Oregon football coach Mario Cristobal noted last week that Alabama and Georgia didn’t get to the national championship game by accident.
The journey began with players dedicating themselves to a proven strength and conditioning program last January.
Cristobal, who was a liaison between Alabama’s strength coaches and Nick Saban during his time as an assistant with the Crimson Tide, wants the Ducks’ offseason workouts to be modeled after Alabama’s Fourth Quarter Program.
Georgia followed the blueprint after Kirby Smart, Saban’s former defensive coordinator, left to coach the Bulldogs.
Oregon is expected to hire Aaron Feld, Georgia’s assistant strength and conditioning coach, as its new head strength coach, according to reports confirmed by The Register-Guard.
Feld was a strength and conditioning volunteer at Alabama in 2014 before becoming the director of strength and conditioning for all 13 sports at North Alabama.
“The strength coach and the trainer, they are the glue,” Cristobal said last week. “They are the buffer. They are kind of the stopgap that prevents issues from festering.”
Cristobal will expect Feld to set the tone for Oregon’s 2018 season during winter workouts.
The brief Willie Taggart era got off to a rocky start a year ago when three Oregon players were hospitalized with exercise-related injuries.
Irele Oderinde, who followed Taggart to Florida State, was suspended by Oregon for one month without pay.
Oderinde’s credentials — a bachelor’s degree in recreation administration, a master’s degree in sports management and a certificate from the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Association — came into question after the incident.
According to Georgia, Feld is certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and holds a SCCC certification from the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association.
Cristobal said Oregon was “being extremely thorough” with the hiring process for a new head strength coach.
With the return of standout quarterback Justin Herbert and the retention of defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt and other top assistants, Cristobal said the Ducks can have a breakthrough season. The process will begin under Feld, the former Mississippi State player who received a lot of attention during the national title game for his distinctive handlebar mustache.
“It’s our obligation to give them the opportunity to create the mindset of mental toughness, physical hardness, to be able to get to a level to compete for championships consistently,” Cristobal said of the importance of the strength program. “Of course, that requires a reset button every single offseason.”