Should Mario Cristobal Stay Or Leave Oregon?

After a 34-31 win at UCLA, the Oregon Ducks improved to 6-1 and are now ranked 7th. With no ranked teams remaining on the schedule, the Ducks have an excellent chance of running the table. With a bit of help, Oregon could get a spot in the playoffs.   

Rumors are swirling about head coach Mario Cristobal considering leaving Oregon for conference rival USC despite the excellent season.  The rumor should by this time have faded off into the sunset. Cristobal himself chuckled at the idea that a move to Southern California is in the cards. But is there a scenario where Cristobal could, or should, abandon the Ducks?

The possibility of landing in the sunshine state could be too good to pass up.  Down in Miami, coach Manny Diaz has been on the hot seat, and rightly so. He entered the season with D’Eriq King at quarterback.  The last time the Hurricanes had as much talent under center was when Ken Dorsey played two decades ago.

King could have opted for the NFL but came back to lead Miami to big things this season. Diaz muffled terribly initially with King, and in fact, the Hurricanes nearly dropped their first three. After King went down with the shoulder injury, Miami was 2-4 entering last week’s contest against the 18th ranked North Carolina State.  Diaz was clearly on the hot seat for his early miscues with a talent such as King at quarterback.  Is Diaz still on the hot seat? It depends on what happens the rest of the way. If the team can rally around backup Tyler Van Dyke, then Diaz could save his job.

In any event, Cristobal comes into the picture, mainly since he was born in Miami, played in Miami, and won a national title at Miami. The fit is obvious and would be very tempting for Cristobal should Diaz get the ax come season’s end. The question is whether or not Cristobal would jump ship.

We already know he wouldn’t leave for USC, and it really seems as though he’s committed to Oregon for the long run. However, there generally is one job that is too tempting for one to say no to. Is Miami that job? 

The only way this becomes possible is if Miami flounders the rest of the way. The injury to King may have just saved Diaz his job since he can always argue that losing his top talent was the reason for the bad season. However, if Diaz does go and Miami offers Cristobal all and more than what he could imagine, the decision will be tough to make.

Cristobal has been the head coach at Oregon since 2018. He went 9-4 in his first season, which included a bowl win against Michigan State. In 2019, he was voted Pac-12 coach of the year, leading the Ducks to an 11-2 regular season record and a trip to the Rose Bowl. In the conference-only scheduled 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ducks went 4-2.  The season culminated in a loss to Iowa State in the Fiesta Bowl.

Will Cristobal leave? That is still up in the air, but the gut feeling is that Diaz will not be fired in Miami due to losing King and a likely stronger finish to around .500.  If Diaz were to go, should Cristobal take the bait? 

It depends on what the Ducks accomplish the rest of the year. If they find a way into the playoffs and shock the college football world with a title, the money offered would be too big for anyone to pass up. I would say in that situation, and that situation only, should Cristobal walk off into the sunset from Oregon, leaving on top, and try to lead another team to a title.

Chance are, none of that will happen, and Cristobal remains at Oregon in his quest to lead the Ducks to the top of the college football world.