I’ll keep this short. No really. Last year in the search for the next Pitt football coach it appeared to come down to Mario Cristobal or Paul Chryst. I was leaning more towards Cristobal because of how far he had brought FIU in just a few years plus his recruiting ties to Miami and actual head coach experience.
The big negative against him were the suggestions that he really wanted to stay in the Miami area. That at the least he was just using the interest as a way to improve his money from FIU. The fact that he would likely bolt at the first chance if the Miami job (his alma mater) came open. It seemed to me that too many were using that as primarily in light of the nature and brevity of the Fraud Graham tenure. Especially in relation to Cristobal’s wife.
Well, fast forward a year and FIU inexplicably fired Cristobal after one down season (that included a lot of injuries). And the FIU firing makes less sense when you realize they replaced Cristobal with Ron Turner. About the only thing that explains the stupidity, is that FIU AD Pete Garcia is the same guy who thought hiring Isiah Thomas to be a college basketball coach was a good idea.
Cristobal, though, has pretty much proven the contention that he really doesn’t want to leave the Miami area with his new job.
The former Miami offensive lineman, who transformed FIU from the biggest mess in FBS football into a team that went to back-to-back bowl games within five seasons of his arrival, only to be fired last month due to friction with athletic director Pete Garcia, is returning home to Miami. Cristobal will be the Miami Hurricanes’ new associate head coach and also will coach tight ends, two sources told CBSSports.com Thursday morning.
The associate head coach title is relatively meaningless. It justifies the money they pay a position coach — primarily to help recruiting — and helps Cristobal save face. It’s not like he didn’t have better paying options.
Cristobal is bypassing opportunities to be an offensive coordinator at an major conference program as well as assistant offers from NFL teams to return to Miami, according to multiple sources.
In the NFL, there is no doubt Greg Schiano at Tampa Bay would have hired him. In fact, that was assumed to be where he would go. Yet, he stayed right in the Miami area.
Now, there is the reasoning that he wants to be as close to the Miami program as possible (his dream job) when/if Al Golden leaves for something else. After all, Golden has continually let his name float out there for other jobs and sanctions are still hanging over the program. It really does seem like only a matter of time.
Still, it’s not like Cristobal wouldn’t have been the strong favorite for Miami, regardless of where he was coaching. Arguably it would have strengthened his candidacy assuming he succeeded in another place. Plus, without knowing when Golden is leaving Cristobal makes it harder to land another head coaching job to improve his chances as being the best choice for Miami. Cristobal appears to have decided it’s Miami or bust for his future.