Mario Cristobal Miami: How his hiring is good for the BFC as a whole

Love them or hate them, there are teams whose improvement benefits their sport as a whole. Think about the New York Knicks in the NBA, the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL, the New York Yankees in MLB and the Duke Blue Devils in college basketball. When these teams are good, people pay more attention because everyone is sure to have an opinion on them.

The same rings true in college football. However, it is much more difficult for illustrious programs of the past to rebuild given the current chaotic state of the sport. The states of Alabamas, Ohio, Georgia, Oklahoma and the Clemsons of the world will have no problem regardless of the direction of college football, but Texas, Nebraska and Miami – programs with rich stories – have lost their place among the big dogs.

The pieces are in motion for that to change soon for the Miami Hurricanes.

Hiring Mario Cristobal

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RELATED: Why the 2001 Miami Hurricanes are the greatest NCAA team of all time

Miami was at a crossroads after the 2021 season. Former head coach Manny Diaz was fresh off a 7-5 campaign, roughly tied since the program’s historic national championship in 2001, but his future was uncertain. Why? Miami was finally ready to invest in their athleticsand with the extra money, they could go after a prodigal son who was stationed in Eugene, Oregon.

Mario Cristobal had no reason to leave Oregon. After all, he led the Ducks to two Pac-12 titles during his five-year tenure and had all the resources he wanted. But, Miami was different. Cristobal grew up in Miami, won two national championships as an offensive tackle at “The U” and was an assistant there for three seasons. His alma mater was the only job he would leave for, and once he saw the program’s renewed dedication, he packed his bags for home.

The Miami administration said they would have held Diaz had Cristobal turned them down, but when he didn’t, they trotted triumphantly around the bases. Sure, Cristobal is a hometown kid, but he’s also one of the best scouts in the country.

Recruit, Recruit, Recruit

Yes, Cristobal grew up in Miami, but he also has experience recruiting to the area as a head coach. He cut his teeth at the helm of Florida International, which sits just down the road from Miami, for five years before being controversially let go after the 2012 season. Alabama’s Nick Saban saw the promise in Cristobal and brought him on his team as offensive line coach the following year.

During his tenure at Tuscaloosa, Cristobal helped the Crimson Tide reel into the top-ranked recruiting class four years in a row. His efforts were recognized by 247Sports, ESPN, Rivals and Scoutwho named him best recruiter in the country in 2015. In Oregon, Cristobal landed four of the top 15 recruiting classes, including two in the top 10, in a less abundant talent region.

In Coral Gables, Cristobal should feast on the best talent pool in the country. In fact, he has already started swallowing. Miami’s new head coach inked Francis Mauigoa, the top offensive tackle in the 2023 recruiting class, in July. He also nailed seventh-row rusher Jayden Wayne and seventh-row quarterback Jaden Rashada. The Hurricanes also stay in the game for 13 of the top 100 recruits, according to 247Sports. Seven of them are five stars. They currently sit as ninth grade of cycle ’23. Keep in mind that this is only her first class. He’s poised to make Miami one of the hottest recruiting destinations in the country, much like free agency does in professional sports.

College football is better when Miami is good

Introductory press conference by Mario Cristobal.
Mark Brown via Getty Images

Even with all the changes college football has gone through, Miami is better positioned than most to crack the sport’s elite programs. Recruitment is by far the biggest part, and now that they are receiving administrative support and have an elite head coach, the Canes’ return is actually realistic.

And look, I’m a Nebraska fan. I have every reason to hate Miami. That said, parity is always welcome. Seeing someone other than a state of Alabama or Ohio in the mix would be good for the sport. The same goes for Texas. Will I encourage any of them? Surely not. But will I tune in to see how they’re doing each week? Damn, yes. New blood is fun. The revitalized programs we grew up watching are fun no matter which side you’re on.

This season, Cristobal has a stud quarterback in Tyler Van Dyke and a talented receiving corps as well as seven returning starters on defense. As far as their schedule goes, you can count on their Sept. 17 game with Texas A&M at College Station being a bloodbath with a pivot. ACC games against Clemson and Pittsburgh. He also got rid of the famous rolling chain, which was installed by former head coach Mark Richt in 2017.

“Certainly history is history, and whether it’s positive, whether it’s inconsequential, whatever it is, it’s still part of the story and part of your program,” said Cristobal, by ESPN. “We’re just going in a direction that right now doesn’t involve it. This is really the best way to approach the problem.

The 2022 campaign will be about Cristobal laying the groundwork for a new era of Miami football. The finished product transforming into a tower of Miami would be a sight to behold.

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