I’ve never been able to look back and watch a replay a game of where Miami loses. To be honest, most Miami fans probably can’t. It’s just not in our DNA, and understandably so. Who would want to do that?
Well, there’s always an exception. There was one moment that served to change the fortunes of the Miami football program, and for the better. Ok, well, there were actually two, I guess. The first:
Kirk Herbstreit just went scorched earth on Miami’s administration. pic.twitter.com/fAQl8hhlO3— Spark College Football (@SparkCFB) September 25, 2021
If Miami indeed ends up being back, build this man a statute on campus. And the second aforementioned thing:
Take these two things together, and the pressure built up enough to blow out both the in-over-his-head Manny Diaz and the way, way, way, too comfortable and tenured Blake James. Both moves were necessary to take the program in a fresh, new direction.
I like Manny Diaz. He seems like a good person. I wanted him to succeed as such, but he wasn’t ready for this. Miami needed a head coach with experience. Someone who understands the unique nature of the Miami program, has good, established relationships with the local high schools, and knows what being in charge of the Miami program means.
Enter one Mario Cristobal.
It's a great day to be a Miami Hurricane. pic.twitter.com/daUkcLVVwc— Canes Football (@CanesFootball) December 6, 2021
There was no better candidate, and - with the renewed commitment to winning by the school - there was no better timing for him to come home. A man who sweated and bled on the Greentree Practice Field while winning championships a generation ago. And that passion hasn’t lessened one bit:
*runs through brick wall* pic.twitter.com/jeFIfUy5ac— Canes Football (@CanesFootball) December 7, 2021
When looking at Cristobal, my immediate instinct - fair or not - is to compare him to his predecessor. When I do, the first thing that sticks out to me is a sense of accountability. He’s used that word before, most notably after an up and down spring game. Accountability and discipline. How much did we talk about a seeming lack thereof over the past 3-4 years, especially at wide receiver? It was borderline comical. Playing the players who deserve to be out there and implementing true competition at all positions is something that can only make this team better. Players will leave via the portal. That’s the nature of college football today. It’s up to the coaches to determine who deserves to play and wants to be here, and let the others hit the bricks.
And speaking of coaches, it speaks largely to Cristobal his ability to pull in a well-respected and accomplished staff of coordinators and coaches like he was able to do in a short period of time. Frank Broyles Award winner Josh Gattis, Kevin Steele, Alex Mirabal, Joe Salave’a, Charlie Strong, Jahmil Addae, Frank Ponce, Rod Wright, and Kevin Smith all flocked to Coral Gables. That’s such a wealth of knowledge and winning football to assemble so quickly, it’s really astounding.
And perhaps the area I’m most excited about in that regard is Mirabal and Cristobal working together to improve this program’s extraordinarily subpar offensive line group. That’s where Miami needs the biggest area of improvement on offense, and I’m not sure I could find two better coaches to do that than those two. That will be the area I’m most excited to watch this fall, as far as on the offensive side of the ball.
I’m also looking forward to seeing how Cristobal, Steele, and Strong can improve this linebacking corps. The Strong hire is perhaps the most impressive of all of them. It’s not everyday you can convince the former head coach of the Texas Longhorns and the defensive coordinator of two national champions to come and coach up a positional group. This bunch has nowhere to go but up, so I think Strong could end up being perhaps Cristobal’s most important hire when it’s all said and done.
And here we sit, at the precipice of what we hope is the next great era of Miami football. The school is committed to winning, from President Julio Frenk to new AD Dan Radakovich to Cristobal. This would have been something we wouldn’t have even dared to dream at 2-4 last season, but pinch yourself, Canes fans. It’s real.
Now, it’s time get to work.