In the minutes after the Oregon Ducks were once again embarrassed by the Utah Utes, this time to the tune of a 38-10 defeat in the Pac-12 Championship Game, head coach Mario Cristobal met with the media and was expectedly asked about the rumors surrounding his name and the Miami coaching job.
He answered those questions, but not in a way that might have Oregon fans convinced that he is staying put.
On Friday afternoon, multiple reports came out that the Hurricanes are hoping to make Cristobal their next head coach, with some high-end boosters “feeling good” about their ability to land the former offensive lineman who won two national championships with the school back in the 1980s.
Cristobal could have certainly said that these rumors had no legs and that he had no intentions of leaving Oregon to rebuild at Miami. Instead, he dodged and worked around the questions. Here is a full transcript of the questions and answers:
Question: Mario, much of the hours leading up to the game were spent on reports regarding your future. Do you intend to sign a contract extension with Oregon, or would you accept the Miami job if offered?
Cristobal: Yea, I don’t know what you’re into when you say someone’s offered, I haven’t talked to anybody. So let’s not create narratives as we sit here in this press conference. Oregon is working on some stuff for me and that’s what I have right now. And that’s the extent of that conversation.
Question: Mario, what do you say to the fans and the people that support this program when there’s uncertainty of your future in 2022?
Cristobal: I would say that if there’s anything to report, I would report it. I always have. I think over the years, maybe because certain things, or something that are actually put out there or not, every year our entire staff, whether it’s behind the scenes, whether it’s public or not, we’ve always had different people come for our people, including myself. How the media treats it and how they choose to posture, I have no control over. And certainly, again, like I mentioned before, that’s the extent of it.
Question: These reports are out there, and the players might have seen them. With such a flat effort, could they be distracted by seeing that stuff?
Cristobal: I don’t know what to tell you. I can tell you this, if I had any plans, if I had a decision to make or I had something to report, I would, and I wouldn’t keep it one way or the other. Do I expect people to come at me? Yea, I do. It happens every single year. Is there anything else to report besides that? There’s nothing else to report besides that. If there is, or when there ever is, if there ever is, I’ll make sure to get it to you as fast as I can.
Question: Would you listen to people if they came at you?
Cristobal: Guys, I’m not going to get into hypotheticals. We just finished off a game that we played and coached very poorly. I understand you have a job to do. I feel like we’re going in circles with the same answers and you’re going to get the same response.
It obviously sounds like a coach who is tired and frustrated after another loss on the big stage, this time ending his team’s chances to make it to the Rose Bowl. It didn’t sound like a coach who has made a decision, though.
Maybe Cristobal is undecided. Maybe he is keeping the speculation open in attempts to get a higher contract extension with Oregon, and using the leverage that he might leave for Miami as an ace up his sleeve. Or maybe he fully intends to go to his alma mater and take over as the new head coach, hoping to bring them back to national relevance.
He was asked about those intentions on Friday night, and he avoided giving a clear answer. In an extremely muddled situation, Cristobal chose not to clean it up.
Make of that what you will.