Editor's note: this is not the consensus opinion of the staff, and we will be profiling many other candidates.
As the Miami Hurricanes head into week 2 post-Al Golden, we're continuing our look at the candidates who could potentially replace him as Head Coach.
And, to that end, we start the week with one of the most prominent names, and the presumptive leader in the eyes of some as the man to lead the Miami Hurricanes back to greatness: Alabama Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Line coach Mario Cristobal.
The Native Son
One of the things that makes Mario Cristobal so attractive as a head coaching candidate is the fact that he's a native son of Miami. Cristobal was born in Miami, was a standout offensive lineman at local Christopher Columbus Catholic School, played collegiate football at Miami (was a member of the 1989 and 1991 National Championship teams), coached at Miami in 2 different stints, and was the head coach at Florida International University, a school that often hosts Columbus home games to this day.
With that connection to South Florida, it stands to reason that Cristobal is one of the most, if not THE MOST, connected coaches to recruiting in this area. We'll get to this point more in just a bit.
From optimist to HS to College to Coaching, Mario Cristobal's football career, and his life, has been centered around Miami. And maybe, just maybe, it's time for him to return home to write the next chapter of that story.
Recruiting. Yes, this matters. And yes, I'm leading with it. This is, BY FAR, the biggest asset Cristobal brings to the table as a head coaching candidate. 247Sports ranked Cristobal as the top recruiter in America for the 2015 cycle, and the list of talent he got to commit to Alabama was ridiculous. See it for yourself.....it's DUMB how much talent Cristobal got by his lonesome.
We know to be great, you have to recruit great. And, if there's one thing Mario Cristobal can do, it's recruit.
Head Coaching Experience. There have been rumblings that Miami is looking for their next head coach to have previous head coaching experience. Mario Cristobal has that from his 6 years at the helm of Florida International University's football program. On top of that, he's Associate Head Coach for Alabama at current, and while that's not REALLY head coaching, that's close enough for the purposes of this conversation.
Development under Nick Saban. Cristobal is working with the best coach in CFB right now: Nick Saban. Hate him or love him, you have to give Saban credit for having a program that recruits and performs at an elite level. That success is due in no small part to Saban, his philosophy, and organizational infrastructure.
Now, how does that help Cristobal? He's Associate Head Coach, so he's at the upper reaches of the oganizational chart. And, that close connection to the program, the ability to see it from the top, take note of all the inner workings, and largely dictate the recruiting practices, can only help Cristobal formulate his own plan for the next head coaching job he gets. And, trust me, he's going to get another head coaching job. And, it might just be at his alma mater.
Championship Experience. Cristobal won 2 National Championships as a player at Miami. He's been around the winning culture at Alabama the past 3 years. He's the reigning National Recruiter of the Year. In short, Cristobal knows what it takes to win both on the field and in recruiting. I mean, what more can you ask for?
Middling results at FIU as Head Coach. ....and I'm being generous by calling them middling. Cristobal was the 2nd coach in FIU history, and went 27-47 in his 6 years there. He did, however, lead the Panthers to 1 Sun Belt Championship, and 2 bowls games, winning 1. He recruited NFL players Johnathan Cyprien and T.Y. Hilton to FIU, so he knows how to identify and develop talent. But, in the end, he was 20 games under .500 as a head coach in his one stop with that position.
So, there's much to be desired from the W/L side of things.
"Traitor". Cristobal came back to Miami, where he once coached, for about 6 weeks after being fired from FIU. Then, Nick Saban called him, offered him the Assoc. HC/OL job, and he was gone. To some, taking the offer from Alabama and leaving his alma mater means Cristobal is dead to them. He's recruiting South Florida players to go elsewhere. He's using all his influences for the power of evil instead of good. He's going against the family, and that can never be respected.
Better as position coach? Refer to point 1; Cristobal's record as a head coach leaves much to be desired. Is it possible that he's better suited to be the Hand of the King and not the King himself? (Shoutout to all my Game of Thrones fans). Some people just aren't cut to be the top guy. And, it's possible, that Cristobal is one of those guys.
Mario Cristobal is a native son of Miami. He played here, he coached here, he's from here. And, he has the experience as a head coach (though not with amazing success) that the administration is reportedly looking for in the next person to lead this team.
With an outsider as the leading recruiter, Miami was still able to recruit to a high level, averaging 11th over the past 5 years. With an ace recruiter like Cristobal running the show, Miami could conceivably, and easily, have a roster as talented as anybody in America within 3 years. Easily.
With all of that being said, there are still drawbacks to Cristobal as Head Coach, mainly his record at FIU. Add on top of that questions about who his staff would be, and what the identity of the team would be, and there's plenty to put opposite any positives for Cristobal.
To a large extent, Cristobal IS Miami. Now, we have to decide of he's the man to lead THIS Miami program forward.