The college football coaching carousel continues to spin out of control with Miami and Oregon the latest to ramp up the chaos.
The Hurricanes landed their next head coach in Oregon’s Mario Cristobal, who played for the Hurricanes as an offensive lineman under legendary head coach Jimmy Johnson.
How Cristobal arrived in Coral Gables — being recruited by his alma mater while his predecessor Manny Diaz was still under contract and employed by Miami — arguably made more headlines than the actual hire itself.
BENDER: Best candidates to replace Cristobal at Oregon
The Hurricanes finally and officially fired Diaz on Monday morning, bringing closure to a bizarre process that includes a simultaneous search for a new Athletic Director. The school added that an announcement regarding “new leadership” was forthcoming.
Oregon, meanwhile announced Cristobal officially stepped down as coach to accept the same position with another university, widely believed to be Miami.
SOURCES: Oregon’s Mario Cristobal did a players-only meeting to tell them that he’s leaving to become the new head coach at Miami. Most of his staff is on the road and learned of it after. AD Rob Mullens has scheduled a staff meeting for 9 AM: https://t.co/NMexj5sY90
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) December 6, 2021
During his time in Eugene, Cristobal became known as a top-tier recruiter. The Ducks currently have the ninth best class for 2022 according to 247Sports, while Miami ranks just 52nd.
MORE: How Miami recruited Cristobal with former coach Diaz still under contract
Over the last three seasons under Diaz, the Hurricanes were 21-15 and are 7-5 this year, but won five of their last six to become bowl eligible.
Sporting News has everything you need to know about Miami’s next head coach.
Mario Cristobal contract details
Miami is expected to pay Cristobal around $8 million annually, according to The Athletic’s Chris Vannini. That figure comes on top of an additional $17 million to buy Diaz out of his contract and Cristobal out of his with Oregon.
Although money talks, Cristobal left a situation in Oregon where money was rarely an issue thanks to Nike founder Phil Knight’s presence in the athletic department and willingness to fund expenditures.
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In fact, reports surfaced that Oregon, with Knight’s backing and approval, was slated to offer Cristobal a 10 year, $85 million extension to keep the coach in Eugene. However, the offer was apparently rescinded when Cristobal didn’t sign the contract and left on a recruiting trip.
Cristobal was already in the middle of a $27.3 million deal that ran through 2026, after previously signing a contract extension back in December of 2020.
His new $8 million a year salary would make Cristobal the second-highest paid coach in the ACC behind only Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and one of the highest paid coaches in the country.
|1||Lincoln Riley||USC||$10 million-plus (estimated)|
|2||Nick Saban||Alabama||$9.8 million|
|T-3||Brian Kelly||LSU||$9.5 million|
|T-3||Mel Tucker||Michigan State||$9.5 million|
|5||David Shaw||Stanford||$8.9 million|
|6||Dabo Swinney||Clemson||$8.4 million|
|7||Jimbo Fisher||Texas A&M||$7.5 million|
|8||Kirby Smart||Georgia||$7.1 million|
|9||James Franklin||Penn State||$7 million|
|10||Ryan Day||Ohio State||$6.6 million|
Mario Cristobal success at Oregon
Like many of his predecessors, Cristobal managed to find considerable success with the Ducks and make them a relevant team nationally, even if the Pac-12 as a conference was never remarkably highly thought of.
Cristobal spent four seasons plus a bowl game as the head coach at Oregon, continuing a trend of Ducks’ coaches leaving after successful four year tenures. He went 35-13 with two Pac-12 titles and a top-5 finish in 2019.
In addition to Cristobal, the other coaches since 2008 to leave after four years or less include:
- Chip Kelly (2009-12, left for NFL): 46-7 with three Pac-12 titles and a national championship game berth
- Mark Helfrich (2013-16, fired): 37-16 with a Pac-12 title and a national championship game berth.
- Willie Taggart (2017, left for Florida State): 7-5 with a bowl appearance
- Mario Cristobal (2018-21, left for Miami): 35-13 with two Pac-12 titles and a top-5 ranking in 2019.
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He also developed a reputation as an elite recruiter, with this year’s class at Oregon in the top-10 nationally and brought in first-round picks Justin Herbert and Penei Sewell, among others.
Mario Cristobal’s Miami/Florida ties
Cristobal played for the Hurricanes as an offensive lineman from 1998-92 under Hall of Fame coaches Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson. He won two national championships with Miami in 1988 and 1991 and served on the offensive line in front of Heisman winner Gino Torretta.
He also got his first coaching gig at his alma mater, spending time as a graduate assistant from 1998-2000. After a stint at Rutgers, he returned to Coral Gables from 2004-06 coaching the offensive line and tight ends.
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His second stint in Miami overlapped with the likes of tight end Greg Olsen, defensive back Antrel Rolle, and several other prominent Hurricanes who went on to NFL careers.
Following his first return to Miami as an assistant, he was named the head coach at FIU, where he went 27-47 but won a Sun Belt title and was named the Sun Belt Coach of the Year in 2010.