5 candidates to replace Mario Cristobal as Oregon Ducks head coach

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  • Mario Cristobal
    American college football player, professional football player, college football coach, offensive lineman
  • Dave Aranda
    College football coach
  • Josh Heupel
    Josh Heupel
    American football coach

The Oregon Ducks are now looking for a new head coach.

It was recently reported that Mario Cristobal would be taking the job with the Miami Hurricanes, leaving Oregon after four successful seasons that saw a pair of conference championships and a Rose Bowl victory.

In the end, Cristobal decided to return home to Miami, where he grew up and played for the Hurricanes, winning a pair of national championships in the 1980s.

It is a sad day for Duck fans, but the world will keep turning, and it’s important to keep an eye towards the future.

So what might that future look like for Oregon? That’s certainly an interesting question. While there are a number of coaching candidates left in the carousel, it’s tough not to feel like one of the top options recently left the building, with offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead leaving Eugene to take the head coaching job at Akron.

With no HC or OC, the Ducks have a wide-open slate to choose their next guy. Here are a few interesting options:

Dave Aranda (Baylor Bears HC)

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Baylor is certainly enjoying a renaissance right now after beating Oklahoma State in the Big-12 title game. A lot of that has to do with Dave Aranda, who was hired in 2020 and has helped Baylor return to the levels they saw under Art Briles earlier in the decade. Aranda is a defensive-minded coach, so he would need a strong OC, but he is certainly a name to watch.

Joe Brady (Former Carolina Panthers OC)

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Sometimes, it feels like things seem to really work out for a reason. While rumors about Cristobal were swirling on Sunday morning, the Carolina Panthers announced that they had fired offensive coordinator Joe Brady, to almost everyone’s surprise.

Brady has been regarded as one of the best offensive minds in college football after helping the historic LSU team that was quarterbacked by Joe Burrow win the national championship a couple of years back. It’s unclear if he would come back to the college ranks, but his hire at Oregon would be an absolute home run.

Josh Heupel (Tennessee Vols Head Coach)

Josh Heupel has been a head coach in college since 2018, where he started with UCF and recently is with Tennessee. He’s only been at Tennessee for a year where he’s achieved a 7-5 record. It’s nothing to write home about, but Heupel has led the team to top-10 in the nation in scoring average, total points, passing efficiency, and touchdowns. The Vols weren’t in the top 60 in any of those categories a season ago.

Luke Fickell (Cincinnati Bearcats Head Coach)

It seems like a pretty big longshot that Oregon could hire away Luke Fickell, especially after Cincinnati made the College Football Playoff this season. However, that may be accomplishment enough for Fickell, who got into the playoff by the skin of his teeth, coaching a perfect season for the Bearcats. Would Fickell now want to go somewhere where it’s easier to get into the playoff, and doesn’t require a perfect undefeated record? It’s possible.

Matt Campbell (Iowa State Cyclones Head Coach)

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Campbell has probably been the most common name in the coaching carousel this year, with his name being brought up in talks about the USC, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Florida, and Miami jobs. Why not throw Oregon into the mix? Campbell has led a resurgence at Iowa State, where he’s led the Cyclones to a couple of impressive seasons, including a Fiesta Bowl win over the Ducks in 2020.

Chip Kelly (UCLA Bruins Head Coach)

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Before you start laughing too hard, the decision to potentially go after Chip Kelly might be one that is best received by fans. Much of the Oregon faithful still love Chip, and they long for his success with the team at the start of the decade. He left too early and has never found the same level of success.

The only concern I really have is about the game catching up to him. Chip was so good because he was ahead of his time with the up-tempo scheme at Oregon. Now everyone in college football does that. However, bringing him back to Eugene would certainly be fun to talk about. We’ll see.

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