Mario Cristobal

Chip Kelly to Alabama as OC under Nick Saban makes zero sense

Chip Kelly to Alabama as OC under Nick Saban makes zero sense

Chip Kelly doesn't have a job.

Alabama has a vacancy at offensive coordinator.

1+1 in the sports world of connect the dots = Kelly to Alabama.

However: reality + logic = no way in hell that happens.

Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban has been left with a huge job opening after former Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, who held the job for all of one game, accepted the newly vacated job of offensive coordinator with the Atlanta Falcons.

While a Saban-Kelly marriage would be as entertaining as all get out, it would appear to be far more likely that the vacancy would be filled by Oregon offensive coordinator and former Florida International head coach Mario Cristobal, who was Alabama's offensive line coach before joining the Ducks. Even former UO coach Mark Helfrich seems like a more viable candidate for Alabama than Kelly.  

Still, the immediate hot rumor is that Kelly could become a candidate in Tuscaloosa. 

But that makes about as much sense as Kelly returning to Oregon as OC. Here are the reasons why:

  • Kelly has made it clear he wants to stay in the NFL. To do so, he must stay in the NFL, even if it's as an assistant or a consultant for his good pal, Bill Belichik at New England. Coaching at Alabama would do nothing to improve Kelly's chances of remaining in the league. He must reinvent himself as an NFL coach. He can't do that in college. 
  • Kelly runs what was a revolutionary and up-tempo offense that made Oregon a national power. Although Kelly didn't win big in the NFL, his offenses were typically quite productive both in Philadelphia and San Francisco despite having limitations at quarterback. But his style wouldn't play well with Alabama's defensive-minded philosophies.In the past, Saban has complained about the impact no-huddle offenses have had on college football, particularly his defenses, which dominate conventional offenses but have struggled against no-huddle teams with dynamic quarterbacks (Cam Newton, Johnny Manziel, Deshaun Watson).  The last thing Saban wants is to see his defense on the field for 35 minutes while Kelly is calling a play every 15 seconds.  This reason also makes Helfrich appear to be an unlikely candidate, although he does have a pro-style background he could lean on. 
  • If Kelly wants to return to college he would do so as a head coach. If nothing materializes in the NFL, Kelly would become a hot head coaching in the college ranks when jobs come open next season. He could use coaching a year at Alabama as a springboard to a college head coaching job. But, again, he wants to remain in the NFL and he wouldn't need a boost of any kind to land a big time job in college. So, coaching at Alabama for one season doesn't help him at all. 
  • Speaking of being one-and-done, why would Saban want Kelly as a rent-a-coach for a year? It wouldn't benefit Saban to have Kelly waltz in, reinvent the offense and then leave after one season. Again, Cristobal would be a better choice than Kelly would be for one year. 
  • Kelly could possibly adapt his offensive style, but why would he want to do that for a season? Plus, for all we know Kelly would be an average coordinator of a conventional offense. His calling card is a spread, up-tempo offense, not pro-style attacks. 
  • Could you imagine this clash of egos? Think Godzilla vs. King Kong. Saban is a bully. He intimidated and verbally abused Lane Kiffin to the point where he left Alabama to take the head job at Florida Atlantic. Nobody leaves Alabama for Florida Atlantic. But Kiffin did. Saban couldn't bully Kelly like that. Kelly wouldn't take it. And Saban likely wouldn't want someone that strong working under him, potentially undermining his authority, and that works both ways. Kelly taking orders from Saban on how to run the offense probably wouldn't go over very well. I don't care how good of pals they are. 

To be fair here, maybe this is all too negative. Maybe Saban wants to get some of that spread attack philosophy into his system to see how it meshes with his defense. Maybe their friendship would derail any potential clashes. Maybe, just maybe, it would be a match made in heaven.

Or, maybe math doesn't lies and this coaching equation is a non-starter. 

I'm betting on the latter. 

Official: Taggart adds Mario Cristobal as co-offensive coordinator and run-game coordinator

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Official: Taggart adds Mario Cristobal as co-offensive coordinator and run-game coordinator

Oregon football has officially released the hiring of Alabama's Mario Cristobal. CSNNW reported last week that Cristobal was heading to Oregon.

Here is the official release. 

EUGENE, Ore. – Willie Taggart announced the addition Mario Cristobal as the Ducks' co-offensive coordinator and run-game coordinator on Tuesday. He will also coach the offensive line at Oregon.

Cristobal spent the last four seasons at Alabama as the assistant head coach and offensive line coach, helping the Crimson Tide to the National Championship after the 2015 season, as well as a runner-up finish following this past season. Cristobal's offensive line ranked in the top 25 nationally in 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 Crisobal'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.

Mario Cristobal leaving Alabama for Oregon

Mario Cristobal leaving Alabama for Oregon

Oregon has hired Alabama offensive line coach Mario Cristobal as the Ducks’ new co-offensive coordinator and run game coordinator.

CSNNW reported last week that Crisobal was headed to Oregon.

Cristobal is known as one of the best recruiters in the country, 247Sports ranked him within the top 10 recruiting coaches for the past two seasons. He reportedly has strong recruiting ties in Florida where he played at the University of Miami. Cristobal has spent the past four seasons at Alabama, helping it win the national title last season. 

Before coaching at Alabama, Cristobal spent six seasons as the head coach at Florida International where he had a record of 27-27. 

Cristobal's Coaching Career

1998-2000: Miami, graduate assistant.

2001-2002: Rutgers, offensive tackles/tight ends.

2003: Rutgers, offensive line.

2004-2005: Miami, tight ends.

2006: Miami, offensive line

2007-2012: Florida International, head coach (27-47 record).

2013-present: Alabama, offensive line.

Alabama OL coach Mario Cristobal could be headed to Oregon

Alabama OL coach Mario Cristobal could be headed to Oregon

Alabama offensive line coach Mario Cristobal could become Oregon's new offensive coordinator and/or offensive line coach, according to a source.

It's unclear if Cristobal, if he accepts a position with Oregon, would handle both duties or just one after new Oregon coach Willie Taggart's coaching staff completely shakes out.

As of now, Taggart has hired three offensive assistants, Donte Pimpleton (running backs), Jimmie Daughtery (wide receivers) and David Reeves (tight ends), who has not yet been formally announced by Oregon. 

It would appear unlikely that Cristobal would go from coaching offensive line at Alabama to taking the same position at Oregon. On Alabama's website, he is listed as the "Assistant head coach/tackles and tight end/recruiting coordinator."

It makes more sense that the former Florida International head coach would make the leave for Oregon if he were to become the Ducks' offensive coordinator.

According to a source, Cristobal's name has been floated around the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex as a likely coaching candidate at Oregon. Furthermore, FootballScoop.com reported last week that Cristobal is fielding offers from programs, including a potential job as offensive line coach at Florida under coach Jim McElwain, who was a top target of Oregon's after it fired Mark Helfrich on Nov. 29. The report also stated that Taggart has offered Cristobal a "senior position" with the Ducks that would include coaching offensive line.

It's possible Cristobal could become Oregon's offensive line coach with the added title of "assistant head coach." But someone must coordinate the offense and Taggart is running out of coaching positions.

Cristobal would be a fantastic addition to the coaching staff and certainly could help the Ducks recruit the fertile grounds that Alabama has feasted on under coach Nick Saban, going for his fifth national title with the Crimson Tide tonight.  

Just to be clear, nothing concrete has been reported regarding Cristobal heading to  Oregon. But according to source information and the reports that are out there, the Ducks appear to be in serious play to land Cristobal's services. 

If they aren't, then Taggart must have mystery candidates under wraps to coach offensive line and be the offensive coordinator.  Nola.com reported last month that the Taggart had been in contact with LSU wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig to potentially become the Ducks' offensive coordinator. Last week, 247sports reported the same thing

But if Craig were the top target for offensive coordinator, why hasn't it happened yet? Waiting on Cristobal is more logical given that his team has one more game tonight. 

Cristobal, who reportedly has strong recruiting ties in Florida where he played at the University of Miami, has spent the past four seasons at Alabama, helping it win the national title last season. 

Before coaching at Alabama, Cristobal spent six seasons as the head coach at Florida International where he had a record of 27-27. 

Cristobal, a Miami native, lettered four years at Miami from 1988-92 while playing under Jimmie Johnson and Dennis Erickson. The Hurricanes won two national titles during Cristobal's career, in 1989 and 1991. After college, Cristobal signed as a free agent with the Denver Broncos in 1994 and played for the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe in 1995 and 1996.

Cristobal's Coaching Career

1998-2000: Miami, graduate assistant.

2001-2002: Rutgers, offensive tackles/tight ends.

2003: Rutgers, offensive line.

2004-2005: Miami, tight ends.

2006: Miami, offensive line

2007-2012: Florida International, head coach (27-47 record).

2013-present: Alabama, offensive line.