It’s a Zoom world for Mario Cristobal.
The Oregon football coach took to Zoom for a Pac-12 football coaches Webinar on Thursday afternoon and answered questions regarding nearly every part of his workday with a reference to the video communication system that allows him to keep in touch with coaches, players and recruits while they are spread across the country due to COVID-19.
The Ducks have spiced up team meetings with former greats like Marcus Mariota, LaMichael James and Troy Dye joining the conference calls.
"They have provided some inspiration for the guys that has been neat to see," Cristobal said.
Even without guest speakers, Cristobal has tried to keep the meetings fresh, including giving players and graduate assistants opportunities to lead different groups.
"The first day when we were waiting for everyone to Zoom in, some guys got in there 15 to 20 minutes early," Cristobal recalled. "There were some conversation and joking around that was hysterical. We let it run an extra 10 minutes because everyone was getting such a kick out of it."
The Ducks have been apart for nearly two months with no certain date to reunite as the start of the season remains uncertain.
"We think we’ve established a good culture, that’s not just a word we throw around," Cristobal said. "We have miles to go and recognize that, but what we have established from a mindset and standard of expectations and operation will be on the players.
"At some point in time we are going to kick off and play ball and the team that handles this the best will have the best chance for a successful season. Whatever is thrown our way, we will deal with it and make zero excuses. In the meantime, Zoom away and stay in touch and build stronger relationships with those players."
Oregon has added two commitments to its 2021 recruiting class this month despite college sports being in a recruiting dead period that does not allow in-person meetings or scouting.
"Not having people on campus to see your place is difficult for every coach," Cristobal said. "At the end of the day, facilities are great and videos are fine, but to sit face-to-face and get to know a player and take a deep dive and build relationships, there is nothing like that.
"That is a challenge we are all facing. In the meantime, it puts into perspective how important it is to take advantage of every opportunity whether a Zoom call, getting to know a family member or coach, taking a deeper dive into game film and seeing how a guy responds in all kinds of situations. It’s a test we are all going through and we accept the challenge."
Cristobal was asked if the start of the season is delayed, would he rather play a shortened schedule or extend the season to play a full schedule.
"If everyone was held to the same standard and same structure, I’d always be in favor of playing 12 football games," he said.
With Pac-12 coaches in agreement that they would need at least six weeks for strength and conditioning as well as fall camp before starting the season, the next two months will determine if the Ducks will be able to open up the schedule on Sept. 5 against North Dakota State at Autzen Stadium.
"We can control what we can control and what we are going to do and that requires us to have a positive attitude so when the time comes, we’ll be ready," Cristobal said.