Cristobal explains why toughness is like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Wednesday April 12, 2017

When you think of Oregon football, “toughness” may not be the first word that comes to mind. How to you create it? Mario Cristobal points to your lunch.

The co-offensive coordinator / offensive line coach came from Alabama, a program known for toughness. Speaking with reporters recently, Cristobal was asked how you can build toughness.

“That’s a DNA thing,” he said. “You do have to practice it. A lot of it comes through work and basic fundamentals again and again. The mother of all learning and teaching is repetition. Sometimes that’s kind of boring, like peanut butter and jelly every single day. I guess sometimes you can make it crunchy, sometimes strawberry jam instead of grape. But you’ve got to do it again and again, and there has to be a willingness to improve.

“Motivation nowadays has become a 365-day job. I think that comes through preparation. It comes from showing belief and trust in your players. But all that is built on that foundation of work and time invested. Piece by piece, we’ll get there.”

The move from national title-competing Alabama to 4-8 Oregon was a big change for Cristobal, who was previously FIU head coach and had all of his experience in the East. But the move was a chance for a coordinator job, and he believes Willie Taggart can turn it around.

Asked what he learned in his four years in Tuscaloosa that he brings to Eugene, Cristobal pointed to Nick Saban’s organizational skills the most.

“How much time do you have? It was an incredible four years,” he said. “You learn everything from regiment to structure, practice planning, how to look ahead and schedule out an entire year, the pitfalls that are to come with certain phases of football. It is a phase within a phase. You’ve got spring recruiting to spring football to offseason, the regular season to offseason recruiting to official visits.

“It’s non-stop, it’s endless bringing everything I learned here and applying as it fits to Coach Taggart’s plan. That’s the most important thing. There are so many similarities. That experience will be ultra valuable going forward here at Oregon.”

But as he noted, Alabama and Oregon are two completely different styles and rosters up front, plus Taggart is bringing in his own offense. Cristobal will be tasked with making it fit.

“It’s two very different styles of football,” he said. “At Alabama, we prided ourselves on being a downhill, physical pro-style attack. You see a lot of those qualities in our players here. It’s exciting to combine these different philosophies and make it Coach Taggart’s — that’s the philosophy we’re running. These are really good young men. I can’t explain how hard they work. But they want it, so let’s get them good.”

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to