Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Mario Cristobal enters the prove-it year

Unless you're a Husky, a Trojan or an Aggie, it's nearly impossible to dislike Mario Cristobal.

He's one of the most authentic and passionate coaches in a passionate game.

In three years he's 25-10 as Oregon coach, with two conference championships and a Rose Bowl Trophy.

He's brought three historical recruiting classes to a school where some said it was hard to recruit.
His players graduate and stay out of trouble. He's represented the university well, hired great coaches, built a great culture and created a lot of enthusiasm for the program.

This fall, sixth-year super senior Anthony Brown takes over at quarterback. He got all the first-team reps in the spring.

This is Cristobal's prove-it year. After three recruiting classes and three cracks at the transfer portal, this is the roster he's built. Whatever strengths and weaknesses it has, wherever it's thin, whatever the question marks and uncertainties, this is his squad.

As of June there were nearly 50 quarterbacks available in the NCAA transfer portal. This is the depth chart he and Joe Moorhead chose. They let Tyler Shough walk.

--These may turn out to be great decisions. There are plenty of reasons to be confident in Brown, Ty Thompson, Jay Butterfield and Robby Ashford. Moorhead surrounds them with a lot of talent at receiver and running back, and the offensive line should be improved after a full year to train and install the offense.

The Oregon defense should be one of the best in school history.

Many fans say that next year or the year after look better for a playoff run, but at the end of 2021, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Mykael Wright and C.J. Verdell may all be gone to the NFL draft. A year later, Noah Sewell. In 2022 the Ducks will likely have a first-year starter at quarterback.

There's always a reason to postpone hope or accountability. It's always a mistake to postpone them too long.

The Ducks have the most talent in the PAC-12. If they don't win ten games and the conference title, they've underachieved. If that happens, it may be time to ask whether the Ducks have hired a rising star or just a good recruiter with a lot of sincerity but subpar coaching skills.

Mario Cristobal is a good person and a good recruiter, but is he a top-tier coach? 2021 is the prove-it year.


  1. He has a lot to prove in game management, scoring enough points and beating the teams that he should. I am not sure he can solve all that this year, but he does need to show progress.

    I think 9 wins or lower won't go well with the fans this year.

  2. Whoever thought that 9 wins would be a disappointment for the Ducks? Most fans want to see a Natty but if the team consistently makes it to a major bowl game you should be considered a 'Blueblood' because you would be in the top 1% of all teams.

    1. Platy, as Duck fans we have never before experienced the rarified air of more than 50% blue blood players on the 85 scholly roster. I think this lack of oxygen has many of us giddy and light headed with high expectations.

  3. It's interesting, because the definition of Blue Blood is getting a major shakeup with Texas and Oklahoma set to join the SEC.

    You are right that 9 wins is a great season by historical standards at UO. I can remember when a bowl--any bowl-- and a winning season was a lofty goal.

    Expectations have ratcheted up after all the recent success, enormous investment in facilities and top recruiting classes. Now the Ducks are vying to become the Clemson of the West.

    If Anthony Brown and the offensive line gel, they could win their third conference championship in 2021. It's going to be an interesting year.

  4. I agree this is MC's team, and he needs to show improvement in those areas mentioned by Fishduck. If not,there will be grumbling. This is an important year, as I think NIL will change recruiting as we have known it. The transfer portal will become even more used as the promise of $$ will turn many heads.

  5. Joe Moorhead having a full year to install his offense and work with his quarterbacks, the offensive line having a full uninterrupted year with Aaron Feld should make a big difference. NIL, the transfer portal and realignment are as yet unknown quantities. College football is going through a seismic shift. I hope we can recognize the game in a couple of years.