Mario Cristobal spent six seasons building the Florida International program not from the ground up, but, in his own words, from a hole in the ground.
“You have to think of it from my perspective. Five years ago, this was a job nobody wanted. We built the place now and not from ground zero, from a hole in the ground. I can’t account for or comment on what other people say. I know that no one wanted to touch this thing, and now it’s one of the better jobs in the country for a smaller Division I college. You can’t be anything but proud of that. Very puzzling.”
What he found puzzling is the fact that he was fired after a 3-9 2012 football season. Generally, such a season would, indeed, be grounds for a firing. However, after he inherited an 0-12 team that had been hammered with NCAA sanctions the year prior to his arrival, Cristobal led the Golden Panthers to the first two bowl appearances in the history of the program.
Further, he turned down several open coaching positions when he was offered them following last season in a show of loyalty to the school that made him the first Cuban-American head coach in D-I history.
“I’ve watched the moves of coaches,” he said. “Guys take shots here and there, sometimes for the money, sometimes for the label. I based all of our decisions as a family on what I think is right.”
The athletic department at FIU did not show Cristobal the same loyalty, firing him after a down year despite the unprecedented success and a solid incoming recruiting class.
Thus, Cristobal has been forced to look around for more work. Rather, Cristobal has been forced to weigh several options against one another following a flurry of offers from schools that understand how valuable he can be as a head coach.
“It’s actually been a little bit overwhelming,” Cristobal said. “It’s very humbling the amount of opportunities that are on the table at the moment, some at the pro level.”
While he alluded to joining the professional ranks, he has not at all dismissed coaching at the collegiate level.
In fact, several sources are now reporting that Cristobal has, in fact, interviewed for the Temple position vacated by Steve Addazio, who skipped out of Philly for the nearby Boston College job.
Cristobal spoke with the Temple athletic department on Saturday night.
He was not the only man to interview for the job, however. Ohio State running backs coach Stan Drayton was interviewed on Sunday, and several other options remain in the hunt.
New York Giants assistant Matt Rhule and current Owls defensive coordinator Chuck Heater have also been interviewed.
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