Why Super Mario is Perfect for UMiami


It’s a great day to be a Miami Hurricane! The prodigal son of Miami has returned and it’s hard to put into words the surreal and elated feeling that all members of the Canes family are feeling right now. Mario Cristobal is now the head football coach of the University of Miami Hurricanes and he is exactly the right man to steer the ship! It always felt like the union of the football program and Super Mario leading it was an inevitability, but odd untimely forces always seemed to get in the way of the reunion. Now it’s clear that those forces were necessary experiences that Coach Cristobal needed to have in order to prepare him for this exact moment. He has logged hundreds of thousands of miles crisscrossing this country end-to-end while procuring information and obtaining contacts to fill out his network. These experiences in Westchester, Coral Gables, Little Havana, New Brunswick, Modesto A. Maidique, Tuscaloosa, and Eugene, have built the confident man who has now returned back to Coral Gables with the knowledge that he needs to restore his beloved university to where it used to be and will be again in the not-too-distant future.

Before we talk about our hopeful future, we have to address our past and the events that brought us here. Manny Diaz marketed the “U” brand the best way he knew how: via different media platforms. He was a skilled tactician on Twitter and knew how to connect with the youth on their level using trinkets that he knew they liked. The turnover chain was a big hit in my household and is a tradition that I will be sad to see go away. Manny displayed lots of swagger and bravado with his hashtag TNM which stood for “the new Miami” when he took over after Richt’s retirement. He did things like pulling up to The Wharf on the Miami River front on a yacht and crashing the FSU coaching convention in Orlando blasting loud music, giving out beer, and stealing the show from the Seminole coaches who could only watch in bewilderment. Manny would throw up the bat signal or Category 5 Hurricane gif on social media before a big recruiting commitment came in to get the fanbase buzzing. He would take the field at the front of his team running in Yeezys. These stories about Manny Diaz and the program certainly had a legendary feel to them; however, the results on the field that were necessary to keep his regime going never came to fruition.

Diaz returned from his three second stint at Temple with a splash and lots of fanfare, but he never lived up to the promises made in his introductory press conference because he was too much of a player’s coach and didn’t hold the players accountable when they weren’t doing things the right way. Manny’s head coaching tenure was paralyzed by his inability to replace underperforming upperclassmen with more talented underclassmen because of his perception of how to display loyalty. Fidelity to winning should always take precedence over promises made to a player in the recruiting winning because the program’s success is more important than the individual. Manny as a first-time head coach took too long to appreciate that lesson and it cost him his dream job.

Coach Cristobal is the polar opposite and converse of Manny Diaz in those regards and that is what makes him a perfect fit for the Miami head coaching job. That’s what made him the perfect fit. Cristobal has built a successful Power 5 program in Oregon that was a top recruiting program, went to three straight Pac 12 championship games, two Pac 12 championships, and a Rose Bowl win to his name. He learned from Nick Saban what things are most important organizationally to win at a high level consistently and he applied them successfully at UO.

When Cristobal took over Oregon after Willie Taggart’s departure for Florida State, they were a struggling program that hovered around.500 and had recruiting classes ranked around #30 in the nation. After, Super Mario took over in Eugene their winning percentage increased dramatically and posted recruiting classes in the top 6 on average, never lower than the #10 ranked class in the country. Cristobal built an offensive line that was one of the best in the country at pass protection, firing off the ball in the running attack, and included Penei Sewell (who ended up being a first round NFL talent).

Many questioned if Super Mario would actually leave Oregon because of all of the facilities and booster money at Oregon. Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, is an Oregon booster so I understood the pessimism. However, I always scoffed at those reasons for Mario Cristobal to not come because they underestimated the allure of returning home to coach at the school he loved and overestimated comfort and facilities. I always knew that if Miami came calling, Super Mario would take the call and listen to the offer. If the offer was good enough, there is no way that he could have said no. The offer would definitely be good enough if The U came calling because contrary to popular belief, the Hurricanes have rich and powerful boosters as well.

Coach Cristobal is an alpha type coach who is never afraid of a challenge. This Miami job is challenging but has a lot of structural advantages as well. Mario sees things as they will be under his leadership, not as they currently are under the leadership of someone else. Therefore, it was hard for him to not get excited about being the coach to bring Miami back to its rightful place at the mountain top of college football. South Florida produces the most division 1 and NFL talent in the country and Mario will do a great job in keeping our kids home and developing them properly.

The University of Miami is the only team in South Florida made up of players who are from South Florida. In that regard, they are truly the only “Miami” team in the market. These kids understand that and want to play at home in front of their families. However, they also want to compete for championships and be developed for a potential professional football career in the NFL as well. Recently, the University of Miami has not been doing much of either so the South Florida talent has been poached by other programs like Alabama, Clemson, Michigan, Georgia, and Ohio State. All of that stops today. The University of Miami is a sleeping giant and Mario intends to be the one to wake up the beast.

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