As an astute Oregon fan, you know the story. Willie Taggart was hired as the new coach at the end of the 2016 season, and he brought a staff to Eugene that included current head coach Mario Cristobal as the offensive line coach, co-offensive coordinator and run-game coordinator. Taggart left to coach at his dream school, Florida State, and Cristobal was hired by Rob Mullens.
But as I was mentally replaying the tapes on this a few months back with Duck-Buddy and former FishDuck writer Mike Merrell, there were some aspects of the story that did not match up with what we know now about the parties involved. Taggart could sell, and he sold the recruits, the parents and all of us on what he could do. Unfortunately, it did not take him long to break his word, and many of us in the after-the-fact reflection admitted that we did not see the signs of the Taggarts’ (lack of) ethics until much later.
But Mario had to have known that up front.
This was a great point brought up by Mike. One thing we’ve all been sold on is Cristobal’s ability to read and understand people and the value he places on building trust and long-term relationships. That was not Taggart’s schtick, and Cristobal had to have known that immediately after spending time with Willie.
So why did Mario Cristobal come to Oregon? Was there a master plan that took into account the weaknesses of Taggart? Was there evil genius at work (a la Mike Meyers above)?
Did Coach Cristobal know that Taggart would either blow it in Eugene or that Taggart’s ethics and coaching (see Seminoles) would eventually come to the fore and open up an opportunity for Cristobal to fill the void? He was overwhelmingly endorsed by the players after Taggart left. Was there a purpose behind Cristobal’s significant relationship building with the team (even outside the offensive line) during Mario’s first year?
Knowing Taggart and knowing Cristobal … how could Mario have not known how it would all play out?
A regular in the comments, duckcardinal, proposed a different possible explanation for Cristobal’s move to Eugene that I had not considered. When Cristobal was named the top assistant coach recruiter in nation at the end of 2015, many probably thought “anybody can recruit to Alabama and Nick Saban.” Maybe Coach Cristobal came to the West Coast to prove that he could recruit anywhere he went, even in the more difficult Pacific Northwest.
Plausible, but I’m not buying it.
We will never know the answer, and I’m not sure I want to. I am just glad it worked out as it did and we can savor the best recruiting class ever with the 2021 LOI days coming up. We all love so much of what Mario is putting in place, and yet I also think about the risk of coming to Oregon with Slick Willie. C’mon, you know what I mean … Taggart is a NCAA recruiting violation waiting to happen, and that could have also put Cristobal’s career in peril due to his association.
That part of it is the biggest surprise to me. Yes, there was a big incentive for Mario to come west, but the risk with Mr. Fake Smile was significant, as well. It was either an incredibly gutsy or a brilliant move by Coach Cristobal.
I cannot imagine that Cristobal ending up as head coach for the Ducks was just a pleasant happen-stance, can you?
“Oh how we love to ponder about Our Beloved Ducks!”
Charles Fischer (Mr. FishDuck)
Top Photo by Gary Breedlove
Andrew Mueller, the FishDuck.com Volunteer Editor for this article, works in higher education in Chicago, Illinois.
Charles Fischer has been an intense fan of the Ducks, a season ticket holder at Autzen Stadium for 35 years and has written reports on football boards for over 23 years. Known as “FishDuck” on those boards, he is acknowledged for providing intense detail in his scrimmage reports and in his Xs and Os play analyses. He and his wife Lois, have a daughter Christine, reside in Eugene Oregon, where he was a Financial Advisor for 36 years and now focuses full-time on Charitable Planned Giving Workshops for churches and non-profit organizations.
He does not profess to be a coach or analyst, but simply a “hack” that enjoys sharing what he has learned and invites others to correct or add to this body of Oregon Football! See More…
For Football Season: FishDuck Back to Seven Days a Week!
I had to shut down the daily articles on July 20th because I could no longer work the extra 3 to 12 hours per week of certain managerial/editorial duties. (beyond the usual ones with FishDuck)
I’ve had a blast writing without those duties, and now, due to a new agreement with the writers, I can announce that we will have articles seven days a week again. I wish to thank the writers publicly for their graciousness in coming to a solution, as now I still do not have do those extra duties with our agreement, and meanwhile the writers are back having fun creating articles as I am.
Everybody is happy! So below is the new schedule through football season:
Monday: Mr. FishDuck
Tuesday: Darren Perkins
Wednesday: Joshua Whitted & Mr. FishDuck
Thursday: Coach Eric Boles & Alex Heining
Friday: David Marsh
Saturday: Mr. FishDuck (GameDay Baby!)
Sunday: Jordan Ingram
A couple of writers could not join us as they have new projects in their lives, and cannot write for anyone at the moment–but perhaps we will see them back later.
Things rarely work out so well for all parties in agreements, but this time it has and truly….everyone wins!
Our 33 rules at FishDuck can be summarized to this: 1) be polite and respectful, 2) keep it clean, and 3) no reference of any kind to politics. Easy-peasy!
FishDuck members….we got your back. No Trolls Allowed!