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Back in mid-November, when the Oregon Ducks still had eyes set on a possible national title push, some very influential boosters around the University of Miami football program identified Mario Cristobal as their leading candidate to become that program’s next head coach.
The boosters reached out to Cristobal or his representatives to gauge his interest in perhaps returning to his hometown of Miami and the program he played for under both Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson.
Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal, left, and Oregon State head coach Jonathan Smith shake hands after an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, in Eugene, Ore.
(AP Photo/Andy Nelson)
Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal directs his players during the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game against Oregon State, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, in Eugene, Ore.
(AP Photo/Andy Nelson)
Cristobal was in Las Vegas Saturday and in Miami in the evening.
This wasn’t an easy call for Cristobal. The Oregon program is one of the premier ones in all of college football. He was still praying on his decision early Saturday.
Cristobal will replace Manny Diaz, who coached the Hurricanes since 2018. Diaz compiled a 21-15 record at the school but was unable to return the program to the heights it enjoyed for 20 years from the early 1980s to the early 2000s when it won five national championships and was perpetually among the best in the country.
Diaz had an 0-2 record in bowl games.
The coaching change comes at a pivotal time for the Hurricanes.
CORAL GABLES, FL – JANUARY 02: Head coach Manny Diaz of the Miami Hurricanes (L) poses for a photo with athletic director Blake James after the introductory press conference in the Mann Auditorium at the Schwartz Center on January 2, 2019 in Coral Gables, Florida.
(Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
With the University of Florida, FSU, USF and UCF all fighting difficult times for their programs, Miami is in strong position to improve its situation with Cristobal’s excellent reputation as a recruiter.
Cristobal will come to Miami with a 62-60 coaching record but at Oregon, where he’s been head coach since 2018, Cristobal was 35-13 with two PAC-12 titles. He was the PAC-12 coach of the year in 2019.
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