Mario Cristobal is the third consecutive Oregon coach to steal an assistant from Mike Leach.
The Ducks have hired Washington State running backs coach Jim Mastro for the same position, a source confirmed to The Register-Guard.
According a Sports Illustrated, Mastro will receive a thee-year deal.
“Committed to Washington State in (high school) because of Mastro,” Oregon redshirt freshman running back Cyrus Habibi-Likio tweeted Saturday night. “just wasn’t the place for me, Oregon is. I know God planned this for us to reunite. More than thrilled to work with him … feels like a dream. Can’t wait to get on the field with my dude!”
Mastro spent five seasons blending his running game philosophies into Leach’s “Air Raid” offense at Washington State after coaching for 11 seasons at Nevada (2000-10), where the “Pistol” offense originated under coach Chris Ault.
Oregon loses its all-time leading rusher, Royce Freeman, but returns fifth-year senior Tony Brooks-James and some talented young running backs to play behind star quarterback Justin Herbert.
With the NCAA now allowing a 10th assistant, Cristobal still has three openings to fill.
“There’s a five-deep always. It’s never-ending,” Cristobal said recently when asked about his list of candidates for his first staff at Oregon. “It’s a very fluid chart and it has to be, especially now with the 10th coaching addition. That really changes things. The amount of poaching, last-second grab bag hires are really going to put a lot of stress on a lot of staffs around the country.
“You’ve got to always be ready for it and not take for granted, ‘Oh, this guy is going to be here forever.’”
Before the 2016 season, Mark Helfrich hired quarterbacks coach David Yost away from Washington State. Willie Taggart persuaded defensive line coach Joe Salave’a to leave Pullman for Eugene last year.
The Cougars were last in the Pac-12 in rushing (68.0 yards per game) but led the conference in passing (366.8 ypg) in 2017.
Washington State running back James Williams tweeted that he has “admiration and respect for Mastro and he would be “disappointed if he didn’t take this opportunity.”
Mastro, who is considered a strong recruiter, will have a chance to coach in a more balanced system as the running game coordinator under offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo.
Cristobal plans to continue coaching the offensive line.
Oregon’s running backs coach last season, Donte Pimpleton, and special teams coordinator Raymond Woodie followed Taggart to Florida State. Cornerbacks coach Charles Clark left to coach at Mississippi, his alma mater.