Oregon’s 6 best candidates to replace Mario Cristobal, from Chip Kelly to Dan Mullen

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Oregon coach Mario Cristobal is expected to resign Monday to accept the same position at Miami, his alma mater, according to Yahoo Sports.

That means Oregon is looking for its fourth different head coach since Chip Kelly left after the 2012 season. 

Cristobal compiled a 35-13 record with a pair of Pac-12 championships for the Ducks; a successful run that looked like it would take the next step after Oregon beat Ohio State on Sept. 11. The Ducks, however, finished 10-3 and fell short of a third Pac-12 championship in four seasons. 

Who will Oregon turn to? The Ducks are still 79-34 since 2013; the 12th-best record among FBS schools in that stretch. The next coach can continue that success. 

Here is a look at six possible candidates: 

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Chip Kelly, UCLA coach 

Why not go back to where it all started? This would be another fitting spin on a wild turn through the coaching carousel. Kelly is 18-25 in four seasons at UCLA and is coming off his best year with a 8-4 record. He had a 46-7 record in four seasons with the Ducks from 2009-12; a stretch that included four straight BCS bowls and a national championship appearance. Oregon was closest to a national championship with Kelly, and it would put him in the opposite division as USC’s Lincoln Riley. 

Dave Aranda, Baylor coach 

If it’s not Campbell, then Aranda could emerge as the right fit. He flipped Baylor into a Big 12 champion in just two seasons. Aranda is expected to stay with the Bears and sign an extension, but could the Oregon opening lead to a last-minute reversal? Aranda is a California native with experience on the West Coast, and he’s rebuilt the Bears with a punishing running game and offensive line. Coming off a conference championship, however, he might be tough to pry away. 

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Matt Campbell, Iowa State coach 

Is this the next move for Campbell? The Cyclones are coming off a disappointing season, but that should not be a deal-breaker with a coach who is 77-48 through stops at Toledo and Iowa State. The Cyclones beat Oregon 34-17 in the 2021 Fiesta Bowl, and Campbell’s player-first culture-building skills would be accepted at Oregon. It’s a level up and a different proving ground, but Campbell would do well with more resources. 

Kalani Sitake, BYU coach 

Sitake deserves consideration. BYU is 21-3 the last two seasons and he is 48-28 since taking over in 2016. Sitake has stints as an assistant coach at two Pac-12 schools in Utah and Oregon State, and he’s been a hit as another player’s coach with the Cougars. BYU’s success has rested on complimentary football the last two seasons, and Sitake could continue that balance at Oregon. 

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Joe Brady, former Panthers OC 

The Carolina Panthers fired Brady after less than two seasons, but it’s clear the former LSU passing game coordinator might be a better fit in the college game. Brady was behind the Tigers’ offensive machine in 2019, and this would be an interesting first head coaching job. Even if Brady isn’t the head coach, the Ducks should look this way to replace departed offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead. Brady fits the description well. 

Dan Mullen, former Florida coach 

This would be an outside-the-box move considering how quickly the Gators’ season unraveled in 2021. Mullen, however, has been considered for the Oregon job in the past. Mullen was 34-15 with Florida the last four seasons, and that included three New Year’s Day Six bowl appearances. He was 69-46 at Mississippi State before that, a less publicized stint that was more impressive. Mullen’s personality could go either way in Eugene, but he knows how to coach. 



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