Did Mario Cristobal Nudge Coaches Out the Door?

David Marsh Editorials

Mario Cristobal is the Commander-in-Chief of Oregon Football. With this coaching style style, the determining factor of a team’s success or failure boils down to a few important decisions: effective coaching hires.

Cristobal has no problem firing a coach who isn’t a fit for the program as we saw when he fired Jim Leavitt. However, the firing of Leavitt came with a considerable price tag in the millions, which is never an easy pill to swallow, especially when Leavitt was given a raise the year prior.

Over the past couple of years, there have been two glaring problems: the offense not living up to its potential and an underwhelming receiving corps. Oregon had a solid quarterback in Justin Herbert, but some would say he failed to reach his full potential at Oregon. The offensive scheme and the overall lack of quality receivers not only held Herbert back, but also the team.

Jim Leavitt’s firing came with a great financial cost to Oregon.

Recently, offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo and wide receivers coach Jovon Bouknight left the program. In Arroyo’s case, he landed a job as a head coach at UNLV, which is a step forward for someone looking to advance their coaching career, while Bouknight landed as the receivers coach at Kentucky after a mutual parting of ways with Cristobal and the Ducks.

The offense under Arroyo wasn’t working. It had some spectacular moments, but on the whole it fell flat far too often and failed in elevating Herbert’s raw talent. It is convenient that Cristobal didn’t have to fire Arroyo as Oregon would have had to buyout the remainder of his contract, however, there was still a glaring need for an upgrade at offensive coordinator as an offense led by Arroyo would be incapable of achieving Cristobal’s ultimate goal, a National Championship.

Perhaps Arroyo’s convenient departure was assisted by Cristobal encouraging Arroyo to interview for head coaching jobs, which was an optimal time for Arroyo given the success of last season. In turn, Cristobal hired Joe Moorhead who is considered to be one of the best offensive minds in college football.

Marcus Arroyo before kickoff against Nevada.

Something similar can be said for Bouknight. The receivers did take a step forward in 2019 and there was something unusual about the timing of his departure from the program. Bouknight left Oregon rather abruptly,  as Oregon was only a couple practices into the spring. That is incredibly late in the coaching cycle for a coach to switch programs…

Cristobal followed up by hiring Bryan McClendon who came from South Carolina with a track record of being a strong recruiter from the SEC coaching mold. McClendon is exactly the type of coach that Cristobal wants. This is the second time this year that Cristobal gets a convenient opening in his staff with the opportunity to make an incredible hire and an upgrade, at least on paper.

Is it all a coincidence? Or, is Mario Cristobal nudging coaches out the door who aren’t the proper fit for the program, avoiding massive buyouts in the process?

David Marsh
Portland, OR
Top Photo By: Kevin Cline


Chris Brouilette, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is a current student at the University of Oregon from Sterling, Illinois.

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