Cristobal to Miami: Potential Candidates to be Oregon’s Next Head Coach

Photo courtesy of Oregon athletics

After five seasons at Oregon, head coach Mario Cristobal returned home to Miami to coach at his alma mater.

Despite significant on-field success, retaining coaches has been an issue for the Ducks. The next head coach at Oregon will be the fifth since 2010.

Examining the Job

Oregon has solidified itself as the team to beat in the Pac-12 over the last several years. With USC landing Lincoln Riley, this next hire will be crucial in determining which direction the program heads in the future.

Oregon has played for two national titles since 2010 and has won the Pac-12 several times, so it is no stranger to winning. Still, its last two head coaches have left for other Power 5 jobs. Does this mean there is something going on behind the scenes? Who knows, but we have yet to see Oregon as a destination job.

Nonetheless, the next coach will inherit a program that is on good footing. Winning the conference in two of the last three years is a perfect example of that.

UCLA HC Chip Kelly

Kelly spent four years at Oregon from 2009 to 2012. While he eventually left for the NFL, he took Oregon to never-before-seen heights. The Ducks went 46-7 over those four seasons, including a berth in the 2011 BCS National Championship Game.

Kelly spent three years as head coach for the Philadelphia Eagles before being fired. After a brief stint with the San Francisco 49ers, he landed back in the Pac-12 at UCLA.

Winning has not come easy for Kelly in Los Angeles as he has had to completely rebuild that program. He was finally able to taste some success this season during an 8-4 campaign.

If Oregon would welcome Kelly back with open arms, one would have to assume it is an opportunity that neither side can pass up.

California HC Justin Wilcox

Wilcox has reportedly been looking to get out of Berkeley recently. That paired with being a former Oregon player makes him a candidate for this job.

Wilcox has only gone 26-28 in five seasons at Cal, but he is considered to be in a tough situation. He is considered by many to be a defensive guru, and his connections to the West Coast will bode well on the recruiting trail.

Wilcox might not be the sure thing that Oregon is looking for, but he could blossom given the right opportunity. Is Oregon willing to take that risk?

Auburn HC Bryan Harsin

Harsin has just been at Auburn for a year, but there are already rumblings of him wanting to head back to the West Coast.

At Boise State, Harsin kept the Broncos at virtually the same standard as predecessor Chris Petersen. While there, he was mentioned as a candidate for jobs at Oregon and Washington when they came open a few years ago. Now, he is mentioned for them again.

There are mixed feelings about Harsin at Auburn. Some believe he isn’t a fit, and others believe he is the guy. Regardless, Auburn is likely to have a new president and athletics director in the near future, and it is hard to win with that much turmoil in an athletic department.

Is Harsin willing to brace the storm? Or will he return to an area where he’s more comfortable? His words indicate that he is committed to Auburn, but coaches rarely say otherwise.

Boise State HC Andy Avalos

Avalos returned to coach his alma mater of Boise State this year after spending the previous two seasons as Oregon’s defensive coordinator. At Oregon, he solidified himself as one of the bright young minds in the game, which ultimately landed him a head coaching gig.

Boise State finished 7-5 in 2021, which is its worst record since 1998. However, it is a transition year for that program and it was still able to pull off big wins over teams like Fresno State and BYU.

Avalos has a lot more to prove as a head coach, but his already impressive track record makes him someone to watch.