Does Rob Mullens feel he got SNOOKERED by Mario Cristobal?

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials 90 Comments

Find this content useful? Share it with your friends!

I’ve often wondered what Athletic Director Rob Mullens was expecting of Oregon’s offense when he announced Mario Cristobal as head football coach in his news conference (Featured Photo above) in December, 2017. I assume he was told what I thought I heard from news sources at that time, that Cristobal explained how the Ducks would, “get tougher in the trenches, and continue what Oregon is known for.” Other Duck fans seem to recall his projected offensive attack characterized that way as well.

The Oregon high-scoring offense with tougher linemen? Sounds good to me!

Yet it has turned out quite different as he largely dumped the original Oregon Shotgun Spread that was copied and is still used successfully across the nation, as well as discarding the highly successful “Gulf-Coast” offense introduced that year.

Amazing Moments Photography

Fast tempo, fast scoring and exciting football was once the Oregon Brand.

Coach Cristobal stated right here that maintaining a fast tempo to create offensive advantages would be retained …”Being explosive, being fast but being physical at the line of scrimmage. We do not want to take away from our tempo. It’s a valuable asset.”

What happened to that? As my friend and colleague at Duck Sports Authority, Dale Newton, recently deadpanned…“While most of college football is stepping on the gas, the Ducks have forgotten to take off the emergency brake.” Yikes.

In his introductory press conference, Coach Cristobal stated right here, that he plans…“A tremendous investment in the offensive and defensive lines….a tremendous investment in being an explosive football team, creating explosion plays, being exciting, making sure that our fans love to come out and support it, because it’s a brand of football they love to see and support.”

Asan Awan

Oh good. We’ll fool’em with another Pistol-Plunge up the middle!

Yes, that brand of football took Oregon to the brink of a National Championship twice, and the fans loved it. You cannot imagine the number of emails and phone calls I’ve received over the years concerning the demise of the excitement that once was the Oregon offense. Athletic Director Rob Mullens understands that the fans would be forgiving of Cristobal jettisoning the prior offense if the replacement achieved similar results or better.

But in three years under Cristobal–it has not. (What did Chip Kelly do in three years at Oregon?)

The average points per game over the last three years has been 33.84 under Cristobal, while even during the worst year of Kelly/Helfrich in 2016, the Ducks scored 35.40 points per game. Oregon scored 43 points per game in the prior year of 2015 and 43 points per game was also the nine year average under Kelly/Helfrich. I was at that introductory press conference in 2017, and I asked the final question of the day that the Coach took time to graciously answer. So confident was I in what he planned on offense that I asked a question about the defense!

I used the word “snookered” in the title, because it is different than being fooled or mislead. It means that you left someone in a difficult position, and I believe that fits where Rob Mullens is right now. This Cristobal offense is not the offense that built the Oregon brand that brought so many fans to the Ducks from across the nation. Yet Mario is a man of great values, who has no compliance issues and who exudes the type of leadership that Mullens wants running this football program.

He is in a tough spot, and I imagine Rob Mullens is crossing his fingers about the Oregon offense this next season like the rest of us!

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo from UO Athletics YouTube

Please post your thoughts about this article here on FishDuck, (in the comments) as I need to keep things a bit active for web rankings. Thank you!


Want to know why we are no longer publishing articles every day on FishDuck? Learn about it right here, but know that Mr. FishDuck will still be publishing articles on FishDuck.

If you would like to be placed on the list to receive a quick notification email when I publish an article, do sign-up right here, and thus we can gather in the comments and discuss the topic like the old-days. (If you have ever posted a comment on this FishDuck site, I have your email on that list)

If you would like to reflect on so many accomplishments that have occurred over the last ten years of FishDuck, and the impact on so many–check right here to read it.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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 WhittedMr. FishDuck
Thursday: Coach Eric BolesAlex 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!

Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Love the clip from Gladiator.


A really solid point that I don’t think anyone has made:

Chip Kelly has been back in the pac12, running his offense with the same level of recruits he had at Oregon – and he isn’t winning.

Maybe the Chip Kelly success was just a ‘flash in the pan’? — the right gimmick at the right time? Defenses know how to defend it now.


Spoke too soon… Chip has not been doing well with recruiting either at UCLA.


I have a lot to say on this, but first look at the scores from the 2019 season – a ‘typical Cristobal kind of season’:

  • L 21–27
  • W 77–6
  • W 35–3
  • W 21–6
  • W 17–7
  • W 45–3
  • W 35–31
  • W 37–35
  • W 56–24
  • W 34–6
  • L 28–31
  • W 24–10

W 37–15
W 28–27

What do you see here? Lets pick this apart, shall we?

Close games: 3 wins and 2 losses – the lack of high scoring hurts the cause when the defense does not shut the other team down completely.

On the other hand, the tight, ball control strategy keeps the Ducks in games that are competitive. Many a time, a Chip Kelly team would do a bunch of quick 3 and outs against teams with good defenses, which would leave the Oregon defense ragged and worn late in the game.

The old Allioti defenses would stay on the field a long time, and because of that, get a lot of turnovers.

Cristobal defenses make the opposing offense punt and get the ball back to the Oregon offense. Unfortunately, the offense seldom did anything when getting the ball back, except to punt it away and try to get some kind of field advantage.


I don’t think that Cristobal is an offensive genius. I really don’t think Arroyo was one either. 2020 was a year in the toilet for this football team due to opt outs and lack of practicing and conditioning, and Shough playing like Doctor Mariota and Mister Lockie – (Jeckle and Hyde).

2021 is THE year for Cristobal to FIX this offense. He has THREE, if not four capable QBs who should be at least serviceable.

He has offensive skills players that are far and away better than any other pac12 team not called USC.

He has 5 years worth of O linemen that he has been recruiting and training since he got here with Willie the Snake.

He has his second year with Moorhead, who IS an offensive genius.


2021 is IT. We will see offense or we won’t. No more excuses.

I expect to see better playcalling. I hope to see the return of the hurry-up, and I hope to be going for it on 4th downs once across the 50 yd line. .

The SEC has changed its offensive strategy. The Florida / Alabama game is the FUTURE of college football.

Cristobal is stuck in the past – UNTIL he DECIDES to get modern.

People can change, but most do not. The recruits will stop coming if Cristobal insists on playing 1950s college football.

I think he ‘gets it’ and picks up the offense. He has too much else going for him. All he has to do is let his OC do his job and get out of the way.


If it doesn’t change this year, I don’t think it will until there is a new administration.


Losses to both Cal and the Beavs have me concerned.


Not me. The 2020 team was NOT GOOD. The defensive front 7 was really bad and so was the offensive line.

Joshua Whitted

The answer has to be “absolutely yes,” simply from reading the quotes. Cristobal said he that he wanted an explosive, exciting football team, and that has not been the case. Whether he will make the changes necessary to get us to the point where we’re once again explosive, exciting, and most importantly, very productive on offense is another conversation, but it’s clear that he made it a point of emphasis in his presser and hasn’t delivered on what he said in that respect.

This is coming from a Cristobal fan. I personally think he’s a top-20 coach, largely based on his recruiting abilities. But good coaches can have flaws, and his handling of the offensive situation after his hiring is certainly his biggest.


Willie put in Arroyo, but Willie ran the offense.

Cristobal keeping Arroyo around two seasons was as bad a move as Helfrich hiring Brady Hoke. That is how bad I think the offense was.


Charles…good ponder article. Thanks.

First, can we agree that last year was an outlier for multiple reasons and resulting in manifold team irregularities (including player and coach performance as well as results)?

Regarding your article, I am heartened by an approach most coaches have upon signing on to new teams. The conversation with the AD will go something like “It will take me ‘N’ years of recruiting and assistant hiring to achieve the vision I am giving you.” With MC, I’m thinking it is possible, even likely, that such a conversation occurred with Mullens. MC perhaps said something similar, predicting a high standard of team achievement in, say, year 2 or 3.

I’m giving MC this year to press the O-GO button, releasing Moorhead to fly free.

And remember that Mullens holds the purse. He has plenty of flesh in the game. I would never suggest that he would be “snookered”…and take it laying down. You may not be giving the man enough credit.

It’s true that the offense under MC has been a bit…well…offensive to us fans. And all the above stated, if the predominant offense this year again turns to predictable A-gap pistol dives…then I’ll get on your bandwagon full time. I, for one, doubt that it will, however. I look for a much more diverse attack by our Ducks in 2021.


Every business plan takes time to implement. For the reasons I stated above, we won’t be certain “he lied” until he has had his full team of players and assistants in place. That would be 2021. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it. :-)


I personally don’t think Mullen feels too snookered, when he can look the last 4 years and see the best 4 recruiting classes Oregon has ever had, and couple that with consecutive PAC 12 championships.

Not saying MC couldn’t have done better, but didn’t slick bring in Arroyo in 2016? MCs offense was driven by MA in 17, 18, and 19. JM didn’t get to do or show much in 20, and I like many on this thread look forward to MC letting JM do what he was hired to do. Coordinate and run the offense.


I agree wholeheartedly in your comments. However, if Mario’s philosophy brings us wins, I’m all right with it. If not…….I’m also all right with demoting him to Head of Recruiting…..where he has done an outstanding job, and turning over the offense to either another head coach, or give the reins to another offensive coordinator. But… are right: we’re not moving the ball! Runs up the middle for no gain, over, and over……and over again!


OK Charles, you may be on to something, but let me offer my 2 cents…

What if MC decided to burn it all down, in order to build it back up. This way he avoids suggestions that his success had to be shared with previous coaches.
He also is going to his own roots and trying to build a “Bama of the NW”.

Just like concentrating recruiting efforts to CA 1st, where he gets biggest return on investment, he is turning more effort to WA?
So building his own offense from the O-line out 1st, and now looking to build on that.

Case in point, by hiring Morehead he clearly wants a more high powered, scoring offense. We have also recruited better receivers than maybe ever!
The tightends recruited are also studs with soft hands.
All this suggests to me he wants to step things up

I rewatched the Pac12 champ game against Utah from 2019 and we used tempo several times. I bet with this year, we see it more. With the start and stop to last year’s season, we may never know the extant covid had on the season. And the backward steps of TS at qb didn’t help.

I gotta believe we see some offense lighting things up, I mean, we got some stud receivers.
But if we don’t, I will definitely be remembering this article. And I’ll be wanting to play Cristobal a game of pool, cuz he definitely is better at “snooker”ing.


Too often on important plays, the defense seemed to already know what the Oregon offense was going to run. I agree that he hired Moorhead to fix his own lack of offensive scheme and play-calling deficiencies.

And it can and will work, if Cristobal will let it happen.

Darren Perkins

As you know Charles, I completely agree with you on the disappointment of the Oregon offense under Mario.

As previously done, I will funnel this disappointment through the case of Justin Herbert. As pundits rave this off-season about his outstanding rookie season, a common thought by many of them is, “I never saw this coming based on his performance at Oregon.” And if you are not a close observer of the Oregon program this is a valid statement. In 2018 and 2019, Herbert had his stretches of not looking so great.

But, as I’ve harped on the past couple years, Herbert’s lack of consistency was based on the offensive coaching staff’s lack of quality play-calling, lack of creativity, lack of coherence, lack of rhythm, playing tough but NOT smart, and overall lack of synergry. This amounted to disappointing offensive output and at times the lack of consistency by Herbert.

Herbert was COACHED DOWN.

Some, who are on the other side of the argument and won’t criticize Mario for Oregon’s offensive woes, will say that the coaching at Oregon is what made Herbert so good his rookie year. With this I completely disagree. Herbert was great in 2020 in SPITE of his Oregon coaching. Many of us saw this, thinking, “If only the coaching staff could get it together offensively, Herbert would be all-world.”

Herbert didn’t suddenly take step-back in his junior 2018 season. After being thrown into the fire as an 18 year-old true-freshman and showing amazing pose and flashes of brilliance in 2016, to lighting it up in 2017 (until injury, Willie Willie Willie) as a sophomore…… it was the new offensive mind-set implemented under Cristobal that made the Oregon offense take that step-back.

I mean, just look at Oregon’s performance last season from the QB position with quarterbacks not as talented as Herbert.

Relent Mario, and let this offense fly!!!


You missed one item, Herbert had few if any qualified receivers to throw to. When the previous national champs have had multiple NFL receivers and many over rated college qb’s the same, you have to admit receivers count in an high powered offense. We haven’t had top talent at receiver, even really good receivers since, Dillon Mitchell.

As far as turning Herbert loose, we couldn’t. We haven’t had a decent back-up qb since before Mariota. If Herbert ran like he did in the Rose Bowl before the Rose Bowl we should of all been yelling at Cristobal. He was the team, we had to protect him.

Cristobal had to grow our receiver group and qb depth from almost zero. I think there are two sides to the offensive weakness we have all seen. There are signs Cristobal loves the predictable plunge too much, but there are huge red flags about our offense few are talking about. Fortunately those are being addressed.

I am still at the wait and see how the end of the season looks. I am also realistic about the schedule, the youth, and injuries which can happen during a season. Putting a number on where we should be is unrealistic, I want to see certain things happen, but a win total isn’t one of them.

Darren Perkins

I did leave that out, thank you for reminding me. While our receiver talent was not top-shelf, it was serviceable. I have no doubt in my mind that the Kelly, Helf, Taggart era offensives would have done much better with the same group of receivers. To be successful in college you don’t have to have NFL-caliber receivers, you need good college receivers.

My take on turning Herbert loose has nothing to do with him running. It’s about smart play calling and putting him in a position to succeed with his arm. (The way Taggart ran him was completely reckless and we paid the price that year.)

With solid scheme and X’s and O’s coaching, this team should win a minimum of 10 games based on their talent level. The Ducks have recruited great, have top-Ten talent that arguably puts them at the top of the Pac-12. I want W’s! ; )

Cristobal has all aspects of college football down pat, except for what Charles has brought up in this article about a lacking offense.


The difference between the elite offensive teams and Oregon has been at the receiver position. We haven’t had NFL talent, name one NFL starter in the recent, distant past? LSU, and Alabama had multiple guys who can beat you and make the qb look amazing. In my opinion you can’t be serviceable at a critical position. Wait until tosu lines up with their receivers.

We have yet to prove we have elite talent at receiver or qb, for the coming season. We have potential, and that is all. When we have proven elite talent at qb and receiver we can expect an elite offense again. We also need back-ups, tosu let a heisman trophy winning qb leave, and still won big.

I just think many are being too critical, too soon, JMHO. High expectation are good, but they have to laced with patience.

I would also be critical of Cristobal’s game management, but I give him time on that too. He doesn’t win big managing games like he does, up to this point. Pregame and during the game he hasn’t proven himself to me.

Darren Perkins

I no doubt see what you’re saying, having outstanding receivers is great, but I place the scheme and play-calling as the number one factor that has held Oregon’s offense back since Cristobal arrived. And this poor scheming has led to less production from the wide receivers.

I mean, go back to Oregon’s glory days under Chip and Helf, was Oregon loaded with plug n play, NFL-ready wide receivers then? No. But guys like Jeff Maehl were outstanding college receivers.


And Carrington, Huff, Addison, DAT, and others. Chip/Helf also had GREAT college running backs and tight ends.

Santa Rosa Duck

This is the year it all comes together. Offense, Defense, and Special Teams. Oh yee of little faith. It all starts in 47 days at Autzen Stadium!

Charles I look at it like investing, and something I think you have seen many times. Smart people in their area of expertise, intend to apply their intelligence to the stock market. They fail miserably, some learn to hire CFP’s or smart money managers. Others just continue to struggle because they are smart guys.

Cristobal has been the smart guy, who thinks he can out wit the markets. He didn’t lie, he just can’t run an offense Oregon expects. He has made overtures to turn the investing over to a highly qualified broker, but still can’t turn over all the money to the guy. The question is will he turn over all his assets, which are many, and succeed, or will he just keep being the smart guy who fails?

I think you have seen both of these scenarios, both have the best intentions. One guy is just smarter than the other, knows his limits, does Cristobal, yet? Is he just going to keep bringing in massive assets, highly rated recruits, and blowing it, or learn to step back and do what he does best. So far the only guy who has been snookered is Cristobal, about his own talents.

Next time you have him alone, ask him who invests his money. If he says he manages his own money then you have your answer. If he says the best broker he knows, then tell him to do the same with the offense!

If you think about investing, it isn’t just about knowing about investing, it is about defeating emotional impulses to sell at the bottom and buy at the top. Cristobal has no control over his emotional impulses, run it up the gut on short yardage, crunch time.

He makes the right moves longterm, recruit, hire guys who know how do their jobs. He has hired a guy that can do exactly what he has said he wants. But as you know, your investing outcomes are destroyed by emotional impulses.

I too find it offensive you say he lied, you stepped over a line on this one. I think he expressed his intent, his longterm actions back that up. I can agree to disagree on this one too. I also agree it takes a bright light to get somebody to stop self destructive behavior, so good on you, but keep it real!

Jon Joseph

Terrific ponder point Charles, terrific. One that goes to the current heart and soul of the program and the direction in which the program is headed.

I think overall and to date, that Mullens feels relieved about the Mario hire?

After a less than exhaustive search, there was a class of recruits to save, Mullens hired the second HC in a row who had no P5 head coaching experience, and had a losing record as a head coach in the G5.

Mario has one conference title, two if you count the farce that was last season. A 1 point Rose Bowl win over a 3 loss team, with the NFL Rookie of the Year quarterbacking his team, and a Fiesta Bowl Siesta.

OK to date, except, the Rose Bowl season should have been a Playoff season and 2020 came with 3 brutal Ls to 3 teams that had nowhere near the talent of that on Oregon’s roster.

I don’t believe Mario will take the team to the Playoff in 2021. The team is young and the schedule is brutal. But I do expect that the team will be prepared for every game on the schedule and play up to its ability and not down to the level of the opponent.

This season the team should go 11- 2, with a conference title and a Rose Bowl appearance. This does not happen, than Mullens and many the Oregon fan may not feel snookered, but will be righteously concerned. (Frankly, I’m concerned about the team possibly finishing 8-4?)

To date, Mario has proved to be an excellent recruiter. One who recruits fairly and squarely. But Mario is a suspect game day and in-game, coach. For example, the game against Auburn was a case of defeat being pulled from the jaws of victory.

IMO, any ‘culture’ that does not have the team ready to play to its potential on game day is a worthless ‘culture.’

Lots of nice guys who had teams with an excellent APR and full of model citizens, have been fired.

NIKE and Oregon spent a whole lot of money on the program’s ‘Flash + Dash’ image.

I hate to see this image suffering from an internal infestation of confused coaching.


We can all agree that these are not the Ducks of the previous decade. I feel that MC is trying to put his stamp on the team. I think his biggest contribution is hiring great assistants and recruiting. During the CK/MH era there were plenty of recruits that wanted to be part of Ducks football but CK only recruited once a month (I believe someone stated this?) Young recruits want to be wooed and constantly reassured. CK hated dealing with parents and media but the product he put on the field was amazing.

MC and staff are some of the best recruiters in the college football! It’s exciting to see that the Ducks are top 10 in recruiting with no hint of violations. The issue, I feel, is MC is doing too much and not allowing his staff to take his vision and run with it. Winning is the goal! If it means the Ducks drop 80 on opponents then so be it. We can all accept tight games but not every game.

We have seen how being a coach and president of operations in professional sports don’t usually work. There are a lot of stresses in both jobs individually. MC should allow his assistants to do the job he hired them to do. He needs step back and do less micromanaging and just manage.

J Duck

All the homer fans like me take the glass-half-full view, but the numbers don’t lie. Thanks for pointing out the tough issues Charles (and this is not the first time on this topic). Let’s see what happens in 2021…we all know this is a bellwether season for MC. Will Moorhead be given free reign to up the tempo and creativity? No reason we can’t be physical AND fast AND score a lot. We have the perimeter pieces now and the QB’s…I think. And the D.


Haunted by Rich Brooks…


The Oregon identity has definitely evolved since the Kelly era. We’re now a ball control, defensive oriented team. Considering that Helfrich was incompetent as a general and lost institutional control of the program, Cristobal has been a gigantic upgrade. He has instilled a strong culture and is recruiting at level never seen at Oregon. We’ll have a strong team year in and out under him but performing at an elite level has not happened yet. It may not happen either, it’s incredibly hard to make the playoffs and win a title.


I understand your point but I don’t believe Mullens feels like he got snookered and it’s because of what Cristobal has accomplished post Helfrich and Taggart.

Jon Joseph

pt, what exactly is the ‘culture’ you refer to? I see a ‘culture’ that leads to game day no shows and suspect play against inferior opponents?

‘We’re now a ball control, defensive oriented team.’

Do you think Vince Lombardi’s style of play would work in today’s NFL? I don’t.


I’m talking about the culture of discipline within the locker room. Mario has the respect of his players, Helfrich didn’t. Matt Wogan was hit in the head by Pharoah Brown before kickoff which caused him to miss a game or two. Helfrich did nothing and the culture of the program was severely impaired as a result. Cristobal has rebuilt the culture.

Jon Joseph

Respect of the players?

Perhaps, but the best manner in which to show respect for the HC is to show up for and ball out, every game. Not just when you are playing SC.

I don’t believe that last season’s games vs CAL, OR ST and Iowa ST showed respect for the HC and the assistant coaches.

I sense somewhat of a Texas-like country club atmosphere; sure hope I am wrong.


Boy, I couldn’t disagree more. There’s a huge difference in the attitude of the program compared to the Helfrich era. Players know what’s expected of them in terms of their conduct and MC is a strong leader.

I do question his ability to develop players and put them in a position to succeed, especially on offense. But in terms of being the CEO or the general, MC is superb. He needs to hire the best coordinators and let them run the offense and defense. DeRuyter and Moorehead look good on paper in that regard.

Jon Joseph

Yet, in his first season, Helfrich led the team to the Playoff and a beat down of an undefeated FSU team.

In terms of conduct under Mario, yes. In terms of on field performance?


So would I be mistaken to infer that you’d rather have Helfrich as head coach than MC?


Mariota led that team, not Helfrich. When Helfrich was in charge, without onfield leadership, the ship sank. Helfrich was an x’s and o’s coach, not a Johnny’s and Joe’s coach. Helfrich inherited a Ferrari and turned it into Yugo, then had to borrow an engine, qb to get it to run.

Same with Ernie Kent, without strong point guard leadership he was outcoached in just about every game. Both coaches gave it there all, but had fatal flaws as coaches.

I think the jury is still out on Cristobal. I may be in the minority, but I think he deserves our respect, along with much consideration for where he has taken the program, from the depths it was in.


Like it or not, MC is the coach. He currently has the reins and has elevated Duck football back to where we may have a legitimate shot at a title. Meanwhile, offensive guru Chip Kelly is on the bubble at UCLA. If his team doesn’t produce more wins, then he will be fired.

Given the choice of Chip Kelly who doesn’t like recruiting, or MC who doesn’t run the plays you prefer, I would take MC and his ability to recruit. I guarantee that AD’s from other schools are noticing his ability to recruit.

I will take Cristobal, and you can have Kelly…I bet I win.


My thoughts on offense is that MC was trying to establish his own identity with Arroyo as the OC. The only reason that the offense worked was because the QB had an elite level of talent.

MC hired an experienced OC in Moorehead. Who hasn’t had much of an opportunity to establish his offense. He replaced Avalos (whose defense really struggled last year) with another very experienced coach.

Cristobal not only recruits top rated players, but also is recruiting some pretty good coaches. The points will come.

Jon Joseph

Good comment. But I note that DeRuyter’s D at CAL regressed during his time there and we have yet to see how his Ducks D will perform.

I have high hopes for DeRuyter, but as of now it is nothing but hope.

It is of course a different role but DeRuyter failed as a HC at A+M and at Fresno State.

Jon Joseph

Good points. But I don’t see 4-3, a back-door title and a blow out bowl loss as evidence of ‘elevating’ the program.


The Ohio State game will be a great barometer game for the program. Contenders or pretenders?

Jon Joseph

Agreed. I do not expect a victory but I will be very disappointed if Oregon does not take the game late into the 4th quarter.

I cannot imagine the team not being FIRED UP for this game.


JJ, that’s exactly how I feel about the Ohio State game but I have no idea what to expect. So many question marks heading into this year.

Jon Joseph

The 9 AM pacific time start doesn’t help the Ducks cause.

As I’ve noted before, I sure hope Mullens has the team arrive in Columbus a day earlier than is the norm for road games.


I saw a football program in severe trouble after Taggart left for “greener pasture$”. Since that time I have seen Oregon play both good and bad. (I will only count one PAC12 Championship…but, also remember that some of our best players opted to not play last year).

However, several of the highest rated players to ever don a Duck uniform are currently on the team’s roster. Several of those players are fully expected to continue onto the NFL.

Oregon is being talked about as a team that has potential to reach the playoffs in the near future. That conversation was not happening a few years ago.

In my opinion…Since the dumpster fire of Taggart’s departure… that should qualify as elevating a program.

Jon Joseph

Fair enough.

But ultimately your record says what you are, both as a team and as a HC.

Oregon has a Blue Chip Roster and needs to play like it game in and game out.

If the team does not perform to the level of its talent and beyond, that’s on the coaches.

Alabama, since Saban’s 1st season, has not lost to unranked opponent and blows out lesser opponents.

The Bama Saban took over was also a dumpster fire. And Saban is doing this against much harder competition.

Saban, a D oriented coach his entire life was smart enough to evolve to understand that in today’s CFB you have to outscore your opponent; you are not going to shut today’s Os down.

This is Mario’s 3rd season as a P5 HC. I am hopeful he ‘gets it’ this season. If not, I doubt that he will ever ‘get it?’

All he has to do? Live up to his promise. What any man of character would do.


JJ, how many years did it take for Saban to loosen up the offense!
Also, the Kelly run offense was 3 years in the making before he became HC.
Mario is on a learning curve also. Saban had some growing to do before he got to ‘bama, MC needs to show his growth too.
Maybe using more izr this season is part of that.

IMO, we will have our best chance to win the natty, the 2nd year of whomever becomes qb of the 3 young ‘uns. That then is next year, or even 2023 .
AB will have a good season, but you are right, he won’t get us to the playoffs.

Jon Joseph

Great response.

Saban figured it out 5 years ago when he brought in Kiffin to run the O, got out of the way and turned it over to Lane. I believe that was 3 championships back?

Mario never watches Bama play ball? He didn’t watch LSU go 21st century on O and Joe Burrow with a championship? Never watches Oklahoma? He hasn’t watched Clemson under Dabo play ball?

He has been a HC for more than 3 seasons and I’m certain he sees the course CFB is taking when it comes to offense.

He simply may be incapable of adapting? I sure hope not, and we will witness the change on O in 2021?

I’m down with 2023 being The Year. (If Mario adopts?)

As you noted, a young QB with time in the system and game experience will be in charge.

And Texas Tech and not Ohio State and UGA being the big OOC game will not hurt the cause.


I don’t have quite the same take on the offensive woes of the last 3 years (but we were still pretty good though). In 2018 & 2019 the necessity to protect Justin Herbert was paramount. Would they have scored more with him fully utilizing his talents by more options utilizing his feet? Unquestionably.

It wasn’t until the final few games of his career here that he fully showed his capabilities. 2020 was the Covid year with expectations based on potential….but lack of spring ball and kids not being around all summer (masks, and the uncertainty of lifting & workouts limited) and a new QB really posed problems and probably evened the playing field for most teams.

This will undoubtedly be the year that the offensive capabilities will be “unleashed” and if not, a whole bunch of we fanatics will be disappointed. Go get em Mario.

Lou Farnsworth


You chose an exceptionally well nuanced word: “Snookered.” The word comes from a  from a variety of the game of pool, called Snooker.

“A game played with cues on a billiard table in which the players use a cue ball (white) to pocket the other balls (fifteen red and six colored) in a set order.”

When you have left your opponent in the difficult position of not having a viable shot at the required next ball, you are said to have “snookered” him. Usually such a result is unintentional.

BTW, there used to be a pool room near the bowling alley in the basement of the Erb, the Student Union building on the U of O campus, which had a snooker table. I played there many times, beginning said usage when I would skip school from South Eugene High with some of my buddies in order to go play pool at the Erb.

Giving Mario the benefit of the doubt, that when he was originally hired he did in fact intend to keep a high octane offense, nevertheless he has not delivered on that promise. That “failure to launch” has greatly annoyed most every Duck fan, and put Mullens in a bind, snookered him.

Everything else that Mario has done with the program is nothing short of amazing. He has pinned a donkey tail the size of Nebraska on Scott Frost’s infamous recruiting comment. We are a recruiting JUGGERNAUT now! He has created a phenomenal, family oriented, hard working, accountability driven, winning culture on the team. Oregon is a destination team that recruits are raving about! And it’s not just the uniforms dammit!!


He has no excuse this year. None. Not Covid preventing practice. Not the lack of a capable Offensive Coordinator. Not the lack of capable skill players adequate to Moorhead’s RPO Speedcar. Not the lack of Big Uglies in the trenches. He is naked of all of those excuses, and I hope he is afraid. I, for one, will be beyond apoplectic if he fails to give JM complete control of the offense. There is absolutely no reason why he should not. He hired one of the best OCs in the game. TRUST HIM MARIO!!!

/rant off

Thanks Charles for throwing up the red meat topic that is on most all of our Quacking minds. Ducks DO eat meat. I Googled it.

Jon Joseph

Man, it’s so good to learn that not everyone totally wasted their high school education!

Lou Farnsworth

Chuckle…..let’s just say that I had a somewhat valid excuse, (wink): I was involved in “hands on modeling” of the property of optics that “the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection across the normal to the reflecting surface.”

Finance and probability was being learned as well. Not inconsequential sums of money, (for our ages at the time), were being wagered on our respective abilities to successfully implement that property of optics.

Jon Joseph

Proving once again, that you can learn so very much from field trips.


Lou Farnsworth

LOL!!! Even the “unauthorized” variety eh?


I haven’t noticed Rob Mullens in any videos or photos with his fingers crossed, nor do I remember him expressing disappointment about the offense or concern about the brand. Please correct me if I am wrong.

With an $80 million budget shortfall, coaching staff recruiting and hiring, the opening of the new Hayward field and its opening events, and a new PAC12 Commissioner, NIL gyrations and much more Mullen’s hands are full. Rob’s inbox and calendar are overflowing.

I would be surprised to learn that AD Mullens has lost any sleep over the PPG of the football offense. Possibly he’s feeling positive (like me) at the development of the football program that is its greatest in history?

The talent level of the roster is higher than ever before. The core of both lines and the second level of the defense are the most talented and deep in UO history.

This year’s Ducks are stacked in every position group on offense. WR’s are taller and faster. The Ducks have experience and capable RB’s who can exploit opposing defenses in the air, out wide or up the middle. I feel different than many thinking that our QB group is talented and deep though obviously inexperienced beyond Brown. With time in Moorhead’s system I look for them to flourish.

Finally, our coaching staff is remarkably talented. Coach Cristobal has mirrored Nick Saban’s model of adding top notch analysts to bolster expertise and coaching for all position groups. Coach C is ramping up coaching for Special Teams and defensive takeaways.

The future of Ducks football is rosy if not Natty. Of Rob Mullen’s worries I doubt that the yards and points per game are high on his list. If he’s anything like me, he’s looking forward to a full slate of fall football wondering how all of the talent on the field and along the sidelines will mesh. It is interesting and exciting to watch.

If Rob Mullen’s fingers are crossed I suspect its about the spiking Covid rates, public health and the looming shadow of another lost season. And, another $80 million deficit.

If ones spouse has interest then one doesn’t need a duck-buddy. 🤦🏻‍♂️🤷‍♂️

Nailed It!

Jon Joseph


I’m not sure what the benefit of stud WRs is if the O is not designed to get them open for short, mid and downfield completions?

I think that is the gist of the concern? If the coaching staff does not produce Ws; especially, Ws over lesser opponents, how good is the staff?

I for one, need to see the stellar recruiting translate into Ws.


We have few clues that Mullens feels anything other than grateful the players demanded he hire Cristobal. He has extended his contract, doubled his salary, and the contract will continue to increase if Cristobal wins. I don’t think Mullens cares about points, the fans do though.

I actually think you have pointed out a weakness that ‘might’ be his downfall. So far he has exceeded what should have been expected after being snookered by slick, and disappointed by Helfrich. I agree if he doesn’t move away from his tendencies, he too, will end up disappointing the Duck faithful.

His game management, and play calling are huge red flags when looking for a coach to lead a team to a national championship. I also think he isn’t like an alcoholic unable to control his tendencies. I just afraid he, like the quote I gave you, is having to learn the hard way, like Saban did.

With the fire power we have now and the OC I have to believe the points will come. Like the game of snooker, I think, hope, Cristobal is just putting the balls in place, in order, before he wins it all. It hasn’t been fun to see, but this is the Cristobal way.


Alabama, Saban had the RB we didn’t recruit out of California. He also had a Heisman receiver(s), we have never had. I give Cristobal a bit of a pass on that question. I think you might be exposing an irrational expectation with this scenario, question too.

I think Cristobal is building the cart, a beautiful chariot, and is now ready to put the horses in front to carry that chariot. In the past we haven’t had the horses to pull the chariot, let alone a chariot to pull. Some would argue Cristobal had at the horses pushing the cart.

I agree with much of what you say, but agree with Lou, the excuses have to stop this year. We score more, or Mario isn’t even learning the hard way!

I hope you are wrong on where you are going with this, but there are very few coaches who reach the pinnacle we all want. Well done on calling out one of the ways we need to improve.

Jon Joseph

Very good point re: Bama.

But Saban has a much harder row to hoe in the SEC, than does Mario in the Pac-12.

Oregon gets UW, CAL, Stanford, OR ST + WSU every year. Saban gets LSU, A+M, Auburn, Ole MIss and Miss St.

Add UGA to the mix last season, and a game at Florida this season.

And the SEC E opponent in the SEC champ game will certainly be at least a top 10 team.

And Miami OOC in 2021 is not a weakling opponent.

Oregon’s SOS simply does not come close to that of Bama.


Agree, but asking if we can now, do what bama does, isn’t even fair. We don’t have the skill players, nor the depth. This is a longterm project, not just insert the spread and hurry it up, and all is good.

Chip caught coaches and programs off guard, it is now important to compete with talent and scheme. We need to keep working on both. Our SOS will only help, when we get to the point where we can compete.

I also say we can beat tosu because I know we could beat them a couple times out of 10. This doesn’t mean I think we win early this year. We have a statistical chance, but I don’t put money on those type of odds.

Jon Joseph

Hayward, we are all cognizant of the big OOC games the conference plays this season.

But as for judging the strength and depth of the conference, these games will be crucial.

BYU: Arizona (Las Vegas), Utah, ASU, at Washington State and at USC. (If BYU goes 5-0 will it be the de facto Pac-12 S champ?)

Stanford vs K State (Dallas – another ‘9 AM’ KO) and at Vanderbilt.

Oregon State at Purdue.


Jon Joseph

Spot on and beautifully and cogently stated.

The offense hasn’t amounted to JACK SQUAT.

Numbers don’t lie.

Nobody can suggest Justin Herbert’s potential was truly maximized. Have we seen one opposing defensive player drop to the turf with a fake injury as was then norm previously?
Do we see the offense go no huddle with play calls using deceptive cue cards? Do we see them snap the ball on successive plays within 10-15 seconds of the previous plays end? Do we EVER have to wait for the ref to place the ball? Do the Oregon Ducks physically wear out opposing defenses?

NO, we don’t.

How much of that is Mario’s ego wanting to change everything to his brand or style? How much of that is on Marcus Arroyo? Did Covid prevent that from being reintroduced?

Let Ol Matt get you straightened out!

This is college football. There is always a weak link or two on most every team. Chip and Helf exploited that regularly. Speed kills and with that speed came opportunity to create angst in opposing defenses where not only did they not know what was coming but never had the time to communicate enough to get everyone set.

The Merganser is correct. MC has not followed through on his opening presser promise to keep the tempo up.

This season is the no excuse for the offense season. The Ducks need to be blowing other teams away of risk losing out again on a natty and continuing to be an also ran.

Hard Fast Finish

I WILL say anything to GET the job. But after that one must perform. The numbers do not lie. Deeds not words. Facta non Verba.

Given the FACT that point totals and demolishing the opposition plays into the selection committees thought process the offense should be pulling out all the stops to dominate yet they haven’t.

We will see what the offense is made of in Ohio, where I’m considered average weight. 😳


If I feel snookered (in the sense of being misled) I can only imagine what Mullens must be feeling. Gobsmacked?

Jon Joseph

‘GOBSMASCKED!” I love it; direct from the Paul Finebaum playbook.