Willie Taggart divorced Oregon after only one season in Eugene.
But the now former Florida State and current Florida Atlantic coach did orchestrate a successful football marriage by hiring Mario Cristobal and Marcus Arroyo as assistants.
Cristobal and Arroyo had good chemistry as the offensive line and quarterbacks coaches, respectively, on Taggart’s staff in 2017.
So when Cristobal was elevated to head coach, he promptly gave Arroyo his own promotion to offensive coordinator.
The Ducks are 20-7 with a Pac-12 championship since the union, which will end after Oregon plays Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1 in Pasadena, Calif.
Arroyo will be calling the plays before leaving to begin his new challenge as UNLV’s head coach.
“I think the professionalism of understanding how we saw things,” Arroyo said Thursday when asked why he connected with Cristobal, who he didn’t know before joining Taggart’s staff. “We realized right away we saw the run game the same, we communicated protections the same. The attention to detail and things we do in our position groups was reflective in that. There was a lot of commonalities.
“I think you end up in many of the situations you’re in in this profession of finding guys within the building that you mesh well with, and it’s been that way.”
Cristobal described Arroyo as a “tremendous human being” and had no reservations about allowing him to stay on through the “Grandaddy of them All.”
Many Oregon fans have been less enamored with the offense over the past two seasons, even though the Ducks rank 15th in scoring (35.9 points per game) and 26th in yards (450.7 per game) entering the Rose Bowl.
Justin Herbert, in his third season with Arroyo as his position coach, ranks 13th in passing efficiency this season after completing 66.7% of his passes for 3,333 yards with 32 touchdowns and five interceptions.
“We just have to work off the results,” Arroyo said when asked about the criticism. “You can’t always be looking around and worrying about that stuff. I’ve done this for a long time. We specialize in it, we believe in it. Most coaches do. If you put a lot of time and thought into it, you can’t get too carried away too much with the outside perspectives in regards to some of those things. …
“We like what we put on paper and like the results. We’re getting ready to play in the Rose Bowl and had an effective outfit and are excited about that.”
It has been a whirlwind for Arroyo since Oregon’s 37-15 dismantling of Utah in the Pac-12 championship on Dec. 6.
The 39-year-old was announced as UNLV’s coach four days after the title game and only had a week to recruit for the Rebels before Wednesday’s early signing period began.
Arroyo has also been game planning for Wisconsin and coaching with the Ducks during practices this week.
“It’s a humbling experience, obviously, first time doing it,” Arroyo said. “It’s a humbling experience going through this process at this time. Been really busy obviously and fortunate to have some things unfold the way they did.
“I’m excited to be back with the team here and prepping for the Rose Bowl.”
Cristobal’s peers only voted two of his players, left tackle Penei Sewell on offense and safety Brady Brees on special teams, to the all-Pac-12 first team last week.
Utah’s Kyle Whittingham was voted the coach of the year.
But five players — Sewell, left guard Shane Lemieux, right tackle Calvin Throckmorton, defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux and linebacker Troy Dye — were on the Associated Press all-Pac-12 first team.
Cristobal was the coach of the year.
And three anchors of the Pac-12 championship Oregon team — Sewell (first team), Lemieux (second team) and Throckmorton (third team) — are AP All-Americans.
Herbert also won the Campbell Trophy, also known as the “academic Heisman,” and Sewell won the Outland Trophy as the nation’s top interior lineman.
“We have really good football players, and they deserve the recognition that they get. I don’t think I’m biased. They deserve more,” Cristobal said. “And I think the ultimate recognition is that big silver trophy downstairs. That signifies everybody’s efforts and all that other stuff.”