Just a season ago, FIU football coach Mario Cristobal's name was being tossed around as a possibility for some very high profile coaching gigs at bigger schools. Instead he decided to stick with the Golden Panthers. Apparently loyalty doesn't pay. The school fired Cristobal today after a disappointing 3-9 season.
The school released the following statement:
"Today we informed Coach (Mario) Cristobal that a change was being made in the direction of our football program. I want to thank Coach for all that he has done to develop the football program over the past six seasons," FIU Executive Director of Sports and Entertainment Pete Garcia said. "We will now turn our attention to attract the very best candidate to fill the position of head coach. We will begin a national search immediately."
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A former University of Miami player and assistant coach, Cristobal spent six seasons at FIU with a 27-47 record. He was only the school's second head football coach. In 2010 and 2011, it appeared that he had helped the team turn a corner, and the Golden Panthers made it to their first two bowl games in program history. The team also won their first Sun Belt conference championship.
Cristobal's name was being thrown around as a possible candidate to fill vacancies at Pitt and Rutgers, but instead signed a contract extension with FIU over the summer. That deal would have kept him at the school until 2017.
Starting next season, FIU will begin competing in Conference USA.