How much will Phil Knight’s sense of urgency play a factor in Oregon’s coaching search?

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One can assume Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens has a good cell phone plan and a great internet connection for all of those interviews he will conduct in the next few days.

Mullens is on the hunt for the next leader of Oregon football.

The usual names are being bandied about with Baylor’s Dave Aranda, California’s Justin Wilcox, and Iowa State’s Matt Campbell most likely near the top of his list.

(Note: if the name JIMMY LAKE appears on that caller ID, hit IGNORE.)

But there’s one factor in Mullens selecting his fourth coach in the last decade that few people are talking a lot about:

Phil Knight.

There’s no question Uncle Phil will play a monumental part in the hiring. According to reports, when Mario Cristobal turned down the 10-year, $85 million extension, Knight was more than a little peeved. He was downright angry.

In the latest episode of Trojans Wired, I spoke to Matt Zemek, editor of USA Today’s Trojans Wire, and Miami Insider Ian Hest about a number of different topics. On one topic, towards the end of the podcast, we talked about where Oregon goes for Cristobal’s replacement.

Knight is 83 years old. His patience is wearing thin and while he’s not exactly on his death bed, he probably doesn’t have another 20 years to wait around. He’s an angry old man, he wants a championship and he wants it now.

So as the conversation developed, Hest talked about how Cristobal might go after Clemson’s offensive coordinator Tony Elliot. He’s also being pursued by Virginia and Duke. It’s a foregone conclusion Elliot is on his way out and Miami, according to reports, is set to hire Tigers athletic director Dan Radakovich to the same position. Also, Oklahoma hired Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables to be their head coach.

Again, Knight wants a national title now. Oregon might want to go after a guy who has experience in winning the big game and Nick Saban won’t be available.

But the coach who just lost his defensive coordinator and will probably lose his athletic director and offensive coordinator might want to jump ship himself for a new start.

So would Dabo Swinney listen to Knight and Mullens if they called, offering that massive number that was reportedly given to Cristobal?

It’s not completely insane.

Ken Ruinard/staff /USA TODAY NETWORK

If Oregon wants to make a splash hire, this would create a bigger splash than a cannonball by a kid in the community pool.

Oregon has the money.

They were willing to spend $85 million on a coach who has won one Rose Bowl. Swinney is set to make $8.5 million in 2022. His average from 2023 through 2028, is set to be $9.58 million. Oregon also has $9 million of extra cash from the Cristobal buyout. Swinney’s buyout is around $10. Essentiallly, it would cost the Ducks $1 million to get Swinney out of his contract at Clemson.

Ten years at $105-110 million plus incentives would at least get Swinney to listen. That’s worth at least one phone call on Mullens’ cell phone plan.

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