Willie Taggart to Florida State is happening, so now its Oregon’s turn to hop on the coaching carousel.
It’s a tough loss for Oregon, which loses Taggart after just one 7-5 season. There are few schools that could pry a coach from Oregon, but Florida State is one of them, especially for a Florida native.
Now, the Ducks have a hire to make, and Feldman already has an early list, featuring four names: Oregon offensive coordinator Mario Cristobal, Fresno State and former Cal head coach Jeff Tedford, Washington State head coach Mike Leach, and former Florida head coach Jim McElwain.
Some coaches I expect to get strong consideration for the #Oregon job: OC Mario Cristobal; #FresnoState's Jeff Tedford; #WAZZU's Mike Leach & ex #UF coach Jim McElwain. The latter 3 have legit connections w/i the Ducks power base. Cristobal would help w/ continuity & recruiting.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) December 5, 2017
This is a pretty interesting group, and there’s a decent chance that the eventual hire doesn’t come from it at all, but all have interesting credentials.
Cristobal is currently at Oregon, is a top recruiter, and was a pretty successful head coach at FIU, basically building that program from the ground up and making bowls in 2010 and 2011 before being controversially fired after a down 2012 season. He has also coached at Alabama, Miami, and Rutgers.
Tedford recently hopped back into coaching, taking over Fresno State and immediately taking it to the Mountain West title game, where it lost to Boise State a week after defeating the Broncos in the regular season. The longtime Cal head coach was 82-57 from 2002-2012.
Leach is definitely the wild card of the group, thriving in recent years after turning around a terrible Washington State program that hadn’t made a bowl since 2003 when he took over. He now has experience in the Northwest, but is a bristly personality. Still, on the field, it would probably be a strong hire.
McElwain, a Montana native and Eastern Washington alumnus, is also an interesting name. Before a strange end to his Florida tenure, he won two SEC East titles in as many years and was 22-16 at Colordo State, going 10-3 in 2014.
Yahoo!’s Pat Forde tosses in one more name: Kevin Sumlin.
Expect Kevin Sumlin and Jeff Tedford to get involved at Oregon. Among others. https://t.co/Ty0qX0OyGp
— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) December 5, 2017
Sumlin didn’t bring Texas A&M to the heights it desired, but he has been a successful head coach, and can certainly recruit and sell a flashy program.
For his part, Oregon great and current SB Nation contributor Geoff Schwartz would just promote Cristobal from the list that Feldman put out there.
Oh no… just give it to Cristobal and get moving. Those other guys don't excite me at all https://t.co/NKanlNcW8j
— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) December 5, 2017
Oregon is a very interesting job, and it looked like Taggart was on his way to bringing it back after things got stale under Mark Helfrich. This will be a very interesting hire, and a crucial one for a program that has flirted with being elite.