Cristobal’s Problem? It’s the Oregon Fans!

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials

Yes, you read that right; the problem for Mario Cristobal are the fans at Oregon. He runs a team under an old philosophy, an old way of winning. Since then offenses have changed and what is required to win has also changed, as his mentor has been at the forefront of that trend that now wins national championships. Meanwhile Greybeard-age Oregon fans like many of you and I have watched a ton of Oregon football over the years and witnessed scads of coaching styles.

We know what works and what doesn’t by the simple eyeball test.

Oregon fans who know very little of the football Xs and Os have also watched, read and processed so much Oregon football information over so many years–they can tell with their gut feelings from watching if things are clicking or not. I’ve heard from many of them by email, but also in the new forum. A common refrain is appearing often, and one that I personally identify with…

“I like Cristobal and want him to succeed, but nearly half-way into his fourth season it becomes apparent that what we see is what we are going to continue getting.”

We’ve seen a ton of Oregon football, my feathered friends. I will not recount the Brooks, Bellotti and Kelly years, because you lived them too, you saw the press conferences, the statements and the results–and you know that what you are watching now is disjointed on the football field. I have been humbled by all the amazing posts written in the forum about the current state of Oregon football, as so many have nailed it better than I. And because of the protection givens in the forum–we see more diversity of thought, because people feel safe to post. The result is learning from others like I did not anticipate…

Not a lot of fans in the stands at Stanford either!

Too Many Fans are Losing Interest…

I am concerned about the attendance at Autzen, because the entire athletic budget depends upon it. And things looked pretty sparse for the last two games compared to what we are accustomed to seeing. I’ve had a number of fans tell me how their spouse or friends who admittedly are fringe fans–and loved the high scoring days–have been tuning out of the current Oregon football program. We need all the fans on-board to succeed, and when a significant percentage have checked out, the impact on Our Beloved Ducks in all sports is going to be felt. I have a text from an intense Duck fan right now…

“I’m so furious I don’t want to even watch a game for a few weeks. MC’s (Mario Cristobal) ‘habits’ are so frustrating, and the Prima-Donna nature of the players are an affront I’m not willing to tolerate much more.”

This is a die-hard fan in his 60s, and what he wrote is felt by many others. For proof, go here or here and read about the concern for the direction of the program, as people have heard a ton of talk over the last three years that does not match what they saw against a mid-lin Cardinal team.

It is One in Ten-Million…

How many CPAs do you know could be great salesmen? How many great salesmen (and saleswomen) could be CPAs? A football coach has to be a master at the Xs and Os, and yet be a champion recruiter/salesman at the same time. How many people are built like that? Now you add the CEO management skills of which few people have to run an enterprise spread out in so many areas that demand their time and attention. The top CEOs are paid millions, and the great football coaches have those skills. So how many people could be a world-class CEO, a champion salesman and a CPA at the same time?

It is one in ten-million, if not more.

You cannot expect every coach to be like Nick Saban.

That is why there are so few football coaches like a Nick Saban. Most people with those skills are getting the 40 million per year to run major corporations, as they are rare, the coveted men and women. My point? The other 98% of football coaches have flaws, as none are going to be another Saban. Some like Mark Helfrich, who can do the Xs and Os, but are not leaders who can run a large enterprise. Some like Mario, are great leaders and recruiters–but have flaws in other areas.

Can you live with Mario’s flaws?

It is an important question for Duck fans, as we are clearly going to need to be much more patient than we thought. And yes, it begs so many other questions that we can banter about in the forum. But if Cristobal’s problem is Oregon fans, then perhaps we need to reconsider our approach as fans to Oregon football for a while? Trust me, this is hard for me too!

You recall my expression about how “Greatness and Weakness Emerge Early,” and we have seen weakness from Mario on the offensive side from the very beginning to now. We have also seen greatness in recruiting, culture, leadership and being an exemplary representative of the University of Oregon. Who doesn’t like Cristobal? (Other than Husky fans?) Perhaps with time and lessons learned–he will allow his CEO skills to truly place others in charge of the areas where he is weak?

So…YOU Want Cristobal OUT?

For me? No, as I agree with the majority in that we like so much of who Cristobal is as a person and his demeanor/leadership that we are willing to wait for him to learn on the job longer. But many are beginning to question whether he can learn the lessons that we watched other coaches absorb over the years. Yet….what are our choices?

Mario Cristobal at OSU_Fox Sports Video.jpg

Can we return to that offense again?

The top coaches are not leaving the attractive gig they are in, and thus you are left hiring a newbie rising star or an unproven assistant that can work, but often does not. Besides–that is what we have now. I am changing my perspective as a fan because I now know that Mario learns everything the hard way, and it takes many, many times before he does. It will blow many seasons, but his recruiting of coaches and players may make the wait that much more rewarding later?

Can you see the path of transformation I am beginning to make as a devoted Duck fan? Perhaps if others embark upon this–Cristobal’s problem won’t be the Oregon fans…

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

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo by Tom Corno

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