It's been a week since Andy Avalos returned home to take over as head coach of the Boise State Broncos and the Oregon Ducks' search to replace him is heating up.
The Athletic's Bruce Feldman tweeted out a list of candidates Friday morning which include, but not limited to, Seattle Seahawks Assistant Head Coach Clint Hurtt; ex-Texas defensive coordinator Chris Ash, Tennessee defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley, Atlanta Falcons run game coordinator (and former Alabama defensive coordinator) Tosh Lupoi, Mississippi State defensive coordinator Zach Arnett; Georgia co-defensive coordinator Glenn Schumann, and Army defensive coordinator Nate Woody.
Hurtt has been with Seattle since 2017 serving as assistant head coach and defensive line coach for the Seahawks. Prior to that, he was outside linebackers coach (2015-16) and an assistant defensive line coach for the Chicago Bears (2014). He's also spent 13 years working in college football which includes being Louisville's defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator, adding the title of associate head coach from 2011-13. Hurtt also served as recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach for Miami in the late 2000s.
Recruiting along the defensive line has been one of the weak points of Oregon's latest classes and the Ducks are losing two starters to the 2021 NFL Draft, too. Hurtt coached 14 NFL Draft picks during his time in college.
Chris Ash has been involved in plenty of rumors including joining Urban Meyer in Jacksonville, Dan Mullen at Florida, or staying at Texas. He's set to have a formal meeting with new Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian on his future with the program soon.
With Tennessee hiring Kevin Steele, Derrick Ansley has become more available despite being listed as defensive coordinator on the Vols' website still. In Ansley's first season as defensive coordinator in 2019, Tennessee finished in the top 25 nationally in total defense, pass defense and interceptions despite having 11 different first-time starters throughout the season. The Vols finished third in the SEC in sacks (34), fourth in pass defense (194.0), fourth in interceptions (15) and sixth in total defense (334.5).
Tosh Lupoi has been speculated as a key Oregon target all along. He and Cristobal coached together at Alabama before the current Ducks head coach left to become the co-offensive coordinator at Oregon. While at California and Alabama, Lupoi was one of the primary recruiters for seven different five-star recruits including Najee Harris, Tua Tagovailia, Keenan Allen, and Dylan Moses.
Arnett interviewed for the position on Monday before also interviewing for LSU's vacant defensive coordinator position on Tuesday. Arnett served as San Diego State's defensive coordinator for two seasons from 2018 to 2019 before joining Mike Leach's staff at Mississippi State. His 3-3-5 defense, a scheme that gave Oregon fits in its Fiesta Bowl loss to Iowa State, ranked above average in multiple categories in the SEC despite numerous injuries and opt-outs: 6th in points allowed per game (28.3), 4th in yards allowed per game (380.3), 4th in rushing yards allowed (125.3), 6th in sacks (25), 5th in interceptions (11), and 6th in fumble recoveries (7).
Mississippi State inked Arnett to a three-year extension in December worth north of $1 million annually in December per Ben Portnoy of The Dispatch. Andy Avalos' base salary was $815,000 and was due to make $865,000 in 2021 as Oregon Ducks defensive coordinator per The Oregonian.
Schumann, in his first season as co-defensive coordinator, helped coach Georgia's defense to be the best team defense in the nation, allowing only 12.6 points per game and 276 yards per game Also, Cristobal did hire Aaron Feld from Georgia which has been a home run hire for him, so there's history for promoting assistants from that program at Oregon.
Woody, who has coached for 29 years and coordinated for 19 years, runs a 3-4 scheme and has experience as defensive coordinator for Army (2020), a defensive analyst at Michigan (2019), defensive coordinator and outside linebackers coach at Georgia Tech (2018), defensive coordinator at Appalachian State (2013-17) and defensive coordinator at Wofford (2000-12).
Mario Cristobal is surely looking at more candidates than these ones, but do not be surprised to see any of these names on the Oregon sideline next season.