When Willie Taggart left Oregon to become the head coach at Florida State, Oregon football players rallied around co-offensive coordinator Mario Cristobal. They lobbied athletic director Rob Mullens to make Cristobal the permanent head coach, creating and signing a petition for his promotion.
“We’re just happy to finally have a coach and have a guy we all love,” Ducks safety Brady Breeze told reporters after Cristobal was promoted. “I don’t think there’s a guy on the team that doesn’t like Coach Cristobal, and just his knowledge of the game and the way he approaches all of us individually.”
That love for his players has bled over into the performance on the field, but also on the recruiting trail, where the Ducks are recruiting in a way the program has never seen.
When Cristobal took over in December 2017, Oregon had the No. 9-ranked recruiting class, eventually falling to No. 17 after signing day. Fallout from Taggart’s decision to leave was inevitable and wasn’t on Cristobal’s shoulders.
In his first full recruiting class, Cristobal and his staff made their splash, finishing with the highest class ranking Oregon has had since ESPN started its class rankings in 2006. Finishing at No. 6 overall and landing the No. 1-ranked recruit in the country, defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, Cristobal showed everyone what his players saw from the inside when they rallied to keep him as coach.