What Mario Cristobal can learn from Mike Bellotti's decision to stay at Oregon


It is that time of the year in college football when the coaching carousel begins. 

All over the country, programs that are struggling are letting their head coaches go in order to start over. 

On the other hand, those programs who are ascending in the right direction reflects positively on its head coach and therefore makes that coach desirable and attractive to other programs looking to rebuild. 

Unfortunately, this is a weighing issue in the Oregon Football program. 

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Under three-year head coach Mario Cristobal, the Oregon Duck football program is back to national relevance. He has taken the Ducks to a 9-4 record in 2018, a 12-2 record in 2019, a Pac-12 championship and a Rose Bowl victory.

Cristobal has also signed the top recruiting class in the Pac-12 conference in back-to-back years.

Now, Cristobal is up for a contract extension. Currently, he is the 11th lowest paid coach in the Pac-12 conference and was set to negotiate new terms before the global pandemic hit. Those talks have resumed recently, but is it too late?

There is a head coach vacancy at Auburn… 

Auburn fired Gus Malzahn Sunday morning after a 6-4 record in his eighth season as Tigers head coach. Cristobal is one of the rumored targets as a former Nick Saban assistant coach. 

On Monday, Cristobal addressed those rumors.


[RELATED]: Mario Cristobal says he has not been contacted by Auburn for vacant HC job

At least Cristobal is being transparent with the media-- as he always has -- which is refreshing after how former Oregon head coach Willie Taggart handled his situation (but more on that to come later).

One coach who had a similar situation arise during his tenure at Oregon was Mike Bellotti. 

Bellotti will go down as one of the greats to coach at Oregon. Throughout his 14-year coaching period, the Ducks amassed a 116-55 overall record, made 12 bowl appearances and had a 6-6 bowl record. Not to mention, he is the winningest coach in Oregon football history. 

During his successful time at Oregon, he had offers on the table to coach elsewhere, specifically USC and Ohio State. 

But Bellotti chose to stay at Oregon. 

He joined the latest Talkin’ Ducks with host Jordan Kent to discuss the reasons why he decided to stay at Oregon and give insight into what Mario Cristobal might be thinking about when weighing the options:

“The opportunity - and I had several opportunities to go, some for more money, some for more prestigious schools - deep down in my heart and in my mind I said ‘Am I going to be able to keep my staff together?’ The answer was probably no. ‘Will it be a better place to live and raise my family?’ Probably no. ‘Will it be a better place to win a National Championship?’ Probably yes. And I think these are all questions Mario Cristobal has to ask himself.

“Basically, is it what I want? I always felt like Oregon was a special place and when you do something special there, it counts for more. When I first got there, it wasn’t on the beaten path of national championship football teams. The combination of great players, great coaches, great support staff, uniforms and all the support from Nike has made it different now. 

“But I think coach Cristobal has done a great job and that’s why he’s getting that type of attention. That’s what you always want as a coach, you want those opportunities to come because you’re doing so well. You don’t want to be there because you have to find a job because you don’t have a job….

“Auburn may not be the place that floats his boat. To be in the same division and in the same league as Alabama, is a tough place to go. Does he have a better opportunity to win at Oregon than Auburn? Probably…

“The money was never a factor. It was the opportunity to win and was I going into somewhere where you had the chance to build something or were you going into it where it had a chance where it might slide or go into a decline? Obviously, you think about those things.”


We will know soon whether the Ducks will #ExtendCristobal and lock up their head coach for years to come, or Cristobal just might take his talents to the SEC.