Cristobal leaves Oregon to become Miami’s coach

Field Level Media

December 06, 2021 at 7:24 pm.

Mario Cristobal officially is coming home to Miami.

Cristobal agreed to terms to become the 26th head coach of the Hurricanes’ football team on Monday, hours after the school announced the firing of Manny Diaz.

Miami did not announce terms of the deal for Cristobal, however multiple media reports had the sides agreeing to a 10-year deal worth $8 million per season. The deal also calls for significant investment in coaching and support staff and recruiting, per reports.

“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.”

Miami president Julio Frenk said the hiring of Cristobal is with an eye toward the future.

“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,” Frenk said. “Our selection, however, was not one based in nostalgia for a proud past, but rather in a bold vision for a promising future.

“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, reportedly met with Ducks players Monday morning to inform them he was leaving.

Cristobal completed his fourth full season at Oregon. He was 35-13 overall, including 10-3 this year following Friday night’s 38-10 loss to Utah in the Pac-12 title game in Las Vegas.

Cristobal previously coached at Florida International, also located in South Florida, from 2007-12, putting together a 27-47 record in six seasons. Overall, Cristobal is 62-60 as a head coach.

Last December, Cristobal signed a new six-year, $27.3 million deal with the Ducks through the 2025 season.

Oregon announced Monday that its search for a new coach is underway after being informed by Cristobal that he was leaving.

“We appreciate all of Mario’s accomplishments and hard work here at Oregon, and we wish him and his family all the best in their next chapter,” Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens said in a statement. “The University of Oregon is a prestigious academic institution with a football program that is well-positioned for continued success in the future, and the search is underway to find another excellent football coach to lead and support our student-athletes moving forward.”

ESPN reported earlier this week that Cristobal would have to pay Oregon a $9 million buyout if he exits for another school before Jan. 14. The Hurricanes also owe Diaz more than half of his $8 million buyout, an amount that could be offset if Diaz gets another coaching job, the Miami Herald reported.

Diaz, 47, guided Miami to a 7-5 record (5-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) this season and is 21-15 in three years at the helm.

“We are grateful to Coach Diaz for his many contributions to our campus community and to his native South Florida, and for the strong leadership and exemplary character he exhibited during his tenure at the University,” Frenk said in a statement. “We wish him and his family the very best as they move forward.”

Monday’s moves occurred while Miami searches for an athletic director after firing Blake James last month.

The Miami Herald also reported that Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich is headed to Miami unless the parties get “cold feet.”