“My family and I are delighted to be returning home to the University of Miami, which has been so instrumental in shaping me as a person, player and coach,” Cristobal said in a statement. “This program has an unprecedented tradition and an exciting future ahead of it. I look forward to competing for championships and helping transform our student-athletes into leaders on and off the field who will make our university, our community and our loyal fan base proud. “
Taking the job in Miami, Cristobal replaces Manny Diaz, who was fired Monday morning after three seasons at the head of the Canes. Cristobal, who won two National Championships as a Miami player between 1989-92, was 35-13 (23-10 Pac-12) in four seasons leading Oregon. Diaz finished 21-15 (16-9 ACC) but have won five of their last six games this season.
The hiring of Cristobal comes at a tumultuous time for both the coach himself and the Hurricanes. Miami’s negotiations with Cristobal became extremely public for a long time over the weekend, although Diaz is still employed by the team.
Miami is simultaneously trying to hire Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich, a MU graduate who reportedly waited for the Canes to catch Cristobal before agreeing to leave the Tigers himself. Miami hasn’t made any announcements about Cristobal or Radakovich yet.
Cristobal will be responsible for helping the Hurricanes out of mediocrity. The Canes have only had a double-digit winning season since joining the ACC in 2003. Miami clearly believes in Cristobal given he chose to pay more than $ 12 million combined to redeem his contract to Oregon and terminate the Diaz agreement.
“We are incredibly happy to welcome Mario, his wife Jessica and their sons Mario Mateo and Rocco to Miami,” said school president Julio Frenk. “Mario’s legacy as a student-athlete at U is well established. And the standard of competitive excellence that he and his teammates have helped set is one we continue to strive for. Our selection, however, was not based on nostalgia for a proud past, but rather on a bold vision for a bright future.
The Miami Herald reports that Miami will pay Cristobal more than $ 8 million per year and has made additional financial commitments to support the football program as a whole.
Miami entered the 2021 season considered one of the best contenders for the ACC Coastal; however, a disastrous 2-4 start doomed his chances of competing for a league title and national relevance. The Canes have won five of their last six games, a streak that included wins over ranked enemies NC State and Pittsburgh as Diaz ultimately identified a star quarterback in Tyler Van Dyke.
Those wins, and the team’s determination after a rocky start, suggested Diaz might get another season as Miami coach. But with the sacking of athletic director Blake James, Diaz’s future has been called into question.
Cristobal is a Miami native who spent six seasons as a coach with the CRF before working under Nick Saban in Alabama from 2013 to 2016. He served as Oregon’s offensive coordinator for a season before replacing Willie Taggart as coach. Cristobal previously worked as an assistant in Miami from 2004 to 2006 under Larry Coker.
Beyond her obvious ties to college as a former student, Cristobal’s mother lives in South Florida. She suffered from a prolonged illness and Cristobal made frequent trips to the area from Eugene, Oregon, which was a 6,400 mile round trip.
Miami’s big bet
Trying to get a change of sporting director and a change of coach simultaneously is a bold move, and the Canes should expect some ridicule for the way they treated Diaz. However, if all goes well and Miami returns to center stage in a poor ACC, no one will remember the process, just the results. If unsuccessful, however, the Canes will receive an epic amount of backfire and endless taunts for their careless handling of the situation.
Diaz has shown in the second half of the 2021 season that he always has his team’s pulse, and the Canes have never quite hit rock bottom under his leadership. On the other hand, Cristobal is only 11-6 in his last 17 games in Oregon, and his attacks aren’t exactly the friendliest to watch. Cristobal’s tenure ended in a 38-10 loss to Utah in the 2021 Pac-12 Championship game just two weeks after the Ducks were similarly dismantled by the Utes, 38-7 in Salt Lake City.
Cristobal is a former offensive lineman, and while he was a Miami program player during his bragging days, he’s not a particularly conspicuous coach. However, like Diaz, he’s a guy from Miami who is connected to the community in a way that few other coaches are at their respective universities.
No long term guarantee
No one has held the job in Miami for more than seven seasons since Andy Gustafson held the job from 1948 to 1963. The last two coaches on the program only lasted three years and none of its last four have. managed five full seasons. Cristobal being a former top player doesn’t guarantee that he will bring stability to a badly needed program.
Diaz is originally from the city of Miami and was the program’s defensive coordinator before getting the head coach job. Prior to Diaz’s tenure, former UM QB Mark Richt only coached three seasons after a long stint in Georgia. Another fairly recent coach on the program, Randy Shannon, was also a former player and defensive coordinator who also didn’t work long term.
So while Cristobal’s connection to a great era in the program’s history may help sell season tickets, that isn’t necessarily reassuring for the long-term stability of the program. This is especially true given the bizarre circumstances in which he was hired.
Where hope will come for Miami is the reported investment in the football program as a whole. The Canes’ facilities lag far behind many top 25 programs, and their lack of a stadium on campus has long been a problem. However, Cristobal – a top recruiter – has a tremendous amount of talent to look for in South Florida (and the state as a whole). If Cristobal can land star-studded recruiting classes, that, coupled with the supposedly increased investment in the team and a potential big-name AD leading the effort, gives cause for optimism.
Another important position opens
Did you think the Coaching Carousel was about to end? Think again. Cristobal’s decision to leave Oregon opens up the best job in the Pac-12 North, and now the league’s top three jobs will have changed hands in the same cycle. With Lincoln Riley leaving Oklahoma for USC, Kalen DeBoer replacing Jimmy Lake in Washington and Oregon, it will be kind of a clean slate for conference next season.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. This season marks five straight times the Pac-12 have failed to bring a team to the college football playoffs. Oregon has failed since the CFP’s inaugural season in 2014, and USC has never played in the CFP. Utah is in a stable position under 17th year coach Kyle Whittingham, but the Pac-12 needs a little fresh energy. Maybe these coaching changes will bring it about.