The Miami Hurricanes capped off a disappointing 2014 season with a loss to Pittsburgh last Saturday, their third in a row. The collapse began with blowing a 16-point lead to Florida State and ended with the Canes finishing the season 6-6, putting Miami in danger of finishing below .500 with a bowl game loss.
As you might have heard by now, Canes fans are displeased, and Al Golden is taking the brunt of their displeasure. Golden now sits 16-16 in the ACC during his tenure with the Hurricanes, 28-21 overall at Miami, and an even 55-55 in his career as a head coach -- startlingly mediocre numbers from a coach whom Hurricanes fans once had so much confidence in.
That confidence and belief are now gone. Time is up; the University of Miami should move on, fire Al Golden, and offer Alabama offensive line coach and ex-Hurricane two-time champion Mario Cristobal their head-coaching position.
Cristobal is the man who can bring the swagger back to the U, and here's why.
5. Cristobal would be a far better recruiter in South Florida than Al Golden has been since he came to Miami.
If the University of Miami is serious about rebuilding that fence around "the State of Miami," hiring Cristobal would be a good start. He has already been paying big dividends for the Crimson Tide on the South Florida recruiting trail since joining Alabama's staff in 2013:
"If you want to compete in South Florida for talent, you better have one of your best recruiters working down there," said Barton Simmons, a national recruiting analyst for 247Sports. "That's the case with any program, even Alabama. Right now Alabama is not just competing in South Florida, it's winning.
"Mario Cristobal is the primary reason for that."
Al Golden is routinely letting local high-school stars slip through his fingers, while rivals like FSU scoop them up by the handful. He will tell you that "you can't sign them all," but what he won't tell you is he either has no shot at the local cream of the crop or simply loses out and settles for lesser players -- a losing strategy when the biggest knock on your staff is they don't coach up players very well.
Hiring Cristobal would give the Canes recruiting efforts a boost of energy and offer them a much better shot at landing local kids based on the future, not the past.
4. Cristobal is more qualified to be the Hurricanes coach than Al Golden ever was, which is pretty sad.
Looking back, how ridiculous does it seem that the Miami bleeping Hurricanes handed the head-coaching job to a man who went 27-34 at Temple; there should be steps between Temple and Miami, especially if you're not a Miami guy. Cristobal is a Miami guy, and he also won 27 games in his first head-coaching gig -- at FIU! When Cristobal took over the Golden Panthers, they were a laughingstock, and a few short years later they were Little Caesar's Bowl champions. Laugh at the Little Caesar's Bowl all you want, but the Hurricanes are rumored to be headed to the Bitcoin Bowl this year.
In addition to having a similar resumé of momentarily turning around a crappy football program, Cristobal has actually coached at UM, not to mention played for the team, so there's no doubt he's aware of the surroundings and would need little time to adjust to Coral Gables.
Cristobal may actually be more qualified to be the Miami Hurricanes coach than Al Golden was when they hired him away from Temple, and that's saying something when you think about it.
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3. Cristobal has spent the past two years learning from the best under Nick Saban at Alabama.
Cristobal was the Miami tight end coach for two minutes; then Nick Saban and Alabama snatched him up to be their offensive line coach before Cristobal ever got a chance to step on the field at Miami. Bad then, but great now if the Hurricanes are to hire him. Alabama is as close to the NFL as a college program gets, and Cristobal has spent the last two years seeing how it's done at the highest level in the sport, so you can be sure if he were given the job at Miami, that experience would greatly influence how he would run the Canes program.
College football is an ever-changing beast of a business, and nobody has it figured out better than the University of Alabama. Maybe Mario Cristobal can bring over some of the things that make Alabama so successful.
2. Cristobal is a Miami guy and would receive a lot more patience from the fan base.
"But Randy Shannon was a Miami guy!" you might say. That's true, but he coached during a different time at UM and was a complete asshole to almost everyone outside his players, so this wouldn't be apples-to-apples. Cristobal is an ex-Canes player with two rings, and he speaks Spanish. If you were at Build-a-Bear trying to make the next Hurricanes coach from scratch, those would definitely be qualities you would chose.
Cristobal was born and bred in Miami, and he is invested in this area, not Pennsylvania. This isn't a hire about tomorrow. The Hurricanes are pretty far off a national championship no matter who is coach, so they need to bring in someone who will get the benefit of the doubt from the fan base.
1. Making Golden and his staff go away will be expensive, and Cristobal won't be.
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It's well documented that Al Golden has a contract that runs through 2019, so one has to believe that parting ways with him won't exactly come cheap. The Hurricanes will be forced to pay Golden a large sum to go away, and because UM is a private institution, it's tough to imagine the university also paying a big-name coach big money to clean up his mess; this is why Cristobal makes so much sense as the next hire. He would be on the lower end of the coaches' contract salary scale, partially making up for money lost in the Al Golden Experiment. Any other way seems tough to imagine.
The Hurricanes can't afford to throw NFL money at a new coach after firing Golden -- it's just not realistic. Hiring Cristobal on a fair "show-me" deal that he takes because it's his dream job would offset the hurt of paying Golden to coach elsewhere.