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- College football coach
- American college football player, professional football player, college football coach, offensive lineman
In this unusual year for coaching changes around the country, the Oregon Ducks find themselves the latest team looking for a new face to lead their football program.
On Monday, Mario Cristobal left Eugene to take his talents to the Miami Hurricanes after going 35-13 and winning two Pac-12 titles (2019, 2020) during his four seasons with the Ducks. He also guided Oregon to a third consecutive Pac-12 championship appearance this season.
Now the Ducks are left looking for their fifth coach in 11 seasons. Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens said he would likely have a candidate before early National Signing Day, which will be held on Dec. 15-17.
"Our priority is finding the right person," Mullen said to reporters Monday. "With signing day right around the corner, that does add an element to it. But at the end of the day, this is about a long-term relationship.
"We are going to find the right person. We'll move as expeditiously as possible but be centered on finding the right person."
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So who could be on the shortlist of candidates Oregon looks at during its latest coaching search?
Dave Aranda, Baylor head coach
In his first season in Waco in 2020, Aranda finished with a disappointing 2-7 campaign, the Bears' second-worst season since 2000. However, his second season at Baylor proved to be one of the most successful in school history.
On Saturday, Aranda led Baylor over Oklahoma State, 21-16, on a goal-line stand to win the program's first Big 12 Championship game. The Bears were the first non-Sooners team to win the Big 12 since 2014.
While Aranda has expressed he's committed to the Baylor program, Oregon could attempt to change his mind by demonstrating what the school has to offer, including its football facilities.
Coming back to the West Coast could be a draw for Aranda as he was born and raised in California. Previously, he was a defensive coordinator at Utah State, Hawaii, LSU and Wisconsin prior to taking over at Baylor.
Bringing Aranda could help stabilize the excellent recruiting class Cristobal left behind while possibly keeping Oregon near the top of the conference in 2022.
Matt Campbell, Iowa State head coach
It seems like every year Campbell's name gets mentioned for a higher profile coaching job than the one he currently has at Iowa State. While Campbell hasn't been convinced to leave Ames yet, it doesn't mean it couldn't happen.
All Campbell has done at Iowa State during his six seasons is take the Cyclones to five consecutive bowl appearances, including a Fiesta Bowl victory against Oregon in 2020. Prior to his arrival, Iowa State had played in three bowls in 10 seasons.
Overall, Campbell is 42-33 with one trip to the Big 12 Championship game (2020) at Iowa State. He also was a head coach at Toledo before coming to the Cyclones, Campbell was named the 2015 MAC coach of the year. Campbell is certainly a coach who could keep Oregon near the top 10 and contending for Pac-12 championships for years to come.
Justin Wilcox, California head coach
Could Oregon decide to reach out to an alum with its next coaching hire? If so, Wilcox could be a name to watch.
The former Ducks defensive back and Junction City (Oregon) High quarterback took over at Cal in 2017, and the results have been pedestrian to say the least. He is 26-28, which includes an 8-5 record in 2019.
Before he took over in Berkeley, Wilcox was a defensive coordinator at Boise State, Tennessee, Washington, USC and Wisconsin. It would make some sense to speak with Wilcox for the vacancy, but the Ducks could decide to hire a more established name.
Dan Lanning, Georgia defensive coordinator
There might not be an assistant coach who has risen up athletic directors' lists of candidates faster than Lanning has this season.
While the Bulldogs suffered a setback against Alabama in the SEC Championship last week, Lanning has been in charge of arguably the best defense in the country. In 13 games, Georgia held opponents to 9.5 points per game, the best average in the FBS since Alabama held teams to 8.2 points per game in 2011.
Also this season, the Bulldogs only allowed 253.2 yards per game, which was second in the country to Wisconsin. It's only a matter of time before some program gives the keys to Lanning, and that could be Oregon.
One area working against Lanning is he has no previous head coaching experience at the FBS level. Before coming to Georgia in 2018, first as an outside linebackers coach and later defensive coordinator, Lanning worked as an assistant at Memphis and as a graduate assistant at Pittsburgh, Arizona State and Alabama.
Kalanai Sitake, BYU head coach
Sitake seems to be settled and happy at his alma mater, but could he leave Provo to take a better job at Oregon?
Since taking over for Bronco Mendenhall as BYU coach in 2016, all Sitake has done is win at BYU as he has a 48-28 mark in six seasons. He went 9-4 in his first year with the Cougars but posted a 4-9 record in 2017. However, BYU didn't stay down for long as after two consecutive 7-6 seasons in 2018 and 2019, Sitake led the Cougars to 21 wins in the last two years.
Sitake is a rising star in college football circles as Pac-12 teams know him well. BYU went 5-0 versus the conference this season. Before taking over at BYU, Sitake was Oregon State's assistant head coach and defensive coordinator in 2015. So he is familiar with the state of Oregon and its football landscape.
Oregon is known for its history of Polynesian players (most notable Heisman winner Marcus Mariota). It is certainly possible the Ducks could look Sitake's way.
While BYU will join the Big 12 in 2023, the Cougars likely couldn't come close to matching any offer Oregon could give him.
This article originally appeared on Register-Guard: Oregon Ducks football: Possible candidates for head coach job