LAS VEGAS — Oregon coach Mario Cristobal confirmed the school has approached him with an enhanced contract but also acknowledged other programs likely will pursue him in the coming days.
The Miami Herald and several other media outlets reported Friday that Miami is poised to make a push for Cristobal, a former Hurricanes offensive lineman and assistant who grew up in the city. Oregon on Friday night lost 38-10 to No. 17 Utah in the Pac-12 championship game, the 10th-ranked Ducks’ second lopsided defeat to the Utes in the past three games. Utah claimed its first Pac-12 title and first Rose Bowl berth.
“I haven’t talked to anybody, so let’s not create narratives as we sit here in this press conference,” Cristobal said after the game. “Oregon’s working on some stuff for me, and that’s what I have right now, and that’s the extent of that conversation.
“If there’s anything to report, I’d report it. I always have.”
Miami has not made any announcements about coach Manny Diaz, who continues to work for the program and prepare for an upcoming bowl appearance. The school’s search for an athletic director is ongoing, although Clemson’s Dan Radakovich emerged Friday as a potential target.
Sources told ESPN that Radakovich has not been offered the job but likely will have conversations over the weekend with Miami, where he earned a business degree and got his start in athletic administration in 1983. Other candidates are still involved in the Miami athletic director search, according to sources, and a decision likely won’t come until Sunday or Monday.
The timeline could be accelerated for Cristobal, who is set to begin recruiting this weekend in Florida and other areas. After Oregon’s regular-season finale against Oregon State on Nov. 27, Cristobal flew to Miami to be with his ailing mother, Clara. Upon returning to Eugene, Mario Cristobal told reporters Monday that his mother is “fighting.”
The Oregonian first reported and ESPN confirmed that Oregon is set to offer an “aggressive” new contract for Cristobal, who is 35-13 with two Pac-12 titles at the school. Last December, Cristobal received a new six-year, $27.3 million deal taking him through the 2025 season.
“Do I expect people to come [after] me? Yeah, I do, it happens every single year,” Cristobal said. “There’s nothing else to report besides that. If there is, or when there ever is, if there ever is, I’ll make sure to get it to [the media] as fast as I can.”
Cristobal, 51, won two national championships and earned first-team All-Big East honors as an offensive tackle. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Miami from 1998 to 2000, and later served as a full-time assistant from 2004 to 2006.
A university source told ESPN that it’s “a coin flip” as to what Cristobal decides, noting that Clara Cristobal’s health and returning home — not financial reasons — would be the driving factors if Cristobal were to consider taking the Miami job if offered.
Oregon players said the reports about Cristobal before the game did not contribute to the team’s performance against Utah, which also beat the Ducks 38-7 on Nov. 20 in Salt Lake.
“We’ve got to block out the outside noise, 100 percent of our focus was on this game,” offensive lineman Alex Forsyth said. “They were the better team.”
As in the teams’ first game, Utah stormed out to an early lead and led 23-0 at halftime, while outgaining Oregon 208-65 in total yards. Oregon couldn’t convert two Utah turnovers into any points and failed to reach the end zone for nearly 45 minutes.
“Honestly, it seemed kind of similar,” safety Verone McKinley III said. “We were confident, we felt prepared, we felt we had a good game plan, and then to let what happened happen again, it’s a tough pill to swallow.”
Cristobal said his upcoming focus would be on Oregon’s recruiting class, which ESPN ranks No. 9 nationally. Oregon will learn its bowl destination Sunday.
“Disappointed ourselves, the staff, as a team,” Cristobal said. “Found a way to win 10 games, despite a lot of injuries, had some really bright moments. We got one of the best victories in the country this year [Sept. 11 against Ohio State], and then had a couple of disappointing losses.
“We gave ourselves an opportunity to win our third straight Pac-12 championship. We didn’t get it done, but the other team earned it.”