Mario Cristobal was named Oregon football’s interim head coach after Willie Taggart decided to leave the Ducks for Florida State on Tuesday. Oregon confirmed Cristobal’s promotion on Friday afternoon after it was first reported by NBC Sports Northwest in the morning.
As Oregon’s co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach under Taggart, Cristobal helped the Ducks’ offense produce a lethal run game led by Royce Freeman. Cristobal, who was the offensive line coach at Alabama between 2013-16, was an immediate favorite to take the head coach role once Taggart exited as multiple players and recruits expressed their desire for Cristobal to get the job.
“Mario’s leadership skills, work ethic, and experience makes him a perfect fit to lead the Oregon football program,” athletic director Rob Mullens said in a press release. “He has a passion for Oregon and a vision for our future success, and has made a significant impact on our student-athletes during his time here. We look forward to a great future on the horizon for Ducks under Mario’s leadership.”
At 4 p.m., the Ducks will hold a press conference to officially introduce Cristobal as the head coach.
“I’m excited and honored to be the head football coach of the Oregon Ducks,” Cristobal said in the press release. “The rich tradition combined with the incredible wave of momentum that has been created throughout the season and the recruiting process is something we believe will be unstoppable, and this will lead us to fulfill the great expectations of our great University and our fan base.”
Offensive lineman and senior Tyrell Crosby was active on Twitter following Taggart’s resignation, pushing for Cristobal to get promoted to the permanent position and not just the interim role.
Had an 70+ players signed petition to keep Cristobal as head coach
— Tyrell Crosby (@Tyrellcrosby) December 8, 2017
He even changed his profile picture to a photo of Cristobal that pays homage to former President Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign “hope,” but with the tagline “Mario.”
— Tyrell Crosby (@Tyrellcrosby) December 7, 2017
— Brady Breeze (@BradyBreeze) December 8, 2017
The hiring comes at the right time as the Ducks are set to host eight recruits over the weekend. These recruits had also stated that if Oregon managed to keep defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt, much of the top-10 2018 class would stay intact.
Cristobal, who was born in Miami, got his start as a graduate assistant at Miami after playing offensive tackle for the Hurricanes from 1989-92. He then joined Rutgers as an assistant coach.
He got his first head coaching job at Florida International University, where he coached the Panthers from 2007-12 before Nick Saban and Alabama came calling in 2013.
This story is developing and the post will be updated as new information becomes available.
Follow Shawn Medow on Twitter @ShawnMedow