Oregon football announced today that Mario Cristobal will become its 34th head coach, replacing Willie Taggart, who left for Florida State earlier this week.
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The release from the university:
EUGENE, Ore. – University of Oregon director of athletics Rob Mullens announced today that Mario Cristobal has been named the permanent head football coach of the Ducks. Cristobal will be introduced at a press conference by UO President Michael H. Schill and Mullens on Friday (Dec. 8) at 4:00 p.m. in the Sanders Room at the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex.
“Mario’s leadership skills, work ethic, and experience makes him a perfect fit to lead the Oregon football program,” said Mullens. “He has a passion for Oregon and a vision for our future success, and has made a significant impact on our student-athletes during his time here. We look forward to a great future on the horizon for Ducks under Mario’s leadership.”
Cristobal is in his first season with the Ducks and served as the co-offensive coordinator, run game coordinator, and offensive line coach before being promoted to interim head coach on Tuesday. He spent four seasons as the offensive line coach at the University of Alabama, following a six-year tenure as the head football coach at Florida International University from 2007-12.
“I’m excited and honored to be the head football coach of the Oregon Ducks,” said Cristobal. “The rich tradition combined with the incredible wave of momentum that has been created throughout the season and the recruiting process is something we believe will be unstoppable, and this will lead us to fulfill the great expectations of our great University and our fan base.”
In his first year at Oregon, Cristobal improved on an already strong Oregon running game as the Ducks finished the regular season with more than 3,000 yards on the ground, averaging 268 yards rushing per game. The Ducks’ rushing offense was ranked eighth in the FBS at the end of the regular season and rushed for 40 touchdowns, the most for Oregon since 2014, while averaging 5.4 yards per rush. Senior running back Royce Freeman ran for 122.92 yards per game, ranking 11th in the country while scoring 16 rushing touchdowns, tied for 12th-most in the country.
In seven games started by sophomore quarterback Justin Herbert, the Ducks’ offensive line allowed him to be sacked just six times. Under Cristobal, standout senior left tackle Tyrell Crosby allowed only three quarterback hurries and no sacks on his way to earning the Morris Trophy as the top offensive lineman in the Pac-12 as well as first-team all-Pac 12 honors while also earning all-America consideration.
Cristobal spent four seasons at Alabama as the assistant head coach and offensive line coach, helping the Crimson Tide to the CFP National Championship following the 2015 season, as well as a runner-up finish after the 2016 season. Cristobal’s offensive line ranked in the top 25 nationally in fewest sacks allowed in each of his first two seasons, and in 2016 helped pave the way for the nation’s 11th-best rushing attack (246.7 ypg) and produced SEC Offensive Player of the Year Jalen Hurts.
Alabama’s offensive lines produced a plethora of standout players and NFL draft picks under Cristobal, including first-team All-American and 2015 first-round draft pick Ryan Kelly and 2014 freshman All-American Cam Robinson, who went on to win the Outland Trophy in Cristobal’s final year with Alabama. Cristobal came to Oregon with a reputation as a top recruiter. He was named the National Recruiter of the Year by 247Sports in the 2015 cycle, and was ranked as the nation’s No. 2 recruiter in the country by 247Sports at the time of his hiring based on the final haul he brought to Alabama.
Prior to joining Nick Saban’s staff at Alabama, Cristobal spent six seasons (2007-12) as the head coach at Florida International, solidifying his standing as one of the country’s top young college football coaches and recruiters. Cristobal led the Panthers to the most successful year in program history in 2011, capturing a program-record eight wins, including a road win at eventual co-Big East Champion Louisville.
Cristobal was named the Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year in 2010 after leading FIU to its first Sun Belt Conference championship and a bowl victory over MAC champion Toledo, and he finished his FIU career having produced NFL talents such as T.Y. Hilton and Jonathan Cyprien.
Cristobal coached at Miami (Fla.), his alma mater, under Larry Coker for three years before accepting the head job at FIU, working as tight ends coach for the 2004 and 2005 seasons and coaching multiple tight ends that turned into NFL draft picks, including first-round pick and All-Pro Greg Olsen. In 2006, Cristobal took over a Miami offensive line that featured four new starters and saw a 39 percent decrease in sacks allowed from the previous season (36 to 22).
Cristobal spent three years (2001-03) at Rutgers under head coach Greg Schiano, working with the offensive tackles and tight ends for the first two seasons before shifting his focus solely to the offensive line in 2003. Cristobal was a critical factor in Rutgers’ resurgence to competitiveness and helped lay the foundation in recruiting and coaching for a program that went from obscurity to college football’s upper echelon in a matter of five years. Cristobal helped Rutgers to a 5-7 mark in 2003, the school’s best record since 1998. One of Cristobal’s most accomplished pupils was tight end L.J. Smith, the Philadelphia Eagles’ second-round pick in the 2003 NFL Draft.
Cristobal began his coaching career in 1998 as a graduate assistant at Miami, working with the Hurricanes for three seasons under Butch Davis. He joined the Hurricanes’ staff six years after finishing a four-year playing career at Miami as a standout offensive lineman under Hall of Fame coach Jimmy Johnson. Cristobal was a first-team All-Big East selection in 1992 and helped the Hurricanes to a pair of national championships (1989, 1991).
A native of Miami and a prep standout at Christopher Columbus High School, Cristobal graduated from Miami in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and later earned a master’s degree from Miami in 2001. Following his college career, Cristobal signed a free-agent contract with the Denver Broncos in 1994 and then played for the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe in 1995 and 1996.
Cristobal and his wife, Jessica, were married in June 2006 and have two sons, Mario Mateo and Rocco.