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It’s a rumor that we’ve been dealing with all season long. Not about the Florida Gators specifically, but the rumor that Oregon Ducks head coach Mario Cristobal could potentially leave Eugene at the end of this year to try his hand at a different school, likely somewhere in the South where his roots are.
There were early talks about him potentially jumping down to Los Angeles for the USC Trojans job once it was opened up, but Cristobal shut that one down pretty quickly. Now, a flurry of jobs have opened up, particularly down in the SEC, and it’s at least fair to ask the question.
Most recently, the Florida Gators fired head coach Dan Mullen after a subpar season. They are now on their 4th head coaching search in the past 10 years and looking to find someone who can lead them back to the glory lands that Tim Tebow walked on in his time with the Gators.
Obviously, they’re trying to swing big. So could Cristobal be someone that they come after?
According to our friends at USA Today’s Gators Wire, he is the top candidate on the list, with fans hoping to bring a physical, tough-nosed coach who can instill a culture down in Gainsville that will put them back on the map.
If Florida wants to make a splash hire, Cristobal is the one it has to be. The 51-year-old was promoted from his role as Oregon’s co-offensive coordinator to head coach after Willie Taggart left for Florida State following the 2017 season, and he’s quickly built what is the best program in the Pac-12 at the moment.
A Miami native who also previously served as an assistant and recruiting coordinator under Nick Saban, Cristobal is an elite recruiter and he knows the area. He has a 34-12 record at Oregon, and he may be happy where he is. But there are built-in disadvantages to coaching in the Pac-12, such as the lack of distribution for its television network, and the league’s philosophy doesn’t always jibe with the Ducks’ blue-blood aspirations.
Oregon’s already seen one coach leave for a Power Five program in Florida. The Gators should at least make the call to see if Cristobal is pleased with his current situation.
That’s the key in this all; Cristobal may be a top candidate, but there’s nothing to say that he has any intentions of leaving the Ducks. Teams can call him all they want, but there’s nothing to say that he would actually move on from Oregon. Over the past several years, he has finally established his culture with the program, and his recruiting success is taking shape on the field, building potential title contenders that routinely have a chance to be in the conversation. The final step is getting the job done at the end of the year. We saw that fall short once again this season, but it’s tough to think that defeat would be enough for Cristobal to skip town, seeing as he would have to start over at a new school.
As the end of the year comes and the coaching carousel starts to churn, there are going to be rumors that fly around. Cristobal is likely going to be involved in most, if not all of them. That’s just the nature of the game. Should Oregon beat the Beavers this weekend, and potentially make it back to the Rose Bowl with a third-straight Pac-12 Championship under its belt, I think there’s no way the Ducks are looking for a new coach in the offseason.
Even if the Ducks fall to their in-state rival on Saturday, I find it hard to believe Cristobal would look for greener grass.
It rains pretty constantly in Eugene. Anyone with some sense would tell you that the grass doesn’t get much greener.