Mario Cristobal: 'We built the place from a hole in the ground'
Posted by: Josh Kendall on December 6, 2012
Mario Cristobal thought being out of work would mean some down time, but he was wrong.
After being surprisingly dismissed by Florida International on Wednesday, Cristobal has been deluged with people reaching out about jobs, he said Thursday morning on the Joe Rose Show on 560-AM in Miami.
"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."
Cristobal was 27-47 at FIU, which was 0-12 the year before he came to the school and hit with severe NCAA sanctions shortly thereafter. He took the Panthers to their first two bowl games in history in 2010 and 2011, but FIU fell to 3-9 this season.
Athletic director Pete Garcia referred to the 2012 season as a "total collapse" in announcing the firing.
"No one has ever used the words collapse to my face," Cristobal said.
Cristobal had no indication the decision was coming, he said.
"It's a blindside deal," he said. "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."
The meeting in which Cristobal was dismissed was short, he said.
"I can't get into any details of the meeting for contractual and HR reasons," he said. "Very, very disappointed and everybody is shocked and puzzled but not focusing on anybody else or any of the noise that surrounds it. I think everyone knows what we have done. Everyone is very well aware of what is right and what is wrong."
Cristobal rebuffed interest from other schools last year and instead signed an extension at FIU. He does not regret that now, he said.
"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."
Rose asked Cristobal if he thought his dismissal was made to make room for Butch Davis. He said he didn't know but suggested the job will draw plenty of interest and said the last two recruiting classes will give the new coach plenty of talent.
"We littered the place with tremendous, tremendous talent," he said. "We have built this into a place a lot of people would love to coach at."
Cristobal expressed his disappointment several times but stopped short of lambasting Garcia or the school
"It's very unjustifiable, but it is what it is and we are moving forward," he said.
Josh Kendall is a staff writer for CoachingSearch.com and has covered the SEC for more than 15 years for papers such as the Athens Banner-Herald, Macon Telegraph, and The State. He’s the father of two boys who he’s hoping don’t inherit his wide receiver frame and offensive guard feet. Follow @EyeOnCoaches on twitter and send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org