Mario Cristobal is returning home…
The 51-year-old 51-year-old Cuban-American football coach has announced plans to leave the University of Oregon to become the University of Miami‘s head football coach.
“My family and I are excited to return home to the University of Miami, which has been so instrumental in shaping me as a person, player, and coach,” Cristobal said in a statement. “This program has an unparalleled tradition and an exciting future ahead of it. I can’t wait to compete for championships and help mold our student-athletes into leaders on and off the field who will make our University, our community, and our loyal fan base proud.”
Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens told reporters Monday that Miami never reached out to him to express interest in talking to Cristobal.
“The usual courtesy is to reach out to the institution, and that never happened,” he said.
However, he said he was well aware that Miami was interested in Cristobal.
“We understand that’s the alma mater, that’s home and all the elements that go into it,” he said.
Mullens said that he isn’t sure which assistant coaches will follow Cristobal to Miami. Once that becomes clear, Oregon will name an interim coach.
Cristobal informed Ducks players of his decision at a team meeting Monday in Eugene. Just before the Oregon meeting, Miami announced the firing of coach Manny Diaz and a forthcoming hire of Diaz’s replacement.
Cristobal is a Miami native, was a Hurricanes offensive lineman for two national championship teams, and a Miami assistant from 2004 to 2006.
Miami has aggressively pursued Cristobal for several weeks to replace Diaz, and it ramped up its efforts late last week. Oregon presented Cristobal with an enhanced contract offer to remain, which the coach acknowledged after Friday night’s loss to Utah in the Pac-12 championship game in Las Vegas. But Cristobal did not immediately accept Oregon’s offer, which The Oregonian reported was then withdrawn.
“Mario’s legacy as a student-athlete at the U is well established. And the standard for competitive excellence that he and his teammates helped establish is one to which we continue to aspire. Our selection, however, was not one based in nostalgia for a proud past, but rather in a bold vision for a promising future,” Miami president Julio Frenk said in the statement.
“The characteristics that helped Mario excel as a national championship-winning player — drive, determination, and discipline — continue to propel his success as a coach. In Mario we have found a head coach who shares our belief in providing student-athletes with the very best opportunities to succeed on and off the field, and our commitment to winning at the highest level.”
Cristobal, 51, went 35-13 at Oregon with two Pac-12 championships, a Rose Bowl win two years ago and three Pac-12 North titles. He joined the Ducks staff in 2017 as co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, then was promoted to head coach when Willie Taggart departed for Florida State. Cristobal served as Florida International‘s coach from 2007 to 2012, going 27-47 overall.