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Oregon Football: 11 Coaching Candidates to Replace Mario Cristobal

Mario Cristobal, Oregon Ducks Football

Oregon is the latest college football program looking for a head coach, as Mario Cristobal is leaving Eugene to take over at Miami. Cristobal went 35-13 with the Ducks after taking over in 2017. He also guided the program to two Pac-12 titles and an appearance in the conference championship this year.

Who could replace Cristobal at Oregon? Here are 11 names to watch in the coaching search:

11 Coaching Candidates to Replace Mario Cristobal at Oregon

Dave Aranda, Head Coach, Baylor
Aranda has expressed he's committed to Baylor, but his name could pop in this coaching search and Oregon should at least inquire if he has any interest. Aranda is 13-9 with the Bears, including a 11-2 mark this year with a Big 12 title after beating Oklahoma State on Saturday. Prior to taking over at Baylor, the California native worked as the defensive coordinator at a handful of jobs, including LSU, Wisconsin, Utah State and Hawaii.

Andy Avalos, Head Coach, Boise State
Avalos is probably a longshot here, as the California native just wrapped up his first season at his alma mater with a 7-5 record. The former Boise State linebacker has plenty of familiarity with Oregon after spending 2019-20 as the program’s defensive coordinator.

Matt Campbell, Head Coach, Iowa State
Campbell’s name seems to pop up for every Power 5 opening, but the odds of him leaving Iowa State are slim. The Ohio native landed his first head-coaching job at Toledo at the end of the 2011 season and proceeded to go 35-15 until departing for Iowa State prior to ’16. The Cyclones went 3-9 in Campbell’s first year but won at least seven games in each of the next five seasons. Overall, Campbell is 42-33 with one trip to the Big 12 title game at Iowa State.

Tony Elliott, Offensive Coordinator, Clemson
Despite Clemson’s offensive struggles in 2021, Elliott is one of the top coordinators in college football. The California native has worked on coach Dabo Swinney’s staff since 2011 and was promoted to play-caller in ’15. Elliott is regarded for his work on the recruiting trail and is ready to be a Power 5 head coach.

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Bryan Harsin, Head Coach, Auburn
Harsin just wrapped up his first season at Auburn with a 6-6 mark, but he gets a mention on our list due to his extensive ties to the Pacific Northwest. The Idaho native played his college ball at Boise State and later directed the program from 2014-20 after Chris Petersen went to Washington. Harsin went 69-19 in charge of the Broncos and also had a one-year stop as Arkansas State’s coach (2013).

Chip Kelly, Head Coach, UCLA
Would Kelly consider a return to Eugene? He previously went 46-7 at Oregon from 2009-12. Kelly led the Ducks to four finishes in the top 11 of the final Associated Press poll, including trips to the BCS Championship Game in 2010 and a No. 2 finish in ’12. Kelly is 18-25 at UCLA but posted his best mark (8-4) since taking over in ’18.

Dan Lanning, Defensive Coordinator, Georgia
It’s only a matter of time before Lanning gets a chance to run a Power 5 program. The Missouri native has helped coach Kirby Smart assemble one of the nation’s top defenses since his arrival in 2018, including the last three years as the program’s defensive coordinator. Prior to working at Georgia, Lanning worked as an assistant at Memphis and had off-field roles at Alabama and Arizona State. He has no previous head-coaching experience at the FBS level.

Kalani Sitake, Head Coach, BYU
Oregon is a better job, but would Sitake want to leave his alma mater, especially with the program moving to the Big 12 in 2021? Sitake is 48-28 in Provo since replacing Bronco Mendenhall as BYU’s head coach. The Cougars went 9-4 in his debut but posted a 4-9 mark the following year. However, the program quickly rebounded with back-to-back seven-win campaigns and claimed 21 victories over the last two years. Overall, Sitake is 48-28 with the Cougars.

Justin Wilcox, Head Coach, California
Could a return to his alma mater be in the works for Wilcox? The former Oregon defensive back (and Oregon native) has recorded a 25-28 mark at California since 2017, which included an 8-5 mark in ’19. Prior to taking over at California, Wilcox made stops as an assistant at Boise State, Tennessee, Washington, USC and Wisconsin. 


Lane Kiffin, Head Coach, Ole Miss
Could the Oregon job entice Kiffin to move to the West Coast again? Kiffin is is off to an impressive start at Ole Miss, recording a 15-7 mark with a 10-win season over the last two years. He also went 26-13 as FAU’s head coach from 2017-19 and had stints directing USC (2010-13) and Tennessee (2009). Additionally, Kiffin’s background on offense would be an excellent fit at Oregon (and in the Pac-12). However, Kiffin inked an extension with Ole Miss on Saturday, which would likely take him out of the running for any jobs.

Joe Salave’a, Defensive Line Coach, Oregon
Salave’a might be the best internal candidate the Ducks could consider to replace Cristobal. A native of American Samoa, Salave’a played his college ball at Arizona and also made stops as an assistant at Washington State and Arizona becoming coming to Oregon. Salave’a does not have any previous head-coaching experience at the FBS level.