Mario Cristobal has officially been announced as the head football coach of the Miami Hurricanes. Cristobal, the former Oregon Ducks head coach, comes to Miami to replace former head coach Manny Diaz. Cristobal posted a 35-13 record (23-9 in the Pac-12) as the head coach of the Ducks, including four straight bowl appearances.
Cristobal is a Miami native, a national recruiter, and a tireless worker. Cristobal was spotted at a Miami Central High School practice, still in his suit from his introductory press conference. On day one Cristobal was making in-home visits, and out scouting high school practices.
Now that the Diaz Administration is over; what are the Strengths, Opportunities, Weaknesses, and Threats of the Cristobal Administration?
Authenticity is Coach Cristobal’s number one strength. He has the self-esteem to be an authentic person. When Cristobal stood at the press conference you couldn’t help but feel his passion, and it didn’t seem feigned. He wasn’t anxious (Diaz), or relieved (Richt), he was determined. I’ve heard one insider call him one of the few ‘good men’ in college football.
Clarity. Confidence. Conviction.
The product of authenticity, for Cristobal, is Clarity. Confidence. Conviction. You can tell that there is a clear path and set of goals and expectations. He has the Confidence to demand facilities (already in the works) upgrades, and an increased budget for assistants, staffers, etc.
Cristobal is also showing the Conviction to back up what he says. He didn’t sit back and enjoy the press conference buzz, he got to work. Cristobal immediately hit up a high school practice at Central and has plans to be in Texas. He’s a national recruiter from his time spent at Alabama and Oregon.
Organization, accountability and recruiting
I wasn’t sure if I should discuss Cristobal’s recruiting or his organization and accountability talents first. They all go so hand in hand. Cristobal is known as a demanding employer. That’s a good thing. As you can see, he’s as accountable to the standard he sets as he expects his assistants to be.
It’s quite impossible to hold the players accountable for their actions and behaviors if the staff isn’t accountable to the same standards. Under Cristobal, accountability will be much more than a buzzword on an inspirational poster.
His relationship building via his authenticity is how he gets in the recruit’s door, his organizational skills and tireless effort is how he pulled players from all over the country up to dreary Eugene, Oregon from Texas, Florida, and Souther California.
You can expect younger players to get playing time, both to create depth for NFL early departures but also for injuries and to keep them happy. Potential blowouts might just be good wins under Cristobal, but as he said he’s a Servant Leader that’s here to serve.
Unlike past Miami head coaches, Cristobal has created a massive network to draw assistants and staffers from. Coaching at Rutgers under Greg Schiano, his own ability to spot coaching talent while the head coach at FIU, and then his time spent at Alabama under Nick Saban and at Oregon under Willie Taggart and as the HC has opened his web to unparalleled width and depth at Miami.
If Cristobal brings Aaron Feld, he knows him from Alabama. Offensive line coach Alex Mirabal from high school, but also through numerous college coaching stops along the way. Or even current Miami coach Stephen Field, when Field was on Mario’s staff in Oregon.
With decades of contacts and having coached at three major Power 5 programs (his previous stop at Miami included) I expect a staff of varied thoughts, opinions, backgrounds, and methods to the madness that is a winning college football program.
Mario Cristobal has two glaring weaknesses heading into his new head coaching job at Miami.
Game day coaching
Unlike his former head coach Dennis Erickson, and much like his former mentor Butch Davis, Mario Cristobal does struggle during game days to make the right call. His teams seem to lose inexplicably to someone every year. Case in point, Stanford in ‘21, Oregon State and Cal in ‘20 (COVID was a whack year for everyone, but for sure the Pac-12). Arizona State in ‘19, and Arizona and Utah in 2018.
There have been issues with quarterbacks, penalties, kicking woes, bad play calling, and clock management. The hope would be that improved coordinator hires and more experience as a Power 5 head coach can alleviate some of those issues.
This is another area where Cristobal needs to improve ASAP. Justin Herbert played well but failed to win the Heisman Trophy while in Eugene. 21-6 isn’t terrible for a QB but someone of Hebert’s caliber should’ve had a record closer to 25-2.
Also, Cristobal had to rely on Anthony Brown this season and he was clearly a terrible quarterback. Oregon signed four-star blue chip QB’s but none could beat out Brown? That was one glaring weakness for Mario at Oregon that is fixed slightly by having Tyler Van Dyke on the roster, and could be entirely fixed with an OC hire of Joe Brady.
Cristobal is going to have all the opportunity in the world because the big money players in Miami, FL believe he’s worth the investment. The same couldn’t be said for Al Golden, Randy Shannon or even Manny Diaz. Would you give millions to someone who will just turn around and give Jonathan Patke a raise?
Does Mario need a crash course on how to be a head coach like Diaz did? Absolutely not. But many head coaches have hired on senior advisors and Cristobal and Davis do have a past relationship. Should Davis be on the field? No. But he could be a valuable asset to Cristobal in other ways.
National branding, again
I know I mentioned tireless recruiting earlier, but the fact that Cristobal has spent the better part of the last decade recruiting nationally for the Crimson Tide and Ducks means Miami can get back to being more than an after-thought on the national stage. Cristobal is connected, The U is The U, and The ACC Network just got picked up by Comcast.
The only threat here is the threat that kills most good head coaches: stubbornness. Do I think Cristobal is going to be stubborn and refuse to adapt his development and deployment? No. I think he’ll figure out quickly what works in South Florida and what doesn’t.
Cristobal will be recruiting on his home turf, playing off of his network and national recruiting experience, and he has a massive bank account right now to play ball with.
Am I excited about the Cristobal hire? You’re damn right I am. I’m almost as excited as his strength coach gets over new mustache wax scents and a clearance sale on polos in the Nike Kids department. I had no excitement over the baffling Randy Shannon and Manny Diaz hires. I had some excitement over Al Golden, and a good amount over Mark Richt. This time I’m cranked to about 10.5/10. I’m saving full 11 for the first ACC Championship Game.