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an assistant for Mike Riley last season at Nebraska

Time:2018-03-13 05:42Shoes websites Click:

taggart Williams coach Oregon cristobal

A decade ago, Mario Cristobal had to put together a coaching staff at Florida International on a shoe-string budget.

The first-time head coach was able to hire some hidden gems as assistants, several of whom are now prominent coaches, including Scott Satterfield (Appalachian State head coach), Geoff Collins (Temple head coach) and Todd Orlando (Texas defensive coordinator).

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“Back then it was a matter of identifying guys at the FCS level or guys that were position coaches,” Cristobal said. “Just looking for guys that showed drastic improvement or did a lot with a little.”

After being elevated to head coach at Oregon in December, Cristobal’s pitch was much easier when targeting candidates to fill out a staff that retained five valued assistants from the one-year Willie Taggart era.

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The salary pool for the program’s 10 full-time assistants in 2018 is $5.35 million. Taggart’s nine-man staff earned a combined $3.95 million in 2017, which was up from the $3.19 million Mark Helfrich’s long tenured staff was paid in 2016.

“Here at this level the brand of Oregon is so huge and so strong that it kind of attracts itself,” Cristobal said. “It was much easier trying to find and mine out the guys we need here at the program.”

The Ducks went through their third spring practice Saturday. For the third consecutive year, the players are adjusting to staff shakeups and a new head coach.

Cristobal was able to make the transition smoother by persuading defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt, offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo, defensive line coach Joe Salave’a, safeties coach Keith Heyward and wide receivers coach Michael Johnson to stay after Taggart’s abrupt departure for Florida State.

All of the holdovers were given lucrative new deals after Oregon finished 7-6 last season with a loss to Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Leavitt is one of the highest paid assistants in the country after signing a four-year extension with an annual base salary of $1.7 million, which is only $800,000 less than Cristobal’s $2.5 million salary.

“It’s a huge challenge and it’s not just in highly visible sports,” athletic director Rob Mullens said recently of the escalating payouts for coaches. “It’s also a challenge in the Olympic sports because that salary structure has changed for a number of sports, probably percentage-wise equal to or higher than some of the more visible revenue sports.

“What we do is find our place within the market place. We know the data very well. We do everything we can to support and retain those coaches, but again, it’s within what fits our financial structure.”

Two assistants left with Taggart

Two assistants from last season, running backs coach Donte Pimpleton and special teams coach Raymond Woodie, followed Taggart to Tallahassee. Cornerbacks coach Charles Clark left for a job at Mississippi, his alma mater.

The NCAA also approved the addition of an additional full-time assistant this year.

Cristobal filled the vacancies by hiring outside linebackers coach Cort Dennison, running backs coach Jim Mastro, offensive line assistant Alex Mirabal, special teams coach Bobby Williams and cornerbacks coach Donte Williams.

Cristobal has known Mirabal since they were high school teammates in Miami and coached with Bobby Williams for four years at Alabama. The younger newcomers were grinders that caught his eye at coaching clinics or on the recruiting trail.

“I take a lot of pride in the hours that I keep to not be outworked,” Cristobal said. “If I saw a guy keeping similar hours, I immediately kept note of that saying, ‘Well, that’s someone to look at.’

“It requires that and it cannot be compromised. No one should pat themselves on the back for that. It’s what you do, it’s part of the job.”

Cristobal also hired a new strength coach, Aaron Feld, who has a base salary of $200,000 and was charged with installing the Oregon “Fourth Quarter” program modeled after Alabama’s offseason workout regimen.

“With the new strength staff all of us have gotten a lot stronger and we’re in much better condition,” quarterback Justin Herbert said. “We’re able to go longer. I’m excited to take on spring ball.”

While the players were going through the winter strength and conditioning program, the coaches were finishing up the recruiting cycle, moving boxes into their new offices and getting on the same page inside the cushy confines of the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex.

Cristobal likes his new assistants

The 2018 season won’t be Taggart 2.0, but some of the momentum will carry over.

“Kudos to coach Mario for allowing those guys to have a resemblance of what we already have here with the energy and the personality that fits our guys and the culture,” said Salave’a, the only assistant made available to the media during the first week of spring practice.

“But also the body of work, the expertise that some of these new additions to our staff have, has been tremendous. Right away you could see the thirst and the hunger in our players’ eyes because now they’re actually being challenged and also taught the game.

“You cannot fabricate the expertise and the level of knowledge that some of these great teachers coach Cristobal has allowed to join our staff.”

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