The hype around the Oregon Ducks football program has only spread since promoting Mario Cristobal as head coach.
In just three seasons, Cristobal has won the Pac-12 twice, brought in the Pac-12's best recruiting class three years running, and has always elevated the standard within the program.
Now, even some national sportswriters see what Cristobal's building in Eugene and have bought into the hype as well, including Fox Sports' Colin Cowherd who named Oregon as one of eight teams to dominate the next five years of college football.
It's easy to see why.
First, Mario Cristobal has the Ducks recruiting at unprecedented levels and better than anyone else in the Pac-12. In 2020, Oregon won the Pac-12 while having the youngest roster in all of FBS football and losing multiple NFL-caliber players due to opt-outs. All those young players will only get stronger, faster, and better in Oregon's developmental programs.
Next, Oregon seems poised to become the national brand within the Pac-12 between its brand off the field and the results on it. Looking at Cowherd's rankings, he has Clemson as the only ACC team, Ohio State as the only Big Ten team, and Oklahoma as the only Big 12 team. He sees Oregon developing its football program to be on a similar level as those teams within their conferences. Where Oregon enters each season expecting to win the Pac-12 and compete for a College Football Playoff berth.
Looking at the rest of the Pac-12 conference, that's not an unreasonable expectation. Oregon's recruiting should only greaten the talent gap between itself and other Pac-12 opponents and sooner than later, the Ducks will be odds on favorite to be Pac-12 Champions more often than not. Yes, Washington and USC will have years where it competes with Oregon and the Ducks will suffer the occasional upset, but Oregon should win the vast majority of its games going forward.
After the early national signing period, the nation's top-six recruiting classes in 2021 are the only six college football programs to have won a playoff game. That creates a feedback loop where the elite prospects want to play for your school, and Oregon's 2015 Rose Bowl win puts it in rare company. Already, the program has players enrolling in Eugene with the goal of winning a National Championship, and the way the program has developed under Cristobal, a playoff appearance looks to be a matter of when, rather than if.