In December, the Miami Hurricanes hired Mario Cristobal to be their next head coach. This homecoming is expected to thrust the Hurricanes back into national championship consideration.
Miami had some success when Mark Richt led the program from 2016-2018. After Richt left, the Hurricanes fell behind most of the ACC and the country in recruiting and in the national rankings. Their last ACC Championship Game appearance was in 2017 under Richt. They saw a very short window of being ranked in the College Football Playoff top-10. When Richt left Miami after the 2018 season, they hired Manny Diaz with the hope that he would be able to get Miami to the College Football Playoff.
Unfortunately for Diaz, his program never reached the heights that he aspired to. Diaz went 21-15 at Miami and the program was stuck in the middle of the ACC. From 2019-2021, the Hurricanes posted a 16-9 conference record. Diaz had success at the end of the season, as Miami won five of their last six games after they started the season with a 2-4 record. The end of the season was not good enough for the fanbase to want to bring Diaz back as their head coach.
The program needed to hire a new coach that understood the inner workings of the University of Miami. That standard made it clear that there was only one candidate who could fix the Hurricanes. That coach was Cristobal.
When you put on that U… it’s gotta’ mean everything.
— Canes Football (@CanesFootball) December 9, 2021
Cristobal was Miami’s top target in the head coach market because of his ties to the university. He played at Miami from 1989-1992 as an offensive lineman. After his playing career, he returned to Miami as a graduate assistant from 1998-2000. He spent three seasons with Rutgers before he found his way back in Coral Gables, Fla. Cristobal was hired as the tight ends coach in 2004 and he coached them for two seasons. He moved over to coach Miami’s offensive line for one season in 2006.
The Hurricanes saw an opportunity to hire one of their own and they did not wait. They lured Cristobal away from the Oregon Ducks after they lost to the Utah Utes in the Pac-12 Championship Game on Dec. 3. He served as Oregon’s head coach from December 2017-December 2021.
Coach Cristobal jumped on the @CFBONFOX Live Tailgate last night with Joel Klatt and Kayvon Thibodeaux to discuss his deep ties to UM and what lies ahead for the Hurricanes heading into the spring. pic.twitter.com/2Rzfq4hreE
— Canes Football (@CanesFootball) January 11, 2022
Cristobal’s Miami roots ran deep and it was time for him to return home. He was raised in Miami for his entire childhood. It was a matter of time before Cristobal became the head coach at his alma mater.
Miami had interest in Cristobal in 2018 when they were searching for a new head coach. Cristobal stayed at Oregon for three more seasons before he made the 3,274-mile trek from Eugene to Coral Gables. Some questioned the decision to leave a respected program like Oregon for Miami, but Cristobal felt that it was the right choice for him and his family.
He did not come to Miami from Oregon alone. He brought several former Oregon assistants with him, including Bryan McClendon, Alex Mirabal, Joe Salave’a, and Aaron Feld.
The pressure will be on Cristobal to bring the Hurricanes back to their first national championship game appearance since 2002. Part of his duties will be keeping high school talent from Florida in-state to play college football for Miami. He played for the Hurricanes as a student-athlete and he will be able to connect with these players on a different level.