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With Mario Cristobal Leaving, Is Justin Wilcox a Candidate for Oregon Job?

Cal head coach played his college football at Oregon.  Former Golden Bears coach Jeff Tedford also could be a candidate

Another high-profile Pac-12 football job is opening up, and it's a big one..

Oregon coach Mario Cristobal is leaving Oregon to become head coach at Miami (Fla.), his alma mater, according to multiple reports. That means four Pac-12 schools  -- including the three highest-profile football programs in the conference (USC, Washington, Oregon) -- will have new head coaches.

And in the case of Oregon, speculation will immediately point to Cal head coach Justin Wilcox, who was born in Eugene, Ore., grew up in Junction City, Ore., and played his college football for the Ducks.

Former Cal coach Jeff Tedford, who says he is 100 percent healthy and wants to get back into coaching, also might be considered a candidate. He was Oregon's offensive coordinator in 2001 when the Ducks finished ranked No. 2 in the country. However, Tedford is believed to be the leading candidate to fill the Fresno State head coaching vacancy.

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Aaron Fentress of the Oregonian is one sports journalist already on the Wilcox bandwagon

Pac-12 maven Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News floats six names that could be candidates for the Oregon job, and Wilcox and Tedford are included.

His six possible candidates are Auburn coach Bryan Harsin, UCLA coach and former Oregon coach Chip Kelly, BYU coach Kalani Sitake, former Washington and Boise State head coach Chris Petersen, Tedford and Wilcox.

Here is what Wilner said about Wilcox:

If the Ducks want a lifer, Wilcox is their guy. The former Oregon defensive back is a top-notch defensive coach currently toiling in the most bureaucratically difficult job in the Pac-12. At Oregon, his access to players — especially at the skill positions — would quadruple. But Cal’s lack of success during (because of) COVID makes Wilcox a tough sell, even though his teams have given the Ducks more trouble than any in the North. Ties to Oregon or the West Coast: Born in Eugene, grew up in Junction City, played for the Ducks, his brother (Josh) played for the Ducks and his father (Dave) played for the Ducks. Simply put: Blood does not get any greener. Also, Justin Herbert would approve.

Here is what Wilner said about Tedford:

One of the best football minds the West Coast has produced in the past quarter century. Tedford just turned 60 and had health issues at Fresno State. But he’s reportedly in good shape, energized and interested in jumping back into coaching. (The Ducks would need to be sure about the medical matters and possibly put a succession plan in place. But he is only two years older than Kelly.) At the very least, Oregon’s next head coach should consider Tedford for the offensive coordinator post, if he’s interested. Ties to Oregon or the West Coast: They are deep. Tedford grew up in Los Angeles, was Oregon’s offensive coordinator under Mike Bellotti and has coached Cal and Fresno State.

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Oregonian columnist John Canzano also mentioned Wilcox and Tedford as two possible candidates to fill the Ducks' vacancy.

The 247 Sports website lists Wilcox among 10 possible candidates for the Oregon job.

Oregon is scheduled to play Oklahoma in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29. Bob Stoops will be the Sooners' head coach for that game after Lincoln Riley left to become USC's head coach. It has not yet been announced which member of the Oregon coaching staff will act as Oregon's head coach in that game. Oregon defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter, who was a Cal assistant coach last year, would be a logical choice to be the Ducks' head coach for the bowl game.  DeRuyter was the head coach at Fresno State before joining the Cal staff.

Cristobal will replace Manny Diaz at Miami. The Hurricanes are 7-5 this season and are scheduled to play Washington State in the Dec. 31 Sun Bowl. 

Cristobal is getting a huge contract at Miami. Sources told ESPN that Cristobal's contract at Miami will be in the range of $8 million annually and that Miami also plans to pay his $9 million buyout at Oregon. The Athletic reported that Cristobal is expected to sign a 10-year contract worth $8 million per year.

Rumors of Cristobal's potential departure the past few weeks may have contributed to the Ducks' poor showing in the Pac-12 championship game, which the Ducks lost to Utah 38-10.

"We appreciate all of Mario's accomplishments and hard work here at Oregon, and we wish him and his family all the best in their next chapter," Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens said in a statement. "The University of Oregon is a prestigious academic institution with a football program that is well-positioned for continued success in the future, and the search is underway to find another excellent football coach to lead and support our student-athletes moving forward."


Cover photo of Cal head coach Justin Wilcox with former Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti is by Chris Pietsch, The Register-Guard, USA TODAY NETWORK


Follow Jake Curtis of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jakecurtis53

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