Cristobal Rumblings: An Accurate Portrayal of Oregon for 2020?

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials 45 Comments

The blog Bear Insider published this article to preview each Pac-12 team, and it included some interesting comments about Oregon concerning the 2019 season and the upcoming 2020 campaign. I thought it would provide us some information about the other conference teams going into the season and some discussion points about Oregon’s prospects this fall. (I list their bullet points and then offer my reaction to their items in bold and italics.)

Looking at the Ducks in 2020


+ “A top ten national defense in 2019 returns nine starters and welcomes in three Five-star [sic] recruits …”
This is correct as the Ducks are a top-ten, if not top-five defense returning on many boards. We’ve never had this in Eugene before!

+ “The Ducks have put together back-to-back top ten nationally ranked recruiting classes and are loaded with elite, young talent.”
Actually the Ducks have had the best three years of recruiting classes in the row ever at Oregon. (An article about that was here.)

Kevin Cline

Jake Browning goes down … the Huskies at Autzen is always fun.

+ “The schedule is favorable with their toughest opponents — UW, USC, Ohio State and ASU all at home. Cal may well be their toughest road tilt.”
That is a very accurate statement, and makes the home schedule for viewing simply amazing. Usually the fans get one or maybe two huge games, but Ohio State, USC and Washington?  An Autzen paradise for fans if we have a season!

+ “The addition of new OC Joe Moorhead can provide a much-needed dynamism to Oregon’s offense.”
For some of us … that is a “no-kidding” kind of statement, while others feel that Marcus Arroyo was not appreciated enough.


– “There was a lot of staff turnover for the Ducks this off-season with grumblings about a toxic staff culture under HC Mario Cristobal.”
There will always be a lot of turnover when you are successful and while we don’t like it as fans — it is reality. A toxic culture?  Not what I’ve heard, although I’ve heard that Mario Cristobal is hard on assistants, as he expects them to recruit and work as hard as he does. Thoughts on this?

– “The offense loses Justin Herbert, their top two big-play receivers (one being their TE), and four starters along the OL. It will be a young and inexperienced group on that side of the ball.”
I feel pretty good about Anthony Brown (the Boston College transfer) and Tyler Shough at QB, but the offensive line replacement does not happen easily or seamlessly.  A very valid point IMHO.

Tom Corno

Using tight end Hunter Kampmoyer (No. 48) early in the Rose Bowl worked well. Big year for him in 2020?

– “Breaking in a new QB behind an inexperienced OL is generally not the recipe for success, especially when Ohio State, UW and Cal’s defenses are all in the 1st half of the schedule.”
Yikes. This to me is another very valid point, that perhaps can be off-set by the RPOs that Joe Moorhead is known for?  (Thoughts?)

– “How did the 2019 team with a stalwart defense, a first-round pick at QB and the nation’s best OL not make the playoff? Mario Cristobal may be the limiting factor in maximizing this team’s talent.”
This one is not going to go over well with many Oregon fans. I understand that when you have 17 of 22 starters returning with seniors such as Justin Herbert and Troy Dye, the reasonable goal can be the Playoffs. Yet to me, this team was mentally inexperienced at being in the top ten, and the two losses were part of both the players’ and coaches’ learning curves. (See the article about the mental growth here.)

Keep in mind that this was written by fellow fans on the Cal website, and they took a ton of time to research each team. It is a good summary with bullet points about the teams, and the article makes some great points and observations about what to watch for in 2020. As for the Oregon comments? Isn’t it is interesting to see how other fans in the conference view Oregon and the head coach?

“Oh how we love to ponder about Our Beloved Ducks!”

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo by Kevin Cline

P.S. We know about the Ohio State game change that occurred yesterday …

Andrew Mueller, the Volunteer Editor for this article, works in higher education in Chicago, Illinois.

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Douglas Mai

Well I certainly believe this team especially because of this great defense could win the NATTY. O Line shouldn’t have to much of a problem getting familiar with each other and after a couple games I wouldn’t doubt that this could be the best line in College. What is very depressing is that I really don’t know if Oregon ever gets it done now because of Covid.

If the season were to go away now then none of this great class is gonna sign because why. I mean Sewell, Thib’s would be eligible to go up to the NFL. Oregon has done so much to get where they are right now and this is not fair so I would think Charles you probably feel the same way as me. I just hope and pray they get a anti virus for this crap.

Just like the lady’s Basketball team I’m quite sure would have won it all and got robbed and I’m sorry South Carolina you wouldn’t have beaten our Duck lady’s. I also believe we get Foreman and I seriously don’t know if his 5 star buddy really want to play together because we’ve heard that scenario so many times and it hardly ever happens.

Foreman just needs to come because of Thib’s and Flowe and Sewell with Wright and all this other top flight talent we already have right now. Oregon really needs to win it all soon. Thank you Fishduck for such an awesome site. I actually believe you guys are the best one out there and I’d pay a monthly if you guys ever started doing that and stop giving my money to 247 who’s SEC biased anyways.

Red Eddy Green

Charles, is it OK to post this?comment image


Red Eddy – thanks for the cut and past.

Note the sources of their decision making “science” – narrow in scope, and all are State of Oregon public entities, riding comfortably through the economic chaos on taxpayers’ money, while apparently ignoring data from Europe and elsewhere that conflicts with their shelter & shutdown mindset. Just my opinion, of course, and their hands may be tied. I’m a scientist, not a lawyer.

For a few other thoughts regarding safety for college students in general, and athletes in particular:

The main point of this piece is that many/most college students/athletes would likely be safer on campus with quick access to testing, health care, and facilities for isolation than if they’d be living at home and going stir crazy. Existing facilities could be readily tweaked for the circumstances, if they haven’t already been so for whatever summer semester/early attendees have already arrived.


The data are absolutely clear, from Europe and elsewhere (including New South Wales, where my family and I reside- and where only 4 new cases were recorded today with a grand total of 51 deaths since the pandemic began in February. Other Australian states states, SA and WA now have zero cases).

So we know what works- both in theory and in practice:

To get and keep R (the viral reproduction rate) below 1 (so local clusters don’t grow exponentially) we close venues where disease is likely to spread. We employ social distancing (including targeted isolation and numbers restrictions on gatherings). We wear masks to inhibit spread.

As these suppression measures reduce the incidence of disease, we meticulously use contact tracing, testing and localised lockdowns to identify and control remaining hotspots. Eventually, COVID-19 can be functionally eradicated.

That has been the experience in East Asia, Australia and New Zealand and now, it appears in most of Europe. Progress hasn’t been uniform, but no country that’s managed suppression has gone back to uncontrolled spread.

Constrast that with the US and certain other countries where, among other things, there has been widespread misinformation and/or a failure of people and governments to ‘buy in’ to responsible, evidence based public health measures.

Red Eddy Green

They just mentioned on the news that Pac 12 pre-conference games are out.


There are three former Ducks coaching at Cal. Maybe they’re just jealous. ;)


Their comments about Coach Cristobal is interesting, for sure. They view the Oregon program from an entirely different perspective, and MAY also be colored slightly with an interest in “talking down” Oregon football in an effort to throw a little shade on Oregon’s recruiting. Nobody in the PAC-12 can like what Coach Cristobal is doing with the talent level here at Oregon.

David Marsh

The toxic culture thing I find is interesting … I don’t think Mario Cristobal is a good enough actor to be completely different in front of the camera than away from it. In every interview MC has been consistent in what he expects from players and coaches.

I believe that some coaches don’t gel with MCs culture. It sounds incredibly intense and I don’t think the majority of people could cope with it. I think we have seen several coaches move on in the past few years because they don’t fit the culture.

I don’t think Cristobal let’s a culture he doesn’t like develop… He has a personally that imposes a culture onto the program.

I think there is a reason why Oregon has had three wide reciever coaches in three years… Two left to go coach at other programs. I haven’t come across any public statements about why they left but I know the statement issue by Oregon about Blouknight leaving was that it was “mutual” which seems like there could have been a culture clash.

Leavitt was effectively fired because he either was pushing against the culture or at the very least not helping it.

I can see that the coaching culture at Oregon is intense beyond belief … But toxic feels like it is reaching for a storyline there.

Jon Joseph

Compared to the staff changes under Mario’s mentor, Saint Nick, the Oregon staff under MC is a model of stability.

Leavitt, at a key assistant position, basically fired himself and was replaced with a better guy.

The OC left for a HC gig and likely, was replaced by a better guy.

I think McClendon is an upgrade?

BTW, I doubt if you would see the recruiting results we are witnessing under Mario if the staff did not buy in.

No Ohio State game; bummer. I expect the Pac-12 will follow the lead of the B1G and play conference only games which will allow the season to start in mid to late October and if played through December, get the 2020 season in, in 2020.

Thanks for the interesting take Charles. Please send my 2 articles in reference to the Ohio State game in 2020, into the ether.

So, you’re saying there’s a chance? [SORRY!]


Could a truncated season open a window for expansion of playoffs…..? TV folks would be begging for content!


The only Rumblings I’ve heard about staff is about Prentice Gill. Gill was an analyst and took a position at ASU in early december(Some notes say he checked out in november to go to interview at asu). He is now the Wr’s coach there. Anyway their is apparently some frustration on his part because he wasn’t awarded the normal ring for teams winning conference championships and the Rose bowl.

I mean it is clear that Cristobal demands a lot of his staff but if it was really that bad we would see more high level staff taking their leave. joe salave’a is an excellent Dline coach and if he didn’t like the “management” could easily find work. The same goes for heyward, and mirabal. Also If the “management” was to much why would Rod Chance who was an analyst at oregon before going to minnesota come back to Oregon.

Jon Joseph

BTW, the ASU DC left for Syracuse. So, all is not perfect in the world of Herm.


I’m actually highly sceptical of Herm and ASU. They had a ton of turnover in this off season and it is about to lead to their worst recruiting class in ~4 years. You can’t expect to loss both coordinators and turn over about 70% of staff and expect recruiting to continue. Also herm hasn’t improved the team much since Graham and had a losing conference record last year even though they had a 1st round draft pick in Aiyuk. Add in losing Benjamin and returning the Worst Oline in the pac and I don’t think Herm has it put together. Lucky for them the whole season at this rate will be cancelled.

Jon Joseph

1thing for certain, we can’t keep the AZ HS studs at home.

David Marsh

Also the Oregon assisnt coaching are really not paid enough to stick around if they didn’t like the culture…. The new wide reciever coach Bryan McClendon was reportedly making around a mil a year at south Carolina and he isn’t make anywhere near that at Oregon.

Yes he is a new hire so he hasn’t been in the culture long… But everyone seems to know everyone in the coaching industry so if it was bad there’s a good chance a new coach to a program would know. Especially if they are taking a pay cut in the process.


Mclendon was the OC at Sc before being demoted to WR coach, The rumor is he was on his way out as SC didn’t have the money to pay a WR coach a million plus the salary of the OC but that still doesn’t distract that everyone knows everyone and if the staff was “Toxic” then he never would have made the trip to Eugene.


Terrific insights, Charles. Thank you.

Mike West

Very valid point about a new QB working behind a green OL.

Makes me wonder if physicality over strategy will be emphasized until experience solidifies the group. War of attrition early?

Too bad tOSU gets to stay home. They lost their entire front four themselves.

Man. What a waste of an opportunity.

I say salvage the season by playing Division matchups only. Play Conference a Championship games to determine NY6 and Playoff spots. Slot the rest of the bowls accordingly.

A five game Season for our conference, and most of the Group of Five, the Big 12 determines Divisions and maybe has a two round playoff. A six game season for the ACC, Big 10 and the ESECPN, and ND plays its ACC schedule.

Eight games tops. If they will be allowed to play them (Science!!!).

Nice analysis. But an abbreviated season is all we can realistically hope for. If even.

Why do I feel Oregon is cursed? If it isn’t momentum killed at the end of the first quarter in Jan 2011, to a decision to run inside instead of outside in the 4Q of that game, to a downed RB that got to run free, to a sack fumble nullified, to an interception disqualified.

Black Mamba misses a block that ruins a 90 yard TD that effectively ends Stanford’s upset before it starts.

Darren Carrington puffs before a mandated drug test in 2014, and Devon Allen tweaks his knee in the Rose Bowl.

And a promising season where the team has a shot to earn their stripes-especially against an elite team that also has to re-emerge…yes I believe the Ducks had a shot this year. The Kool-aid King has spoken.

Jon Joseph

I say, flush the playoff and in a ‘normal’ season play 1 OOC game and 11 conference games and crown a champ without a phony champ game. Or, the two top teams play in a champ game. Then have the Pac-12 champ play the B1G champ in the Rose Bowl.

But then again, every follicle of hair on my ancient, aging, bod is grey. (Sorry if that is too much information.)


On defense the only toxic culture at the coaching position was Leavitt and he was replaced with Avalos. Now if that didn’t take care of any toxic culture issues then I don’t know much about creating unity. Avalos took what Leavitt built and stepped it up.

On offense there may have been some issues with Arroyo, but again we stepped it up with Moorhead.

The outcomes on recruiting don’t show a toxic culture, just anything but that. Kids are coming because of the family atmosphere and competitive environment. Maybe the authors were talking about a competitive environment being toxic. I’ll take that environment and outcome anyday!

David Marsh

I never heard about the dinner thing…. I can see how that also builds the “family” feeling pretty much EVERY recruit talks about with Oregon.


Great read Charles.

Pushing people to be excellent takes a person that is also as hard on themselves as they expect on others. Many of the readers here know this exists in all professions. Though personally, I think you cannot expect everyone to be as “good as Gretzky or Jordan” when it comes to your expectations of them, you need to lead by the example you want them to follow. I have zero problems with MC being who is is to get the best out of his assistants. Those that see the model of success and desire the fruits of the hard “10,000 hour” labour will come to appreciate it all in the long run. MC learned this from Saban and others. Saban learned this from those before him. In addition, I am pretty sure Bill B never sits around expecting others to work less hard than he does. When your assistants work just as hard or harder than you, it becomes easier to entrust them to increasingly difficult tasks and responsibilities. When they become trustworthy members of your team, then if they fail you know they tried with everything they had or could.



Definitely some good stuff to ponder, always nice to get a look from a different perspective. The “Toxic culture” is one that I can’t buy in to, and not to cast aspersions on the Cal Website, but it sounds, “Huskyish” I agree that Morehead will offset the “green” of our OL & QB situations.

I see the NDS game as being a great opening game, even more so if Ohio State was to follow; the Bison are a team that deserves respect and thus would be better prep for the Buckeyes than a less challenging opponent would be…and this leads me to the ASU game.

I don’t now, nor immediately after, see the loss to the Sun Devils as a case of Cristobal not having the players ready. I see it more as just Oregon 2019 falling in with every other season of every other team in the Pac-12 of not running the table in conference play.

I won’t put it on the players. One play does not a loss make. But 3rd & 16 comes close. Lenoir got burned, by a very talented receiver in Aiyuk and a QB, Daniels, who was in a “zone” that Damian Lillard would envy.

Some good maybe came out of it though. Lenoir talked later of that play being one that he would use in the future; to just make a tackle, get off the field. Part of the learning curves that Charles wrote about.

I think the CAL coaching staff = the Berkeley chapter of the Oregon Alumni Association. Interesting that 3 of the top Golden Bears coaches bubbled up from the toxicity that is Eugene.

A clueless take if there ever was one.


As for Coach Arroyo, thanks for his contributions, but I appreciate him moving on and out of the way of the offense.

About Coach Cristobal, the path to the top is rough. Coach has a vision and blueprint. About turnover, it is natural. Usually a program retains some of the values and learnings from the one who left and builds upon that with new approaches hopefully from an even stronger coach. Two thoughts come to mind here. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Either Lead, Follow, or get out of the way.

In Coach Cristobal I trust. Go Ducks!

Santa Rosa Duck

Well they are allowed their thoughts and it is nothing too radical. The rumor of yesterday that the Big10 would shut down to only conference play has come true so there will not be an Ohio State game, at least not as scheduled. The entire state of Hawaii is still quarantined. That probably cuts out the Hawaii game. NDSU? The season is starting to look bleak.

I think it is to buy time for the virus to burn out and I expect the Pac-12 will follow suit.


Done. SEC still holding their cards.


Very interesting Charles, and yes I agree Isn’t it is interesting to see how other fans in the conference view Oregon and the head coach?”

I wonder why North Dakota State did not make the Bear Insiders list of toughest opponents ?? Hopefully we will get a chance to see about this one. (I do reconize that I am in a minority with this belief of NDS.)

The Bear Insider mentions a “toxic staff culture under HC Mario Cristobal”. This is the first I’ve heard that term “toxic” used and see it as a very negative term. I think they went a little overboard with it.

I agree with you that Joe Moorhead should off-set some of the young and inexperienced groups like the OL, TE, and QB, but only to a certain extent.

The Bear Insider may have a valid point about mental preparedness of the team. I also felt that was a shortcoming of Mario Cristobal in 2019 and we can not put this on the players as it is one of the biggest things a HC has to do for a team. Get them ready for and keep them mentally in the game.

A fun article Charles, thanks for it.

Jon Joseph

We are not going to see tOSU; I very much doubt that we see NDSU and Hawaii.