Cristobal spent the past six seasons as head coach at Florida International, where he compiled a 27-47 record over that span. The Golden Panthers went 3-9 last season, but 7-6 in 2010 and 8-5 in 2011, going for back-to-back seasons.
Cristobal played or Miami between 1989 and 1992, winning two national championships and playing for three. He returned to UM in 1998 as a graduate assistant under Butch Davis and remained until 2001, when former Canes defensive coordinator / then-new Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano brought Cristobal to New Jersey, where he spent four seasons coaching offensive line, tight ends and helping head up recruiting.
Miami came calling in 2004, offering Cristobal the opportunity to coach tight ends, which he did for two years before taking over the offensive line in 2006 after the departure of Art Kehoe. The stint lasted a year as Larry Coker and staff were let go after the season, which prompted former Pete Garcia to recruit Cristobal to FIU.
Cristobal’s new title is a long one; tight ends coach, recruiting coordinator and assistant head coach. Brennan Carroll has been relieved of his former post as tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator, but will replace the departed George McDonald as wide receivers coach, which prompted the Cristobal hire in the first place.
Credit to Golden for finding a way to entice Cristobal and to make this hire happen. Make not mistake, the addition of Cristobal just took this staff to another level.
Along with Kehoe, and Micheal Barrow, it adds another former Canes football player to the coaching staff –but bigger than that, it brings an experienced leader and recruiter into the fold. Cristobal has always been regarded as a tireless worker, learning from Davis and Schiano, and has been recruiting South Florida for well over a decade.
Where Randy Shannon and staff dropped the ball, Golden and his coaches have been working to mend fences – and adding the former six-year FIU head coach to the mix will only help matters on that front.
It’s also addition by subtraction, which you can be sure hasn’t been lost on Golden Al.
Bringing Cristobal to ‘The U’ keeps him – a solid recruiter – from winding up at a rival program, be it in-state or within the ACC. No doubt other programs had Cristobal, a six-year head coach, on their radar for a ‘lesser’ position, but the fact that UM pulled this off – a win-win from all angles.
Fan reaction seems positive online today, and should be. This is a great coup for The U. The lone knock today – the notion that this sets up Golden’s departure while labeling Cristobal some heir apparent should that come down the pike anytime soon.
For starters, it’d be a shock if Golden went anywhere right now. All signs point to him planting roots in South Florida and working tirelessly to right the ship. Big programs have come calling. Tennessee. UCLA. Wisconsin. Even his alma mater, Penn State. Still, Golden firmly committed to Miami has hasn’t wavered yet.
As for the NFL, the day could come, but it will take more than a 13-12 resume at UM for that to be a reality. Golden has to turn things around first. If and when he does, he will be courted at the next level. For now, he’s at The U.
Beyond that, the double standard some have for U Family members is rearing its ugly head here and needs to be squashed out.
Cristobal is a fine coach, a killer hire and this is the right place at the right time for him, but to talk about him being the next head coach after a 27-47 run at Florida International, which led to his firing? Please stop now.
Golden put together a 27-34 run in four years at doormat Temple, starting out 4-8 and getting better annually, going 5-7, 9-4 and 8-4, where his Owls should’ve earned a bowl big in 2010, but were snubbed.
Many have knocked Golden’s resume, stating that he hadn’t earned the right to coach Miami. That he hadn’t beaten any quality teams during his time at Temple. That his record spoke for itself and that he was in over his head.
Yet these same folks are endorsing Mario should Al go, simply because of the orange and green that pumps through his veins.
3-9 year six was a step back, as is the new head coach to tight end coach / recruiting coordinator / assistant head coach title, and while the move truly is a win-win, both for Cristobal and the Canes, he will have to grow into a head coach down the road, having failed his first try.
For now, let’s give Al kudos for a great hire, let’s welcome Mario home and let’s focus on the present state of this program, as opposed to building scenarios about the current guy leaving and the new-old guy stepping in, should that happen.
Christian Bello has been covering Miami Hurricanes athletics since the mid-1990s. After spending almost a decade as a columnist for CanesTime, he launched allCanesBlog.com. – the official blog for allCanes.com : The #1 Canes Shop Since 1959. Bello has joined up with XOFan.com and will be a guest columnist at CaneInsider.com this fall. Follow him on Twitter @ChristianRBello.