Skip to content

Stunning: FIU fires Mario Cristobal

Mario Cristobal AP

Around this time a year ago, FIU coach Mario Cristobal was a candidate to become the head coach at both Pitt and Rutgers. Now, he’s out of a job altogether.

In a surprising move, Cristobal has been fired after six seasons according to FootballScoop.com and Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated. ESPN’s Brett McMurphy later confirmed the news. The university announced Cristobal’s dismissal a short time later.

“Today we informed Coach Cristobal a change was being made in the direction of our football program” said athletic director Pete Garcia. 

Cristobal had a 27-47 overall record and a 3-9 campaign this year, but the wins and losses don’tt nearly tell the story of what Cristobal has meant to FIU. He took over the program in 2007 one year removed from a winless season and led the Panthers to their first-ever winning seasons in back-to-back fashion in 2010 and ’11.

Cristobal, a former University of Miami player, has been instrumental in building FIU into a program that could compete in the Sun Belt Conference. He was connected to job openings at Rutgers and Pitt last year, but opted to stay and received a renegotiated contract from the school.

There are already reports that former UNC coach Butch Davis is the frontrunner for the job.

There has to be something more to Cristobal’s dismissal other than wins and losses. If not it would be a shocking (and stupid) move by the university.

Permalink 34 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: FIU Panthers, Rumor Mill, Sun Belt Conference, Top Posts
34 Responses to “Stunning: FIU fires Mario Cristobal”
  1. Admin says: Dec 5, 2012 10:30 AM

    Unless this dude is a younger version of Sandusky, this is a shocking decision. He led a start up program that was 0-11 before he got there to two bowl games (winning on of them).

  2. ukraiders says: Dec 5, 2012 10:36 AM

    It could be one of those “if you interview for a job you better accept it because you’ll be fired”. not saying it was smart but he was connected to the USF job and with the team heading to CUSA might have thought just let him go. Every small school wants a loyal guy like Peterson is to Boise. Cristobal seemed like that just last year now seems ready to go.

  3. cubano76 says: Dec 5, 2012 10:40 AM

    There has to be something more to this.

  4. ningenito78 says: Dec 5, 2012 10:48 AM

    Wow. I’m going to guess its what the guy above said. Maybe he interviewed for the USF job and that was the last straw. If that’s the case (or whatever the case is) what a stupid move by FIU. I’ll hold judgement but unless he did something to embarrass the school this is crazy.

  5. contract says: Dec 5, 2012 11:00 AM

    They just gave him an extension in July.

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/07/21/2904954/fiu-rewards-coach-mario-cristobal.html

  6. ningenito78 says: Dec 5, 2012 11:01 AM

    The Miami Herald had something about the FIU AD being good friends with Butch Davis, who happens to want to coach again. Either way, I bet Cristobal is kicking himself for not taking the Rutgers or Pitt job. That’s rough.

  7. scalpemseminoles says: Dec 5, 2012 11:09 AM

    I’m surprised by these comments. He was fired because he went 27-47 in 6 years.

  8. dc4546 says: Dec 5, 2012 11:22 AM

    scalpemseminoles says:
    Dec 5, 2012 11:09 AM
    I’m surprised by these comments. He was fired because he went 27-47 in 6 years.

    Not a great record, that’s true. But this is FIU, not FSU. They weren’t even close to relevant before he got there.

  9. raysfan1 says: Dec 5, 2012 11:25 AM

    @scalpem–
    Nobody is dismissing the idea that FIU could have decided that 3-9 this year, or his overall losing record, just isn’t good enough. However, if that is their reason, then the AD is an idiot. This was a doormat team, and he made it respectable. Good luck to them on doing better.

    As for firing a guy over interviewing elsewhere, that worked our great for BC, didn’t it?

  10. ningenito78 says: Dec 5, 2012 11:27 AM

    He had back to back winning seasons before this year and had the program trending up. Plus he turned down Rutgers and Pitt to stay AND signed an extension less than a year ago.

  11. v2the4 says: Dec 5, 2012 11:31 AM

    I feel sorry for Mario Christobal…he should have taken the Pitt job last year, but wanted to stay in his hometown and build upon what he started at F eye freaking U….he had back to back winning seasons in 2010 and 2011, even beating Louisville and USF last year….dude has a bad season this year and all of sudden, he’s fired?

    now the rumor is the AD at FIU, the same ass clown who hired and fired Isiah Thomas as the basketball coach, is interested in hiring his friend Butch Davis…..

    is this reality tv or what?

  12. piglesias20 says: Dec 5, 2012 11:38 AM

    @ v2the4 “I feel sorry for Mario Christobal…he should have taken the Pitt job last year, but wanted to stay in his hometown and build upon what he started at F eye freaking U….he had back to back winning seasons in 2010 and 2011, even beating Louisville and USF last year….dude has a bad season this year and all of sudden, he’s fired?”

    They beat UCF not USF lets make that clear.

  13. ningenito78 says: Dec 5, 2012 11:47 AM

    Well if you think about it this may work out perfectly. If Chryst takes the Wisconsin job Pitt can go ahead and offer Cristobal the job again. Bingo bango.

  14. trapperjd says: Dec 5, 2012 11:48 AM

    He may get the Pitt job after all if Chryst comes back to Madison…

  15. ajarkoski says: Dec 5, 2012 12:26 PM

    It is not a dumb move by the school at all and it might become a precedant for other schools. Coaches use their current position and salary as leverage. FIU took that away from him and had every legal right to do it. It is part of the game.
    Coaches screw the schools and this is a little payback. Love it!

  16. Deb says: Dec 5, 2012 12:37 PM

    @ajarkoski …

    You say “Coaches screw the schools and this is a little payback.” How do you figure that? Only in coaching is a job considered a marital relationship. I actually had an LSU fan tell me once to wait until Nick Saban “leaves you for a younger woman.” Good grief. These men have a right to go after a better opportunity just as you have a right to interview for a better job. That’s not screwing a school.

    For every coach who moves up, a dozen get fired without notice. It’s just like when any employee leaves a job. You give two-weeks notice so the company has time to find a replacement. But if the boss wants to get rid of you, they escort you from the building and that’s that. Let’s stop pretending these guys signed their contracts in blood.

    Fortunately for Cristobal some coaching vacancies are still available.

  17. ningenito78 says: Dec 5, 2012 12:42 PM

    I agree with Deb. I mean if you’re a school like FIU having a coach that is deemed worthy of a bigger job is really the best you can hope for. Chris Pederson is a complete rarity. Schools like FIU are and always will be considered stepping stone schools by coaches with aspirations. If the administration really thinks they can fight that they are living in a fantasy world.

  18. scalpemseminoles says: Dec 5, 2012 12:51 PM

    ningenito78 says:
    Dec 5, 2012 11:27 AM
    He had back to back winning seasons before this year and had the program trending up.

    —————-

    How exactly is going 3-9 “trending up” after back to back winning seasons?

  19. ningenito78 says: Dec 5, 2012 12:58 PM

    He had a rough season but if you actually have an idea what the program was like when he took over you would understand what I mean by ‘trending up’. They had a rash of injuries this year and ha a disappointing season. But if you followed the program at all you would know he was doing a hell of a job.

  20. dcviking says: Dec 5, 2012 1:05 PM

    For every coach who moves up, a dozen get fired without notice. It’s just like when any employee leaves a job. You give two-weeks notice so the company has time to find a replacement. But if the boss wants to get rid of you, they escort you from the building and that’s that. Let’s stop pretending these guys signed their contracts in blood.

    ——————————————
    Right except when the coach is escorted from the building, he gets the rest of his contract (or at least a substantive portion) of it paid to him…so regardless if he succeeds (better job) or fails (gets fire with contract), he still gets paid.

  21. cubano76 says: Dec 5, 2012 1:25 PM

    When they say he’s from Miami, HE’S FROM MIAMI. He played HS football almost in the exact location where the FIU stadium was built. His HS is less than 5 miles down Coral Way from FIU. Played at The U. Oh, and he’s Cuban. The ONLY reason FIU is even on the football map, is because of Cristobal.

    Some school is about to get themselves a heck of a coach. (As long as he’s not diddling children, snorting adderall, “motorcycle” riding or betting on games of course).

  22. Deb says: Dec 5, 2012 1:36 PM

    @dcviking …

    True. The Average Joe or Jane just gets escorted out. No golden parachute.

  23. thefiesty1 says: Dec 5, 2012 1:39 PM

    Since Rutgers coach just left for BC maybe he can reapply for the job he turned down last year.

  24. ningenito78 says: Dec 5, 2012 1:48 PM

    Rutgers coach didn’t leave for BC. Temple’s did. But your point is a good one. Cristobal could work at Temple. Or Pitt if Chryst bolts for Madison.

  25. inconsonance says: Dec 5, 2012 3:17 PM

    If he was fired for interviewing with other schools or for having a bad season, their AD is straight up brain damaged. Coaching is all about moving up in the ranks, and Cristobal deserves to advance his career. He took FIU from being the football equivalent of Centralia, PA, to being a respectable team. That turned a lot of heads, and for good reason. This season was an anomaly, mainly because of injuries and player attrition (graduation, NFL). To hold that against him would be idiocy of the highest order.

    If he was raping babies, running a puppy mill, or something equally repulsive, then this was warranted. Otherwise, it was a horrible decision that FIU will regret very soon. Regardless, their AD needs cut loose, too. Hiring Isiah Thomas? Really?

  26. jgrudenstolemyhome says: Dec 5, 2012 3:18 PM

    Shoulda taken one of the job offers

  27. ajarkoski says: Dec 5, 2012 4:53 PM

    Deb and gang,

    Schools make a commitment to coaches and give them good salaries. Paul Cryst is at Pitt 1 year and bails on the school (if that indeed happens) would be wrong. You screw the players and the school right before the bowl games. That is terrible in my opinion. Schools do not have any leverage but to fire the punks, like this bonehead ex-coach of FIU, and send him packing! How does he like it now? Like I said, they use the current job to extort a high contract from the next school. He cannot do that now, can he? The NCAA should fine these guys for not finishing the season. The system lacks institutional control!

  28. Deb says: Dec 5, 2012 6:51 PM

    ajarkoski …

    This “punk” and “bonehead” was with FIU for six seasons. He made their program competitive. “They didn’t have any choice but to send him packing?” For what? As others have said, unless he committed some crime that hasn’t been made public, the guy didn’t do anything except put their program on the map. “How does he like it now?”

    Dude … that’s just crackers.

  29. inconsonance says: Dec 5, 2012 6:59 PM

    @ajarkoski – That “punk, bonehead ex-coach of FIU” has an obligation to his family to at least listen to job offers from other schools, as a bump in pay is never a bad thing, especially when the economy is still in the shitter. He also has an obligation to himself as a career man to investigate and/or pursue other opportunities, because staying at a school where he’ll be hamstrung by the athletic department, sub-optimal recruiting, and any one of a dozen other bad things about a job at a small, non-BCS school. I doubt very highly that he made a promise to be there forever and always, and it’s not like schools should assume that a coach will be. There are buyout clauses in contracts for a reason.

    You might think that firing coaches for interviewing for other jobs or having poor seasons is the only option the schools have, but firing them for reasons that do not constitute a legitimate “cause” (at least as defined in most contracts) is far more dishonest and shady than the reasons for firing the coach. Also, you act like Cristobal is just abandoning ship, leaving his players twisting in the wind before a bowl game, but that’s not the case. Cristobal had made no agreement to coach elsewhere, which invalidates your ignorant extortion accusation, and they had an abnormally poor season this year, and are not bowl eligible. With that in mind, the players are done for the season, coachless, and should blame their dipshit AD.

    The system may lack institutional control, but that does not apply here, and you lack the common sense to see the difference.

  30. ningenito78 says: Dec 5, 2012 8:05 PM

    @ajarkoski- I agree with the one point that it screws the players they recruited but, in all honesty, do these kids really believe this day and age there’s NO WAY the coach in their living room will NEVER leave? I highly doubt it. As for the coaches leveraging the schools for more money/better jobs- what person in what industry doesn’t do that? I don’t are if you’re a coach, banker, or landscaper. If another company offers more money, you listen. And you take every advantage of it.

  31. raysfan1 says: Dec 5, 2012 10:09 PM

    @ajarkoski–
    I dislike repeating myself, but since you think firing a coach over daring to interview at another school is a good idea (never mind that taking a head coaching job at a BCS school like USF would likely triple he income)… BC did that to Jeff Jagodzinski, and that worked out extremely well didn’t it? It’s almost a given that, like at BC, the next guy won’t be as good at FIU.

  32. thegamecocker says: Dec 5, 2012 10:24 PM

    Really, the numbers seem to make sense to me: 27-47! What’s all the fuss about? It is about winning sometime and not about how “well liked” someone is. He took this program as far as HE COULD TAKE IT! Maybe if he was smart enough, he would have concluded that last year. Or, maybe he’s just not that smart. My friends, loyalty left the game last century. Hate to be mean but it’s “what have you done for me lately” time for the Mario Brothers…..and 3-9 was not the correct answer. And DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT APPLYING TO RUTGERS FOR AN ASSISTANTS JOB! Hey Mario, get a push-cart and sell Cubano Sandwiches in Miami since you love it so much down there. Sincerely, your “friends” from Rutgers and Pitt!

  33. ningenito78 says: Dec 6, 2012 12:19 AM

    @thegamecocker- everything you said is true except this year really was an abberation. He had some major injuries and they underperformed. But he didn’t deserved to be fired off this season. He earned the chance to redeem himself. The record is skewed as the program was SO bad when he got there it took time to put together some winning seasons (like Schiano’s first few years at Rutgers).

  34. ningenito78 says: Dec 6, 2012 12:20 AM

    He isn’t coming back to Rutgers. That ship had sailed. No way Flood would have him seeing as how he landed the head job after Cristobal turned it down. If I had to bet I would think he would be pretty high on Temple’s list.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!