ever and has proven difficult for every school not named Alabama. As I mentioned, Oregon isn’t the only coach-less or coach-in-transition team this bowl season, so that’s heartwarming.

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Maybe they can ruin some other university’s Christmas by luring away an “unattainable” coach. Their uniforms would indicate they have plenty of money to throw around, but the list of possibilities is unrealistic. There are only so many coaches that get offered enough money/compensation to make you question your value on this planet, and they’re not godfathering away Ryan Day, Dabo Swinney, or anybody of that quality no matter how much Nike Oregon can offer.

BYU’s Kilani Sitake is on the list of possible candidates they could pluck, but, again, he doesn’t stop you in your ESPN tracker and make you say “Oh, well, if they could get him, yes, of course.” With all of the legacy schools shoveling more cash, houses, and weird perks than ever at coaches, it’ll be interesting to see what approach Oregon takes.

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The job is almost as attractive as their duck lookalike alternates, and Cristobal proved players will go there. The issue (or my issue), is can it be done differently? You can get talent. That’s already better than a lot of schools, but there has to be a way to stay in the top 10 without one of the five coaches that matter because even coaches that only marginally matter, like a Jimbo Fisher, are getting paid enough to make you want to cry yourself asleep at night.

There has to be a coach or an assistant coach out there who can take what Oregon already has working and improve it. Chopping off another school’s head can’t be the only answer. Riley and Day were handed the keys to programs in phenomenal shape. I still don’t know how Swinney did what he did, but try a non bag-based approach. Regardless of what you think of the Marcus Freeman hire, Notre Dame saw the entry fee other schools had to pay to enter the college football playoff sweepstakes and said nope. Even if you have the amount of wealth where money could possibly be the answer, sports don’t work that way.

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The number of great jobs that have opened up this offseason is wild, and it has forced universities to settle for leftovers. We don’t have to hope for teams to abandon cliche hires because that’s already happened.

Oregon has the resources and talent that a smart, capable coach could thrive with. Now let’s see if there are any of those left out there.

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(For you Bingo winners, thank you for reading. Your prize is a fun fact: There are more trees on Earth than stars in our galaxy. A Snapple cap told me that so blame them if it’s wrong.)