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Oregon promotes Mario Cristobal to head coach in wake of Willie Taggart's departure

FILE - In this Oct. 28, 2017, file photo, Oregon co-offensive coordinator Mario Cristobal watches a special team warmup drill before an NCAA college football game against Utah, in Eugene, Ore. A person with direct knowledge of the situation says Oregon will hire Mario Cristobal as its head coach. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because a deal and announcement were still being finalized. Cristobal was offensive coordinator at Oregon this past season and was named interim coach on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, when Willie Taggart left to become coach at Florida State. (AP Photo/Chris Pietsch, File)

Oregon has promoted offensive coordinator Mario Cristobal to head coach.

The Ducks made the formal announcement early Friday afternoon. A news conference was set for 4 p.m. local time. | WATCH VIDEO

Cristobal was co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Oregon this past season and was named interim coach on Tuesday when Willie Taggart left to become head coach at Florida State.

AFTER THE WHISTLE | Implications of Mario Cristobal as head Oregon football coach

"Mario's leadership skills, work ethic, and experience makes him a perfect fit to lead the Oregon football program," Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens said in a statement. "He has a passion for Oregon and a vision for our future success, and has made a significant impact on our student-athletes during his time here. We look forward to a great future on the horizon for the Ducks under Mario's leadership."

Before coming to Eugene, Oregon, with Taggart, Cristobal had spent four seasons as offensive line coach at Alabama. He has six seasons of head coaching experience at Florida International, where he went 27-47, including 20-26 in conference, with two bowl appearances from 2007-12.

He was also an assistant at Miami, his alma mater.

NBC Sports Northwest was first to report Oregon had decided to promote Cristobal.

Cristobal also released a statement saying he was honored to be named head coach.

"The rich tradition combined with the incredible wave of momentum that has been created throughout the season and the recruiting process is something we believe will be unstoppable, and this will lead us to fulfill the great expectations of our great university and our fan base," he said.

He addressed the team in the early afternoon.

"We're just happy to finally have a coach and have a guy we all love," Ducks safety Brady Breeze told reporters afterward. "I don't think there's a guy on the team that doesn't like coach Cristobal, and just his knowledge of the game and the way he approaches all of us individually."

That Cristobal's "interim" tag was only in place for three days shows the enthusiasm the program has for him. Dozens of players signed a petition backing him as head coach. Some players voiced support by using the hashtag #cristobALLIN on social media.

Left tackle Tyrell Crosby tweeted Thursday night that more than 70 players had signed the petition.

"We are all fighting so hard for him to be HC, because we all know he'd fight just as hard for us." Crosby wrote.

When Oregon hired Taggart to replace Mark Helfrich, he was the first Oregon coach to come from outside the staff in more than four decades. Losing Taggart, the Florida native, after less than a year meant another coaching search, but this time the Ducks stayed in-house. Oregon went 7-5 this season, including 1-4 in games without starting quarterback Justin Herbert, who missed time with a broken collarbone. The Ducks face Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 16.

The Ducks had also been doing well on the recruiting trail under Taggart and the hope is promoting Cristobal can help Oregon keep a promising class of high school commitments together.

The Ducks wanted to name a successor quickly because of the early signing period, which begins Dec. 20.

Oregon is set to host a group of recruits this weekend.

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