Two straight Pac-12 titles have to count for some sort of national respect, right?
Mario Cristobal led Oregon football to back-to-back Pac-12 titles after going 9-4 in his first full season back in 2018. He was a COVID-19 outbreak away from missing out on the title game, though, as Washington wasn’t able to represent the North against USC.
But a conference title is still a conference title, no matter how you get there.
The fourth-year head coach has been an incredible recruiter for the Ducks and has Oregon looking like the early favorite to win the Pac-12 once again in 2021.
Does that mean he deserves respect even after a disappointing 4-3 record last season despite winning a Pac-12 title?
CBS Sports thinks so.
According to a their latest top 25 Power Five head coach rankings, Cristobal is ranked No. 16. He’s the second-highest ranked Pac-12 coach, just two spots behind Utah’s Kyle Whittingham and I think everyone can agree the Utes’ head coach doesn’t quite get the respect he deserves.
But No. 2 in the Pac-12 and almost a top-15 coach in the country, Cristobal has had a positive impact in a short time in Eugene.
An unthinkable opportunity with Oregon football
It’s hard to believe that Cristobal came into this position with plenty of good fortune. If it wasn’t for Willie Taggart leaving suddenly for his ‘dream job’ at Florida State, Cristobal would likely still be an assistant or even a head coach at a smaller school. But he took over when Taggart left before the 2017 Las Vegas Bowl and never looked back.
Since then, he’s 25-9 with a 16-7 Pac-12 record and two conference titles with a potential third on the way this season. He’s won at least nine games in both of his full seasons with Oregon.
Some fans want to see more from his Ducks on the field in terms of living up to potential which is fair and I think we saw that in 2019 when Oregon went 12-2 and won the Rose Bowl, but a pandemic-affected 2020 season ended with a lackluster 4-3 record.
If he can get the Ducks back to a New Year’s Six bowl in 2021 or even the playoff with another Pac-12 title push, we could see Cristobal in the top 10 of next year’s Power Five coach rankings.