Cristobal as FIU head coach in 2011.
|Title||Offensive line coach|
September 24, 1970 |
|Alma mater||Miami (FL)|
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|1998–2000||Miami (FL) (GA)|
|2004–2005||Miami (FL) (TE)|
|2006||Miami (FL) (OL)|
|Head coaching record|
|Accomplishments and honors|
|1 Sun Belt (2010)|
|National Recruiter of the Year (2015)
Sun Belt Coach of the Year (2010)
Mario Manuel Cristobal (born September 24, 1970) is an American football coach and former player. He currently is the offensive line coach at the University of Alabama. He was the head coach at FIU from 2007 to 2012, becoming the first ever Cuban-American Division I head football coach.
High school career
Cristobal was a four-year letterman with the University of Miami Hurricanes football team between 1989-1992. During this time Cristobal was a member of the Hurricanes' 1989 and 1991 national championship teams and in 1992 earned First-Team All-Big East Conference as an offensive tackle.
After graduating from Miami in 1993, Cristobal was signed by the Denver Broncos in 1994 as an undrafted free agent playing only in the preseason. He then went on to join the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe for the 1995 and 1996 seasons before retiring to pursue coaching.
Prior to being named FIU's head coach, Cristobal spent two stints at Miami. From 1998 to 2000, he served as a graduate assistant. From 2004 to 2006, he served as tight ends coach and offensive line coach. From 2001 to 2003, Cristobal was the tight ends and offensive line coach at Rutgers University under Greg Schiano.
Florida International University
On December 19, 2006, Cristobal was named the second head coach in FIU's history. Having worked as an assistant at Rutgers during their transformation to a competitive program in the Big.
For his first months of work at FIU, Cristobal implemented a spread offense, and stated that he expected FIU to achieve success "faster than what we did at Rutgers", a process which "took five years."
His first season, however, was anything but successful. FIU struggled for most of the season, losing their first eleven games. However, on December 1, the Golden Panthers finally broke a Football Bowl Subdivision leading 23-game losing skid with a 38-19 victory over North Texas.
His second season showed definite signs of improvement. After three back-to-back, out-of-conference losses to Kansas, Iowa and USF, the Golden Panthers under Cristobal pulled together an upset win against MAC opponent Toledo. The team used this momentum to build a three-game winning streak, defeating Sun Belt Conference opponents North Texas and MTSU before it continued on to finish with a 5-7 record. The team was two wins away from a bowl game before falling out of contention in the 2008 Shula Bowl against in-state rivals FAU in a 57-50 OT loss, before finishing its season with an at-home victory over Western Kentucky.
The third season under Cristobal came with high expectations after winning five games the previous year. The team regressed under his leadership and took a step back going 3-9 overall, with wins coming against North Texas, WKU, and Louisiana-Lafayette. During the off season recruiting period, Cristobal was able to secure FIU's first ESPN 150 player, Willis Wright, from nearby Miami Springs High, the same school that produced T.Y. Hilton.
Cristobal carries a reputation of being an excellent recruiter, setting up for his third season at FIU by putting together an impressive recruiting class of 23 student athletes, at least 20 of them from Florida. He wears a customary shirt and tie along with dress pants for each and every game to honor his idol, Joe Paterno. He was also named the fittest coach currently in the FBS according to an ESPN blog to which he confirmed on The Dan Le Batard Show on May 29, 2009. As of the 2009 season Mario Cristobal has retired the "shirt-and-tie" look and has opted to wear traditional collared shirts during games.
On December 5, 2012 Cristobal was relieved of his position as head coach of the FIU Football program. FIU Athletic Director Pete Garcia explained his reasoning for firing Cristobal as "He's done a very good job for this program, but we’ve gone backwards over the last year and a half. Over the last 22 games, we've gone 8-14." The decision by Garcia was heavily criticized for its rashness.
The University of Miami hired Cristobal in January 2013 as a tight end coach and an associate head coach. He was next hired by Alabama as its new offensive line coach just six weeks later, in February 2013.
After being predicted to finish sixth in the conference in the preseason by the Sun Belt Writers Association, Cristobal led his young Panthers team to their first Sun Belt Conference Championship after four years at the helm. FIU who had never had a winning season prior to the 2010 campaign saw themselves atop the conference tied with Troy University who shared a similar 6-2 conference record. FIU did win their head-to-head matchup with Troy, 52-35. At the conclusion of the season FIU was selected to participate in their first bowl game, the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. They won with a field goal in the closing seconds against Toledo, 34-32 after Toledo went for a two-point conversion to take the lead 32-31. That win gave them a 7-6 record, their first ever winning record.
Head coaching record
|FIU Golden Panthers / Panthers (Sun Belt Conference) (2007–2012)|
|2010||FIU||7–6||6–2||T–1st||W Little Caesars Pizza|
|2011||FIU||8–5||5–3||4th||L Beef 'O' Brady's|
Among Cristobal's assistant coaches who have later become head coaches at the NCAA Division I level:
- Pelegrin, Pete (December 20, 2006). "'A dream come true' for new FIU coach". Miami Herald. Archived from the original on January 14, 2007. Retrieved May 31, 2014.
- David J. Neal, FIU fires football coach Cristobal, The Miami Herald, December 6, 2012, accessed December 11, 2012.
- Greg Cote, Greg Cote: FIU’s decision to fire Mario Cristobal impatient, unfair, The Miami Herald, December 6, 2012, accessed December 11, 2012.
- Tim Rohan, When Best Still Isn’t Good Enough, The New York Times, December 5, 2012, accessed December 11, 2012.
- David Moulton, David Moulton: Thoughts on the college football coaching landscape and more, Naples Daily News, December 11, 2012, accessed December 11, 2012.
- Goodbread, Chase (February 18, 2013). "Alabama hires Mario Cristobal as offensive line coach". The Tuscaloosa News. Retrieved February 19, 2013.