Mario Cristobal was back in green and orange Friday, eager to begin the next phase of his college football life — despite no longer being a head coach.
“You see the overhaul of the roster and how it’s shaping up to be,” he said.
“With three weeks to go in recruiting, it’s about attack mode. Wherever I need to go, wherever I need to be sent, whatever I need to accomplish, anything involving 2014 or ’15, it’s ‘Go!’ There’s no time to rest. … We’re rolling.”
Cristobal, 42, Miami’s new tight ends coach and associate head coach after being fired by FIU, indicated there was no awkwardness at shifting roles with his current staff.
He said other than having “less gray hair” back in the day, he “was the same person as a UM [graduate assistant]” as he is now.
“I was the same person as an assistant coach, as a head coach. I don’t think that changes,” he said. “I think you are what you are when you wake up in the morning and when you go to bed at night. I don’t think it changes. If it does you were probably raised the wrong way.
“I’m ready to accept and excel at each and every role I’m assigned to so that we can do whatever possible to make sure we flat out win at everything we do — football, classroom, community, everything.”
Actually, he sounded a lot like head coach Al Golden: enthusiastic, aggressive, demanding and professing the development of the whole person, not just the athlete.
“It’s a legitimate regimen and a program that’s built to win championships,” said the former Hurricanes offensive tackle, lauding Golden’s intensity and attention to detail and planning.
“And in every facet, not just football. When development on the human side goes hand-in-hand with what you’re trying to accomplish athletically, that is when you build yourself a locker room full of winners.
“… It’s doing things the right way. A true care factor, which goes extremely far when you’re a teacher. Just knowing what he’s about and what he wants for this program, those things align pretty well. He’s an intense, relentless worker with a vision.”
Golden was at the Hecht Athletic Center during Cristobal’s news conference but did not attend. Earlier in the day, he told WQAM radio host Joe Rose that he and Cristobal were “kindred spirits.”
“We both took over programs that were just absolutely abysmal and turned them around, so we had a mutual respect from the outside,” Golden said. “And the day I heard he got let go, I called him, and he picked up at 9 [a.m.]. I was sitting outside a high school in New Jersey. … I couldn’t believe it. So that was the initial call, and I didn’t know what direction he wanted to go with his career. But when I knew he wanted to be part of [UM] and, obviously, the love that he has for this place and the passion he’s going to bring — I just think we improved our football program and coaching staff.”
When asked to explain the “associate head coach” designation, Golden told WQAM that offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch would still oversee the offense and make the calls.
Golden said Cristobal “is somebody I can count on to help me with ancillary head coaching things and see the big picture a little bit better.
“Clearly his expertise as an O-line coach, a tight ends coach, a guy that has coached many positions and obviously has cultivated talent and recruited in this area, it was just too good a package for us to pass up.”
Cristobal called it “a tremendous honor to be back.
“Everybody knows how I feel about the University of Miami,” he said. “When I was a player here it was ingrained, embedded in your mind about being relentless about everything you do. Joining a staff that is committed in the exact same way is an incredible feeling.”