Were they Watershed Losses for the Team, the Fans or CRISTOBAL?

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials 131 Comments

Everyone is still reeling from unexpected losses to opponents that most would place in the bottom half of the conference. I actually wonder if the team truly understands the spot they are in, because for many of us Greybeard-age fans, this is a watershed moment. It is now that thousands of fans are “checking out until next fall” and losing confidence in Coach Mario Cristobal. While the defensive problems reign supreme, I wish to address the Oregon offense and an area that most would consider untouchablethe culture.

I came unglued when I was listening to a radio broadcast reporting on a recent Cristobal press conference before the game with Washington State. Coach Cristobal explained that the Cougars were a unique challenge because their offense “stretched you horizontally from sideline-to-sideline.” I was yelling at the radio, “that is what you are supposed to be doing with a Spread Offense! You spread them out to run the ball!”

Karl Maasdam of OSU Athletics

Playing in a Phone Booth?

What is Oregon DOING on Offense and WHY?

Cristobal’s comments beg the question….why are we in a Spread Offense? If we are not going to utilize the benefits of the Spread, then why take a snap four yards back? Why not run a Pro-Style Offense snapping from under center and using a fullback for the power offense Cristobal wants to run? Many teams in the conference are doing that now (including Washington in a big way), and while it is not what I want to see–there seems to be complete confusion as to the objective on offense. What is Oregon’s system?

Cristobal wants to run a power-game and thus crowds the players together in a Pistol formation that makes it easier to defend; why not run a formation and offense better suited for your goals on offense? Although if you truly want to spread them out–I know a playbook of Shotgun plays that have been proven to work at this university and now so many others. In carpentry terms, “he is using the wrong tool for the job.” Cristobal does not have the playbook of tactics to truly run a ball-control offense such as what we have seen on this site.

We were told when Cristobal took over that ”Oregon will do what we did before, only be tougher in the trenches.” If that was true, we would be averaging 44 points a game instead of 34, and we may not have lost either contest this year. Cristobal has not delivered what he promised, and frankly I see no trendline of change. His offense is a mish-mash, a mess of what he wants and what OC Joe Moorhead knows. (Coach Moorhead never ran the Pistol before he came to Oregon; all of his offensive success was out of the Shotgun). The Pistol Plunges are neither entertaining nor effective. Oregon’s offensive system–whatever it may be–is not even beating the .500 teams in the conference. And I don’t think Cristobal sees that he is the problem.

Karl Maasdam of OSU Athletics

How could the Beavers play more inspired than the Ducks?

What if it is the WRONG CULTURE?

I know, a truly blasphemous thing to write at Oregon, especially when we all have been big fans of the excitement and culture Cristobal has created. However, I was stunned at Mario’s press conference after the loss to Oregon State and during prep week for Cal. Cristobal explained he directed the team to return to their roots, to what they were about … and that was being tough.

I could not believe my ears.

That is your major priority? Toughness is your number one concern? Toughness is the secret to winning games?

What about giving it all on the field? How about prioritizing effortgiving 110%–because that is what the less-talented Beavers and the Bears won with? How about execution, devotion to your craft? How about techniquegetting your footwork right, your hand placement correct and your mental discipline instilled to avoid dumb penalties? But no, his No. 1 priority is being tough? Remember how Chip Kelly loved playing and beating coaches who thought that way when he was at Oregon?

Tom Corno

Running outside is easier in the Shotgun, and it opens up more running lanes!

Good gosh Mario, get your head out of the 1940’s, or least run an offense that matches your objectives! Better yet, how about we return to the true roots of the Oregon Brand, a full Shotgun Offense and what got us to two ‘Nattys? How about doing what you said you would do and running Spread Offense plays to match a Spread formation to complement your toughness in the trenches?

These losses and these things I am hearing are very, very disconcerting to this 34-year season ticket holder and Oregon fanatic. Please note I did not dream up issues or throw a Straw-Man strategy at Coach Cristobal. I simply examined his own words to arrive at my conclusions.

Unless things dramatically change, I do not believe Cristobal can take us to the promised land.

Change my mind. Please.

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo by Fox Video

Phil Anderson, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is a trial lawyer in Bend Oregon.



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Duck out of Water

I really wish shough would pull the ball!!


All I can say is Coach Cristobal still wants to be able run down the opponent’s throat and it really hasn’t worked since he took over. Give up the pistol. Go with the spread offense and then run game happen! Let Coach Moorehead run the offense.!




I really think Cristobal is still learning as a head coach, and his mindset reminds me of Nick Saban’s for years at Alabama. The culture of toughness is something needed, and I agree with his assessment that they should return to that identity.

They lost a TON of leadership this year, and they really haven’t looked like a congealed team. Of course, this could be due to the incredibly strange circumstances surrounding the season. I think Cristobal is really trying to instill the spirit of Troy Dye into this team that inherited his success, but never got the culture training it needed before the season started.

I think Cristobal has his eye on next year, and what it will take to compete at an elite level next season.


I am grateful that the “CLEAR!” “ZAP” thing worked and I was revived. They have to use that darned thing on my heart every time I hear/read the name Sarkisian listed in the same sentence as our beloved Ducks. Please, God. I am an old man, and I know things. I would rather run a dive play out of the pistol on third and seven for the next 20 years than have that piece of… (play nice Duckpop)…associated with the Oregon program.

That said, I would love to be a fly on the wall in the offense meetings. Does M.C. beat J.M. on the head with a stick and threaten him with private and personal photos? I thought we were shooting for innovative rather than pedantic and predictable. Charles’ musings are much the same as mine about the future. The bloom is off the rose. Am I ready to look in another direction? Ask me again in one year. Unless the “CLEAR,” “ZAP” thing didn’t work.


Somehow I think you need this meme.

comment image



Farmer Duck

Watching Ducks growing pains can be frustrating as a fan. I scream at the TV for Cristobal not to run off tackle three times in the fourth quarter just like everyone else. But overall I think we have a pretty good thing going with Mario and am willing to give him time.

Jumping on the coaching carousel is as dicey a move an AD can make and I don’t see that many better candidates out there that we could swap out for.

The model I look towards is Dabo Swinney. Clemson stuck with him for years as he built the program to the point it is considered a powerhouse. A lot of those years were not particularly great.

But he slowly learned how to build a team of coaches, many who have stayed with him for years, and a culture that produced the kind of in it to win it mentality that we want to have.

One thing Mario and Dabo has in common is they are both fantastic recruiters. This is the foundation of long term success. Without a steady flow of consistently high performing athletes a team cannot hope to be a regular contender.

The historic high level of recruiting exhibited by Mario is enough for me to give him quite a bit of time to refine his craft as a coach/ceo. Eventually, I hope, he will grow out of his stubborness and mature into the kind of coach that trusts the high quality assistants that he can bring in.

Throw in the kind of quality guy he appears to be and the positive feeling of the Duck culture, and I’m fine with riding this train for several more years. Not happy with his game management, hate the pistol, yada yada, but just got to believe he is smart enough and motivated enough to endeavor to grow and learn his craft.

This is such a throwaway year with all the missed time and constant changes and pressure from covid. Add in a very young team without the veteran leadership they desperately need. College kids need that spark from someone within. Not the first time the Ducks have gone flat because of inadequate leadership. But next year I think we will see growth in that area from Shough, Sewell, and others.

Right now most concerned about keeping the band together without losing valuable assistants, like Big Joe or Mo Joe to the coaching carousel. Putting together and keeping together a strong staff, ala Dabo at Clemson, is super important. Losing the DB coach set that positon group back this year, while bringing in a strong receivers coach turned that group around into outstanding play makers. Another strong Mario trait is identifying coaching talent. Hope he can talk them into to sticking around,

Go Ducks!

ps As far as the Duck Women BB team: Just wow! Ok maybe yeeeeow, too.


I should have read your comment before posting above! I agree 100%


I have read your comments and feel there are a lot of informed fans out there. Charles’ article is absolutely right. One thing he did not touch on that I have observed is a lack of effort by some members of the football team. While watching the team this year the voice of Vince Lombardi would echo in my head. ” Everyone is grabbing out there and no one is tackling “. If you watched the secondary tackle, or try. They were more interested in pulling the ball out than getting the player on the turf. This allowed them to break tackles and gain more yards. The effort this year could have been much better.


I once called Mario the Clay Helton of the north.

My apologies to Clay Helton.

Thats all I have to say as everyone has pretty much summed up my feelings on the subject.

Jon Joseph

$21M for Auburn to kiss Gus Malzahn goodbye. You’ve got to love amateur athletics.

Jerry Palm’s Bowl Projections for the Pac-12

Fiesta – SC vs Indiana
Alamo – UW vs Iowa State
Armed Forces – CU vs Mississippi State

Independence – Oregon vs Army. This game is scheduled to be played in Shreveport, LA on 12/26/20. This is a ‘reward’ for Oregon? I think Oregon will lose $ if it plays in this game? And I’m not enthralled about having to watch the Ducks D go against the Army run game. I say thanks but no thanks.


Independence bowl! Now we might sneer a little about the game, but assuming someone is paying for the TV rights and they are hurting for bowl games to show, maybe not. Bite the bullet and put everyone in Motel 6, which can’t be that expensive in Shreveport.

Along with many Fishduck contributors no doubt, I remember the ’89 Independence bowl well, if for no other reason than it was my second year on campus and it was the first Oregon bowl in 26 years. Those of us who really remember that era can appreciate how times have changed, right?

As I recall from news back at the time, Oregon had to guarantee a certain number of ticket sales, so they bought 5000 tickets or something and never sold them all, meaning they probably did lose money back then. The thought was – another bowl might not come around for a few more decades if they passed up on this one, so spend a little money to build the program. Or so my memory says. If that’s true, I think it worked out well. That year it was the Tulsa Golden Hurricane – who I had never heard of in my life. Nor had I heard of Shreveport.

And speaking of Auburn, as FGLumber mentioned, I have seen several articles now putting MC as the second choice for the Auburn job. If they decide to pursue him, I have no doubt they will be able to double whatever our AD can put on the table, since evidently Auburn grows money on trees.

If so, we can continue our discussion about MC and his offensive philosophy by watching what happens to him in the SEC!


Jon Joseph

Double? At the very least.

Mario can recruit to Eugene; to Auburn?

But my guess is that Auburn will turn to Hugh Freeze? The Tigers AD has to know that Malzahn had success against Saban because of his O and not the D. And Freeze is every bit the equal of Gus as an O coach, and also has 2 wins versus Nick.

The fact that Hugh was a pay for play guy at Ole Miss? Come on Man, this is the conference where if you’re not cheating you ain’t trying.

Regardless, I very much doubt the Auburn AD will hire him without a serious discussion regarding the OC and hands off the OC?

Sark also has to be in play here.


I think I agree with all of what you say regarding Feeze and Sark, but I do think MC is in the discussion as a second/third choice or whatever.

As for worries about the OC and offense, I would like to think that a school willing to throw so much money around to win national championships (other than beating Alabama every year, I figure that’s the bottom line at Auburn) would do “due diligence” about aspects like that. But as a casual fan, I have seen so many times coaching hires where it does not really seem like that diligence has been done.

A little billionaire group of donors like MC’s press conferences and recruiting chops, it could happen. They likely do not read the discussion on FishDuck, although they should!

Not predicting it will happen, but interesting to think about anyway.


My husband was at the Independence Bowl in ’89, one of two chem professors who went with the team to proctor exams they had to take while there. That was the game that was so cold, and Jerry Allen, in an open booth at the top of the stadium almost froze!


It sounded cold, miserable, and not exactly like the place you would like to go for fun as a college athlete on a bowl trip. It also seems like the beginning of 50 thousand oddly named bowl games and the end of the era when going to a bowl game meant something other than finishing around .500 – maybe I’m wrong about that impression.

I hope I did not fall asleep in your husband’s class, but I can’t guarantee it!


We did not attend the ‘89 Poulin Weed-eater Independence Bowl but we purchased tickets to help buy Oregon’s way in. That year’s team went 6-5, a huge achievement. Our young family gathered around the TV and were thrilled to be watching our Ducks play in a real post season game. At the we thought that was something we might never see again.

Now, here we are grumbling about one mediocre season and if I’m reading these comments correctly, seriously thinking the coach who just helped guide us to a Rose Bowl last year, is recruiting top 10 classes, and to my knowledge is of high moral character should be replaced. Replaced because we don’t like a formation or series of plays. Replaced by someone like Sark, really Jon? I believe in second chances which Saban has graciously extended. However, I would rather worry about Mario’s offensive abilities than Sark’s addictive and offensive behaviors.

Jon Joseph

Rose Bowl win last year, nice. But it was a 1 point win over a 3L team that was beat down twice by Ohio State.

Only 3 teams in the Pac-12 had 8 or more wins last season. The Ducks won its bowl by 1 and the other 2 were blown out.

My apologies, but I don’t see a non-playoff RB these days as that big of a deal. I just watched my tape of the chargers game. And I came away convinced that much of JH’s talent was wasted and the 2019 team with an excellent D should have, not could have, gone 12-0.

Lots of people with alcoholism rebound. Have you watched Alabama’s O this season? The great play calling?

BTW, Mario is a 2nd chance guy. Given a shot by Saban to coach at Bama after being fired as a HC.

It doesn’t matter. No way is Mullens letting Mario go and hiring Sark. And, I hope this turns out to be for the best.


All valid points and rational critiques of human frailty and perhaps over valued accomplishments regarding Sarks recovery and Mario’s success. I have watched Alabama this year and I agree the play calling is great. I would add one caveat, when you have an offensive line of Alabama’s quality playing calling is much easier.

Like you, I’m hoping for the best from Mario and this staff. My biggest fear, and this comes from growing up in Eugene during the dark days of the program, is we let a coach go too soon and spend years regretting it.

Jerry Frie had things rolling, but for some reason couldn’t beat the Beavers. He got the boot and things fell apart. They didn’t just fall apart, they got crazy. Anyone remember the Don Reed experiment?

Mario reminds me an awful lot of Rich Brooks; the good and the bad. Rich never saw a dive play he didn’t like and loved the power I formation even when there was no power. But corny as it sounds his theme was “Respect, Demand it” (I still have the cap with that slogan under the Oregon logo).

That was a laughable statement to those outside the program at the time. But slowly, with a Reggie Ogborn here, a Chris Miller there, and then Kenny Wheaton it turned around.

Sure Phil and Penny Knights’ largesse is a huge factor. But if Brooks had been let go, like the majority of fans called for, the ‘94 Rose Bowl would not have happened and the private donations would not have begun to grow.

So, there you have it, my observations from almost six decades of following Duck athletics. I love the game of football and follow the trends but I only have one team I care about and donate to faithfully. To me the Ducks are truly the only game in town.

So, after all that verbiage, I agree this has been an exasperating and disappointing season, Mario is a work in progress. I recommend patience and perhaps a sense of gratitude for what the Ducks have accomplished over the long haul. Considering where they were, that’s some accomplishment to be respected.


Speaking of Don Reed, his time at Oregon was too early for me to remember, but when I played high school ball, I overlapped with his last two years at PSU. We’d go over to ‘Civic Stadium’ to practice once or twice a week, since it was only a block away and we had to share our limited field space with the soccer team (which was much better than our football team in those years.)

We’d get about a quarter of the space for our practice, and PSU had the rest. Several times, when our coaches had the team get together for the Oklahoma drill, the Portland State coaches would send a platoon of their players over to make a semi-circle around us and start shouting, clapping, hooting, swearing, and otherwise giving football-style encouragement.

One of my fond memories of my brief football career and of Reed! I also remember thinking even though those guys are Division II, they are a hell of a lot bigger than we are.

Jon Joseph

That will be Motel 6 with The Waffle House next door.


I was there, I froze, and I had the greatest time watching the clock run out. The team coming over after to acknowledge the fans made it all worthwhile. It wouldn’t be the same this year but back then it was the kickoff to an amazing run of successes. Thanks Rich Brooks, Mike Bellotti and Bill Musgrave and the rest of the flock. As an aside, the one thing that the concession stands sold was “Turkey Legs”…great big ones.


I think every football concession stand should sell turkey legs. Especially in the winter.


This is like so many things in business. There are so many strategies that have been proven to work over time, that you can almost choose anyone of them and succeed. However….

…You must commit. Just as Charles pointed out, MC is trying to straddle what he wants to do with what Joe (and the fans) want him to do. This will be a critical offseason of self evaluation for MC. Either run a real smash mouth offense, or let Joe be free to run what he (and the fans) want.

We could be successful running smash mouth, (but not much fun to watch), but I don’t think we have the stable of backs (big enough) to execute that style.

Here is hoping that MC goes to the mountain top and comes back down and hands the O key to Joe.


To run smash mouth you need players 3 deep, and if you could would you really like that style in the PAC?

Jon Joseph

AMEN. To be successful in CFB today you have to be an effective CEO delegator and not a micro-manager.


Interesting that Perkins is still active on Duck related social media.


The problem I see here, going back to the beginning of the season, is the perception of how good the team was and is this season and what to expect from them. From the beginning of the season, this team, even before the opt-outs, should have been seen as a team in a rebuilding year. A new quarterback, a totally new offensive line and a decimated due to injury tight-end corps.

We have the youngest team in any power five conference. And with the opt-outs a totally new defense. I agree with those that are frustrated by the offensive scheme and the pistol. But let’s understand that next season we will have an experienced offensive line and a quarterback with a season under his belt, although shortened as it was.

And our defense will also have jelled having played together. Hopefully we will start next season with a healthy team in all positions. I believe our heightened expectations then will be justified.


Agree and the qb has a huge impact on the team. Shough was shaky and the team reflected this. I can get behind him as he improves over the coming seasons, but his play can be directly reflected onto our outcomes.

Cristobal’s play calling could have also been mitigated with better qb play. Cristobal needs great qb play, to help offset his tendencies.


As we watch Herbie in the NFL light it up, what if he had been running a true spread offense last year and allowed to go fast… Much different season and potential for Heisman

Jon Joseph

Really? Including winning at Ohio State?


The Ducks are the reigning PAC-12 Football and Rose Bowl champions. With the youngest roster in Power 5 football, shortened and spring and summer camps and the plethora of league and COVID-19 obstacles challenging every day of the 2020 season, Ducks Football under Mario Cristobal continues to build a monstrous program.

The coaching staff, with the exception of Mastro and Williams, is outstanding. Mastro is wedded to the Pistol. Charles and others have dissected and flogged Mastro’s version of the Pistol.

Williams, I don’t know the details, but Special Teams don’t seem to have our best athletes on the field, there is disorganization lining up, penalties and few game changing plays from the Special Teams. Kicking has been a liability over the past few years.

I have great confidence in Coach Cristobal as Head Coach, Joe Moorhead as OC, and Andy Avalos as DC. It would be a setback to lose any of them.

Back to the design and scheme of the offense, I believe that Moorhead will put his hand and stamp on it next year and beyond. His phone is ringing, so I hope he likes Eugene and Oregon, working with Coach Cristobal, and he realizes the special opportunities ahead with the roster and recruits.

Coach Avalos lost his line and veteran leaders. I view Coach Avalos as a tactician, teacher and great coach. Next year’s defense will record massive improvements over this year’s dismal performances.

The QB’s will again be young, but the group is loaded with talent and developing. One will emerge as “the one”.

The receiver corps is good in 2020 and will be even better in 2021.

The RB’s are improved, however I expect a shakeout with new faces, plays and more two-back sets ahead.

WUNY (Wait Until Next Year). The Offense will fly, if the COVID disaster is soon overcome.

If the U.S. is still bogged down with COVID in April, and it again interferes. with Spring practice, then all bets are off.

Jon Joseph

IHYAR? I hope you are right, my friend? But in all honesty, I believe you are hoping against Hope?

As Charles so noted, this is not Mario’s 3rd year as an HC, it’s his 7th.

I’m sorry, but do not give up 22 points in the 4th Q vs the Beavers and do not get shut out in the 2nd half versus CAL, the Ducks is playing for a title. Both of these results are frankly inexplicable.

Every team in the country has had to deal with COVID issues this season. Every team had truncated practices, Not every team failed to show up against lesser opponents.

But again, IHYAR?


I agree 100%.

At first I was willing to give the Ducks a pass but the more I thought about all the $$ and hype thrown at our team- then to lose to the Beavers and Cal–

Something is not right in Duckville.

Jon Joseph

You are what the record says you are. Anything else is an excuse.

CAL was affected more by COVID than was Oregon. Oregon State also experienced COVID woes,

CAL shut out the Ducks in the 2nd half, OR ST put 22 points on the Ducks in the 4th quarter.

But THIS is not on the coaches? OK.




Rumor out of Alabama is since Malzahn has been fired that Mario C is one of their top prospects to rerom an Auburn grad friendfplace him. That

With a true frosh QB squaring off against the NFL rookie of the year.


The questions are most certainly justified especially after the baffling loss to a mediocre Cal team. Nonetheless, I’m still a Cristobal supporter. He’s done a terrific job recruiting, but we have yet to see the full fruits of those efforts. Truth is we’re beginning to sound like USC football fans or UCLA basketball fans. You don’t win ’em all every year and sometimes stuff happens. Give him another two years and if things don’t improve then it’s time to start looking.

Spot on regarding Bruce’s post and spot on for stating THE FACTS! This is Mario’s 7th season as an HC; this is not fake news.


If all a college coach did was decide what plays that the team should run, then I could agree with what is stated.. However, after watching Helfrich, an offensive-minded coach, run the program into the ground. It is obvious to me that scheme means nothing without outstanding players.

I am really not buying into the argument that you can take a bunch of “average players”, coach them up, and win a National Championship. Head coach Chip Kelly certainly is not dominating the PAC 12 right now with “average players”.

I see what you see as well…but, I also think Cristobal and his recruits will win more games than Chip Kelly and his ability to recruit at UCLA. Will either win a National Championship?

With a choice between those two…I take Cristobal. It appears to me that he has more upside potential.


Now there’s the Understudy Bowl, with Oregon and Colorado getting a game in L.A. as a consolation prize for waiting in the wings to see if Washington or USC can’t make up a roster. It just keeps getting more and more oadd.

Could it end up being the champ game?

If UW can’t go and SC can the Ducks play SC for the title, right?

CU lost a key player when LB Landsman went down against Utah.


I’m looking desperately at the potential upside of a final game for the 2020 season. I don’t expect there will be much interest in a bowl game given the momentum of the lockdown culture, so whatever happens in LA next week might well be the season finale.

At least one last chance to wash the bad taste out our mouths from being shut out in the 2nd half of the Cal game, and allowing the Beavs to beat us by scoring 22 points in the 4th quarter.

One last chance to seal the deal on the mental images of where UO is headed with our 2021 recruiting class, who have seen what we’ve seen the last two weeks.

I’m not holding my breath for a miracle unshackling of Moorhead’s offensive potential, similar to what happened in 2019 between our lackluster Civil War performance (it was still called that, then) and the Pac12 Championship when The Herbert was unleashed to run. Just a return to the best elements and play calling that we saw in our first couple games of 2020.

Oh please Santa, let it happen!


In the game that Washington did play on Saturday, the Oregon men’s basketball team beat the Huskies for the 5th straight game in Seattle, 74-71. Chris Duarte’s block of a Huskies shot with 17 seconds left was the key. It was definitely an “ugly win”.

The Ducks are getting another player, 6’10 Frank Kepnang will join the team next week.

The schedule for next week is set, and It’s Washington @ USC for the Championship for now. But if Washington isn’t cleared, Oregon will go instead, but not necessarily as the North Winner. So, Oregon could end up winning the conference championship, but not its division.

Jon Joseph

‘Not necessarily as the North Winner’ but representing the North in the championship game?

What in the hell kind of champ game is that? SC takes the L and still gets to play in the Fiesta Bowl?

Nothing but pride on the line for the Ducks and a scrimmage for SC?

THIS is right in Larry’s wheel house.


At this point I would not wish USC on the Ducks. Would only be a laughable situation in the eyes of the nation and future recruitment.


good point, however – – –

Jon Joseph

Step up and compete? Yes, that would be nice.


Your always feeding us great links, 30Ducks

Thanks for them.

Santa Rosa Duck

I just do not see this season has a season to judge either our team or our head coach. Too many opt outs, transfers. I think we will find out what we have in the 2021 season as to our team and coaches.

Nice to see our DUCKS knock off the Huskies in basketball yesterday although it was a bit of a squeaker.

Yes, for as much as we can do as fans, let’s not make any rash decisions. But so far, over the course of time Mario’s been here, I think we’ve just called it as we see it. The Ducks lead the conference in Total Offense. But we know the Ducks don’t have the best offense in the conference.

Whether the Beavers win or lose their game this weekend, Beaver Nation will be beaming. 2020 will be a momentum builder going in to 2021. There is a huge gap between the two programs that account for that from Oregon State, and for much of Ducks fans to just get football over with.

Jon Joseph

OK, I agree. Does Mullens? Will he wait another season, if he is in Eugene and not Athens, Georgia, to bump Mario’s salary, give him an extension and a bigger buy out?

I expect CU will drop out of the rankings? If so and if Oregon plays CU in LA, that’s a game away from Autzen vs an unranked opponent. In its last 4 road games vs unranked opponents the Ducks is 1-3.

There’s another choice? IMO Charles, you are Waiting for Godot?


Just hire Scott Frost. He knows the culture and is definitely going to get fired from Nebraska lol…


Frost doesn’t like UO as he finds it hard to recruit talent to UO. He was also my choice to follow as HC of the Ducks when Chip moved on, but that just didn’t work out.

Jon Joseph

Man, Frost could have had the Florida job? He had a much better roster at UCF than he now has at Nebraska.

Jon Joseph

Charles, but?

In this COVID-crazy season how about the ultimate whipped cream on horse bleep?

UW does not have enough healthy guys to play USC in the Pac-12 Champ Game? Enter Oregon. Ahead of USC by 3 with 50 seconds left. And with 12 seconds left, SC, 4th and goal, Oregon’s Pickett intercepts Slovis’ pass in the end zone!

Ducks at 3-3, is the Pac-12 champ and heads to the Fiesta Bowl!


GIMME 5! I went 5 for 5 yesterday, putting me at 28-14 ATS for the season.

Iowa getting points at home vs Wisky, was the lock of the season. The UNC at Miami and UGA at Missouri game results both easily covered the Over. BTW, record for Mack Brown’s Tar Heels team with 2 RBs rushing for a collective 554 yards. And JT Daniels? Did Mario try to keep this guy on the Left Coast?

Auburn covered at The Pirate’s Place and Tennessee covered at Vandy. A historic game with the Commodores FG kicker, Sarah Fuller, making 2 extra point attempts and becoming the first women to put up points in a P5 football game. BTW, Sarah is the goalie and not a forward, for the Commodores’ women’s soccer team.

THIS is my watershed moment against the Wise Guys in Vegas. And I am gratified with making the ‘experts,’ Galloway and the Bachelor’s virtual lock picks, look like virtual nots.

I was looking forward to authoring a point spread weekly article on FishDuck. Unfortunately, family obligations will not allow me to do so for the balance of 2020. I’d like to thank Charles for giving me the opportunity. Like the Ducks football team, maybe next year?

Jon Joseph

Sayonara Sumlin!

Too bad Butch Jones has signed on to be the HC at Arkansas State. I think he would have been a great hire for Arizona.

Jon Joseph

WOW! THAT I did not see coming. Hugh Freeze back in the SEC? Show me the $$$$$$$.


I tend to think Big Duck has hit upon something. What we have is a battle brewing over what the Oregon Offense is going to become, under the Cristobal era. In one corner is Cristobal’s instincts, the other corner is Moorhead’s scheme, along with Oregon’s history, and somewhere in a closet, the pistol.

We often have no idea what is happening internally. If the offense is untenable to us, I can only believe it is unacceptable to the guy who is the specialist and wants to get another head coaching job. Cristobal’s instincts are also an obvious flaw, and will continue to be throttled down.

The first sign of the change, we all want to see, will be the pistol coming out of the closet, where it should have stayed, and heading to some other program. Mastro, quietly, deciding to take another job will be the Christmas gift we all want to see, and hopefully we will see.

The next step is Moorhead taking control of the offense. A discussion where Moorhead either quietly takes another job, or takes fuller control is bound to happen. The guy was a head coach, and an extremely successful offensive coordinator. I hope he stays, but I can’t see him staying with the force of Cristobal’s instincts so strong in the play calling realm.

The last item is the whole toughness focus of Cristobal. I don’t think that is going to change. Cristobal will always lead with just be tough, much like slick’s do something mantra.

That mantra is going to evolve into toughness being smart, while executing with precision too. Most of this has to happen, or we are doomed to be an also ran, with a lot of talent, and that is not where Oregon’s legacy was headed.

Jon Joseph

I wonder if Moorhead is on the radar to take over the Arizona HC job?


At this point, our magic with OC’s becoming amazing Head Coaches, may be broken. You have to believe that was, in large part, a major reason Arroyo was hired. We aren’t the amazing offensive force we once were, and the hiring of our OC’s may come to an end, for a while. Agree Moorhead may want to leave and Arizona may look at his past performance and give him a shot.

Jon Joseph

Compared to the Pirate, JM had it cooking in Starkville.

I think he has evolved, he didn’t call any really bad timeouts this year. He also let Moorhead run more of his offense this year, as stated this is all opinion, based on feelings.

All we can do is hope and envision change. The contract is coming and Cristobal is our man.

I like your article and Jon’s take, but I can’t give up on Cristobal. Saban evolved, Cristobal can evolve.

Jon Joseph

As Charles so aptly noted, Moorhead had the pistol holstered before arriving in Eugene. ‘Let Moorhead run more of the O? Maybe, But certainly not enough.

Why pay Moorhead a $1M+ a year and hang still hang in as the OC?

Not that long on the evolutionary scale of things. I’d feel better if I did not believe Mario is taking the Ducks the way of the DoDo bird.


Totally agree 100%


Mastro is the cancer


I found myself rooting for Chip yesterday and then being impressed by the Trojans! Thinking: Why can’t we do that? Fun game to watch. Good play by both offenses and defenses! Wish I could day the same about the up and down Ducks.

Good points to ponder Charles! Thank you!

Jon Joseph

Great Q. ‘Why can’t we do that?’ I hate to do this, but please add Clay Helton to my ‘guys who get it’ list below.

‘We’ can’t get it because the man in charge doesn’t get it.

Jon Joseph

SPOT ON! And if might add, a very courageous take.

Your insight into the obvious, what we are witnessing on the field, will obviously be chastised. Just give the coach (with close to 110 games as a HC) more time to learn; COVID played havoc with this entire season (but not the Beavers and Bears seasons) and the young players are bound to improve (this I agree with, if they are properly coached up.)

Mario is now 1-3 in the last 4 road games against unranked opponents. Culture? How about a culture of playing down to your opponent and keeping teams that you should be blowing out, in the game and giving them a chance to win.

Watershed? How about Mario’s High Water Mark? That in my opinion my dear friends, was a 1 point win over a 3L team in a consolation Rose Bowl game. Mario will NEVER coach in a 12 game regular season without the team having at least 2Ls. So, Clemson of the West? Come On!

For those of you who witnessed Alabama’s playing-on-the-road destruction of a decent Arkansas team yesterday, does anyone really believe that Oregon under Mario, will ever get to the point where it will be able to smash mouth its way to a victory over a Bama team with athletes equal to or better than those on the Ducks roster; athletes playing in a 21st century offense?

Mario is about to get a raise and an increased buyout. Mario will not lead the team to a win against Ohio State next season in Columbus. He will not lead the team to a win the following season against Georgia in Atlanta. He will never go 10-0 with a champ game win in the Pac-12.
When the playoff expands, he may get a 6 to 8 seeded Ducks team into the playoff by winning the Pac-12 with 2 or 2 Ls? But good luck advancing beyond the 1st round.

Need to pay a HC more $? In today’s world, yes. But how about paying Steve Sarkisian now, instead of looking for a Sark three years down the road. By then you ,ay be hiring someone to help bring the fans back to Autzen Stadium.

Again Charles, spot on take!


One item when watching sc play was the impact of a couple players Cristobal undoubtedly would have kept in state, or as a commit, if he had been head coach longer. Our team is loaded with young talent, but we are weaker at the junior, senior positions.

What if Talanoa had signed with Oregon? The guy would have solidified our backfield like nobody we have, and he is a junior.

Mavae and Marlon also would have had a huge impact in leadership positions.

We don’t have that top talent, leadership in the upper classes.

I also think we have a Sark type OC, we just need to let him run our offense.

Leaders are born, not made through experience. We don’t have leadership material, in the senior ranks right now.

We all know people who just have it, our upper classes don’t have it. It was actually Penei last year, as a sophomore, who led many of the pregame offensive talks.

Agree we can all see it, and somebody, in close quarters, is going to have to set him straight. Maybe it is Moorhead, maybe he talks with Saban and he talks the truth. We, as fans, have little impact on a guy like Cristobal. He is going to have to discover the truth or have somebody in power set him straight.

Jon Joseph

HE, not we, needs to allow him to run the offense. From Charles on down us Ducks fans can see this. Mario can’t?

OK. Dabo went 0-5 his 1st 5 seasons as a HC versus rival South Carolina.

Dabo in his 1st 5 seasons at Clemson with 47 wins, had the same record as Harbough in his 5th season currently has at Michigan.

But Dabo grew in the job. Among other things, he brought in the ‘old’ Oregon O. And Dabo is a CEO; he does not try to be Clemson’s OC or DC.

IF I believed that Mario had the same growth potential, I’d say stay with MC. But I don’t see it. Mario has already been a HC for the more than 5 years it took Dabo to elevate Clemson.

For the most part today, Clemson blows the doors off of inferior competition. If us fans have to sweat out W’s over Wazzu and Oregon State, the Natty is a pipe dream.


Jon, lets talk more about what it would take to bring a top level HC into the arms of Oregon, one that can take us to the promised land and win the national championship.

As I see it their are several things that are considerations for a top level HC to come to Oregon:
Location – – The Northwest is not what you would call a hotbed of college football.
Local attitude – – The West coast is not crazy about football as the East coast is.
The school itself – – The Ducks are an accepted national brand in football.
Money – – There must be a way for the Ducks to come up with comparable compensation.
Facilities – – UO has some of the best in college football.
The Conference – – The Pac-12 as a conference really sucks.
Time zone – – This really sucks also.

IMO head coaches don’t want to just coach football they want to win a national championship as much as the fans want it but to do that they want as much in there favor as they can get. The more things a school has that are favorable the more a top level coach will be interested in coaching at Oregon.

To me you have to start at the top and IMO the top issue is the state of the Pac-12. No top level coach wants to be seen moving down a level in status. Positive changes would have to be made in the Pac-12 and they must be shown to be taking us in the right direction. That will take years to achieve. Or we could just switch to another conference, again that will take years to achieve.

Almost as important is money. I don’t know how but the Ducks must find a way to pay top level coaches what it takes.

Your thoughts ??

Jon Joseph

All very good points BDF.

Beyond Sark, I really have no thoughts other than to note that it has been years since a currently employed, winning P5 coach has been hired by a Pac-12 team.

Mario isn’t going anywhere. In fact he is likely to get a big bump in pay. But IMO, the $ would be better spent heading in the direction of Sark. A guy who knows the west coast and can recruit.

The counter to the Pac-12 being the conference CFB forgot, is that a coach with true P5 coaching chops might prefer this to the meat grinder SEC and the B1G E Division? The chance to be the big fish (with all due respect to Charles) in a small pond?


So why would Cristobal get a big bump in pay ?? A season of gutter-play-football doesn’t deserve it. Maybe after a year he is more successful. Getting a big bump in pay just to get a big bump in pay isn’t using scarce resources wisely.

Who’s running this show anyway ?? And whats his phone number, I need to make a phone call ??


Alas, this is where we are. Do we go all in on Mario? The points you brought up on what coaching in Oregon entails was accurate. If Mario leaves what kind of coach can Oregon reasonably expect to take his place? Mike Bellotti isn’t coming back. Mario was the pedigree we should expect. A motivated assistant.
If somehow Sark has a epiphany and knows he will find his reward at Autzen, hallelujah. But, short of that I think we better sign Mario up long term.


My call would be to replace Mario with Joe Moorhead.


That’s very intriguing.

Jon Joseph

Joe had no shot at MS ST. Mullen leaving meant to the Bulldogs players, ‘OK, you can win it all at UF but not here?’

He never had an in-synch locker room.

Look at what the Pirate is not doing today. IM did much better.

Going to Starkville was a bad career decision for JM; but it does not mean he cannot be a quality HC as he proved at Fordham. Fordham you say? Is it a lot different than where Mario coached in the G5?

Jon Joseph

He’ll not only get more $ and an extension, he’ll get a far bigger buy out.

I don’t get these AD’s. If you have hired the right guy and he comes through, why the huge buy out? If he is approached by another team, then bump his pay or let him go.

This ‘buy out stuff’ is senseless.

I’m a hot IT guy. You hire me. Are you or a 3rd party going to pay me millions if I give you an in your face and leave for another job?

Hell NO! If market forces make you more valuable, I’ll raise your pay or say, ‘See you later.’

I mean, $13M to Sumlin; $21M to Malzahn?

This is completely absurd and contrary to any reasonable business practice.

Frankly, I find this bordering on immoral.


Hell NO! If market forces make you more valuable, I’ll raise your pay or say, ‘See you later.’ Just like softball coaches.

Jon Joseph

These buy outs are reverse chess.

My guy becomes King elsewhere? Check, and throw $ my way to buy him out,.

My guy turns a King into a Pawn, I owe him millions of dollars to get him off the board?

I think this is a STUPID business strategy.

Pay what the market commends. If a 3rd party comes calling with more $, match it or goodbye,

These buyouts are a cancer and agents vs ADs, not a fair fight.


Welcome to free enterprise my friend.


Charles , I CAN’T !!!!! Our avg speed RB are 7 yards off the line is scrimmage ! Hello , that is____ !! Culture , The quitter , Gary Anderson used to come on a Pdx radio show every week and say , “ we got to get tougher “ ! I use to think there’s something wrong there , then he quit . I’m NOT so sure MC “ RED rear “approach hasn’t wore then with this team ? Any ways , I was hoping Chip would have beat SC , great game ! I am angry W still might be in pac 12 champ , which I will NOT watch at all. , and I hope this season goes away ! Biggest game this season is this WEDNESDAY !

Merry Christmas to ALL you Duck fans , and Charles , thanks for the FISH !!!

Jon Joseph

That was a great game. Say what you will about Helton but SC competes to the game’s end. Too bad that it’s CU, CU after the Buffs lost its star LB Landman. But, this is the Pac-12 where teams for the most part do not have quality back ups.

It was fun to watch Jerry Rice’s son score two long TDs for the Buffs.

When it comes to the S Division, I’m not happy that Larry lucked out.


Up to now I have been very happy to have Helton located at USC, but if he can get his players to play 60 minutes of football rather then just the last 2 minutes of the game, the Pac and the SEC will be in real trouble.


Yeah, this come from behind win in the last seconds was different from the two other come from behind wins in the last seconds for the Trojans. In those, ASU & Arizona pretty much handed the Trojans with wins.

In this one, it wasn’t like UCLA just kicked a field goal to take the lead with under a minute to play, and the Trojans with 0 timeouts, and then let USC get a 50 yard kick off return, where kicking a field goal would have won the game, but the Trojans got a touchdown instead.

Grudgingly I have to give USC credit, certainly for this win. If nothing tangible, the old, “we’re never out of a game” feeling spread through USC from the beginning of the season.


However, we could have been 0 – 5 just as easily. Standford, WSU, and UCLA could have beat us. Unacceptable!


Do not lose against far lesser opponents. All of them had COVID issues and new guys starting.


Charles, it’s a discouraging doubleheader with Mario. First we watch the games which you summed up here, then we hear Mario afterwards, and we realize that he is not seeing the same game we are. He isn’t seeing anything that needs to be changed schematically, they just need to get tougher?

Mario is a solid guy. I don’t see any flaws in his character. But, he did say that he would be doing what Oregon had been doing so well, just with better, bigger players. He has delivered on the latter part of that promise, it’s the former where he’s let us down. What good does it do to bring in these great recruiting classes if you’re going to put them in your Prevent Offense?

Jon Joseph

BTW: Nick, Dabo, Kirby Smart, Ryan Day and MACK BROWN, etc., get it!

Meanwhile, Mario refuses to move into the 21st century.


I still question our ability to coach up players. For example I think we have gotten bigger players in our OL but if you compare them to the OL of Clemson, Alabama, Ohio St, and other top programs do they really have that level of performance ??

I also question the play of Kayvon Thibodeaux. Kayvon is IMO a great pass rusher but not so much a run stopper. So why is he in there on obvious run downs ?? I’ve see to many times where he gets pushed around by the larger offensive linemen during run plays. He should be used as a pass rusher and not a run stopper but out coaching staff is missing that.


Your prescient words have always struck Charles, unfortunately, somehow it never makes it to the eyes that NEED to read it. If I was paid millions, I would pay a guy just to cover my blind side and get me exposed to these necessary details that are noticed outside of my program.. but I digress..

I believe every single thing written above. And it HURTS.

I’ll add that in addition to the cultural issues, my continued frustrations lie with the fact that I root for a team that plays in a conference that will consistently put my team at a disadvantage with their policy, schedule, officiating and poor management practices. This would be ‘life in action’ if we didn’t see it working elsewhere in multiple scenarios.

This has caused me to SERIOUSLY question the rationale of my fandom when the prize isn’t equally or equitably attainable for all parties. Looking into the future, how can I possibly reconcile years of frustrations with not only my aforementioned, but also swallow down a big gulp of uncertainty courtesy of the shell game that is our supposed offensive identity.

I will even go so far as to suggest that it was Oregon’s innovative shift that turned our casual fandom (comparatively) into rabid gridiron-starving loons circa 12yrs or so past. This might also be the reasoning for such woes experienced at the fan level.

By sheer luck, our trajectory should have gotten us to the promised land by now, and the problem is not the players it’s clearly the (lack of) scheme and no one qualified to hold and monitor the stethoscope.

Jon Joseph

Great comment! And so correct when it comes to the disappearing Pac-12.


One really has to wonder why some sort of action is not taken against the leaders of the Pac-12 to hold them accountable for their actions. It’s not that their ineptness is not blatant or covert. If the schools don’t hold them accountable then us fan’s must.

Sherman Poindexter

This most likely won’t change your mind. As a matter of fact, my comment might send you into a depressive spiral involving pints of ice cream, cans of PBR and teary, late night phone calls to the pimple faced girl who broke your heart in high school.

You used the word “Watershed” in your title.
Immediately I thought of a night 7 years ago.

This is a story of mythic Duck heroes:
DeAnthony Thomas
Marcus Mariota
Jake Fisher
DeForest Buckner
Josh Huff
Byron Marshall
Keanon Lowe

A tale of elemental forces (a monsoon) so profound and disgusting that decorum prevents me from listing them here. 🙂
Ahh, what the heck…let me give it a shot:

September 28, 2013.
Battling a freshman Jared Goff and the Cal Bears in weather conditions so unforgiving that here are the 1st quarter stats:::
(First Quarter!!!)
8 fumbles.
1 interception.
UGLY game.
And the Ducks still scored 4 touchdowns.
All in the 1st quarter!
At the time, the Ducks were #2 in the country.

(That very day, Sean Mannion threw 6 touchdowns to lead Oregon State to a win over Colorado.)

I only bring this up to harken back to a time when Oregon could score at will. Where even sheets of rain couldn’t slow down the Duck attack. Where opponents literally feared the juggernaut they were about to face. Where sitting our starting quarterback for most of the 2nd half was routine.
Where the possibility of football perfection ….while just out of reach… somehow seemed almost attainable.
Ya know?

People who aren’t Duck fans don’t understand. They call us obnoxious, loud, crazy.
But unlike even the grinding, tough-it-out BCS champions of the early 2010’s…… we’ve SEEN IT UP CLOSE.
We’ve almost touched offensive perfection.

Even in a “watershed”.

If I can only believe….even if it’s a pipe dream…. that we can scale those lofty heights again, then I’ll stick it out.
But Cristobal isn’t making it easy.

Jon Joseph

‘We’ can. But not under Cristobal. Not when running a completely predictable offense.


If this is in fact Cristobal’s offensive I can say that, this is about what I would expect. However I thought we hired a offensive juggernaut when we got Joe Moorhead as our OC, but this is not Joe Moorhead’s offensive that we were lead to believe we would have.

With all the hype around Joe Moorhead when he first came here, what I was expecting to see is not what we got. And that is exactly what I feel is the problem. Joe’s offensive does not mesh with Cristobals ideas and Joe is not winning the battle with Cristobal over what the offensive should look like.

In reality our present day offensive is a highbred between three coaches, Cristobal (toughness), Jim Mastdro (pistol), and Joe Moorhead (RPO), and that as you can see is not working out very well and I don’t think it can last another full regular season (2021).

When Joe first got here we were all worried about how long he would stay before he jets out for another HC job somewhere else. IMO if Cristobal doesn’t get out of the way, Joe will not be sticking around for the 2022 season and I don’t blame him one bit, because Cristobal has ruined his reputation as an offensive juggernaut.

For Oregon to not have the talent in coaching match up with the talent in players has been very disappointing for me. And I am one of those fan’s who has “checked out until next fall”. Given up Ducks football and moved on to something “other” – – – anything other.


Jon Joseph

What was for many of us the big question when Moorhead was hired?’

‘Outstanding! But will Marion get out of the way?’

We have our answer. Mario is a fine person who is not qualified to be the CEO of a championship program.


Yep, we have our answer. Fine person – yes, CEO of a football program – yes, CEO of a championship program – No.


I’m glad you brought up Jim Mastro, as I’ve been thinking about his part of the blame for the heavy emphasis on using the pistol, and how much clout he might have within the program.


I am really surprised Jim is still here as I can’t find where he is “outstanding” at much. Don’t see where he is mentioned much in the recruiting end of things and I always thought that was a must with Cristobal.


Yes, basketball and softball still have my interest but football is low on the interest rating.