It may have taken two weeks, but Oregon has finally found its new defensive coordinator. In one of the more stunning developments of the Mario Cristobal era, the Ducks are expected to hire Andy Avalos, Boise State’s defensive coordinator of the past four years.
Avalos’ hiring comes following the departure of former defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt. According to those close with the program, Leavitt’s departure wasn’t a complete shock once he was passed over for the head coaching position, which Cristobal received. Still, Cristobal ponied up $1.7-million a year to retain Leavitt’s services, inking him to a four-year extension. Leavitt only made it one year (last season), before mutually agreeing to part ways with the Ducks.
Avalos comes to Oregon with an impressive pedigree after being a part of the Broncos coaching staff for the past eight years. Despite being the defensive coordinator the past four seasons, Avalos also worked primarily with linebackers and defensive line. He is best known for helping transform former walk-on linebacker Leighton Vander Esch to a first-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys.
Avalos could see a major pay raise as he transitions to his time as a Duck — he made $355,000 last season and had two years left on his contract with the Broncos.
Over the previous two years, Boise State has ranked in the top-40 of both scoring defense and total defense in each season.
The Ducks, and Cristobal, are familiar with Avalos and the Broncos defense when both teams met in the 2017 Vegas Bowl. Avalos and the Broncos held the Ducks to 280 total yards (47 rushing) in their 38-28 win.
Avalos’ hiring completes the coaching staff for Cristobal — he also added Ken Wilson (Washington State) and Jovon Bouknight (Texas Tech) to replace Cort Dennison and Michael Johnson to head up the linebackers and wide receivers, respectively.
It’s expected that co-defensive coordinator Keith Heyward, who was a candidate for the position, is expected to stay with the program and continue in his same role.
Dave Southorn of the Idaho Statesmen was the first one to report the news, via Twitter.