Mario Cristobal wants the Ducks on the national stage.
Everything he's done at Oregon has shown that, including scheduling big games against the best and recruiting the best players in the country to play in those games.
Now, following a season where Oregon won the Pac-12, Rose Bowl, and finished fifth in the country, the nation is taking notice.
Including CBS Sports Tom Fornelli who named Oregon as one of five teams most likely to win its first National Championship in the modern era of college football.
Here's what he wrote.
Oregon is the only program on this list with no national title to claim during any period. It was a mostly mediocre program from 1916 to the mid-1990s before Phil Knight and Mike Bellotti showed up. Even then, things didn't pick up until Bellotti's final seasons of 2007 and 2008. Then came Chip Kelly and a BCS Championship Game appearance against Auburn in 2010. In 2014 -- the first year of the CFP -- Oregon reached the title game under Mark Helfrich and lost to Ohio State.
The Ducks haven't come very close to returning since, though they've started to turn things around under Mario Cristobal. They went 12-2 last season and won the Pac-12. They've also really stepped up their recruiting efforts under Cristobal. Oregon's classes have all finished in the top 15 since he took over with the 2019 class ending up seventh in the 247Sports Composite team rankings. As of the publication of this post, Oregon's 2021 class ranks sixth in the nation. If you want to win a national title, you have to recruit like a national champion. Oregon has begun doing that recently.
Now, moving from Fornelli ignoring the Joey Harrington years that saw the 2001 Ducks get robbed off a National Championship appearance because of a math algorithm, he's speaking the truth.
Since 2005, all National Championship winners have had a blue-chip ratio of over 50%. This statistic is found by dividing the total of four-star and five-star recruits by the number of total scholarship players taken in the previous four cycles.
Currently, Oregon doesn't meet the criteria but give it one more recruiting cycle and they' may be there as they're currently at 40% with one five-star, nine four-stars, and just four three-stars in the current composite rankings for 2021, good for the nation;'s No. 7 class.
In 2018, Cristobal did his best to salvage the recruiting class when Taggart left for Florida State, finishing with the nation's No. 13 class including twelve four-stars, 11 three-stars, and one two-star. However, four-star running back Jamal Elliot shortly transferred from the school, four-star Jalen Hall had to step away from football, and three-star offensive tackle Justin Johnson had to medically retire.
Then, in 2019 under the first full year of recruiting under Cristobal, the Ducks finished with the nation's No. 7 class including the top-ranked recruit in the country, Kayvon Thibodeaux. Overall, they took in one five-star, eleven four-stars, and thirteen three-stars.
2020 saw the class drop to No. 12 nationally, but the program landed more elite-level talent than before with three five-stars in Justin Flowe, Noah Sewell and Dontae Manning, six four-stars, and twelve three-stars.
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It's possible that by 2021 or 2022, the blue-chip ratio will be above 50%. Especially if the Ducks continue to find success on the field and build off of a 12-2, Pac-12 Championship and Rose Bowl Championship season accomplished last year.
It's also worth saying that a blue-chip ratio over 50% isn't necessary to contend but it's much harder. The 2014 Oregon Ducks are the only team to play the National Championship in the College Football Playoff era with a blue-chip ratio below 50%.
In theory, the Ducks could contend sooner than that if some of the three-star talent proves to have been underrated in high school. Last season, the Ducks were one game in Tempe away from playing in the College Football Playoff led by three-star recruits on both sides of the ball in Justin Herbert and Troy Dye.
Then next season, the Ducks are projected to have the nation's second-best defense, led by former four-stars Jevon Holland, Deommodore Lenoir, Thomas Graham, Mykael Wright, Mase Funa and five-star Thibodeaux, due to the elevated recruiting on the defensive side of the ball.
If Tyler Shough, a former four-star recruit himself, can step in and replace Justin Herbert and master the new offensive scheme designed by offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, the Ducks could contend as soon as next season.
Contending for a National Championship at Oregon is what has been attracting recruits as of late, and it'll be up to them to make it happen when they step on campus.
[Be sure to listen to the latest Talkin' Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest former Oregon men's basketball head coach Ernie Kent].