I'm not necessarily known for popular choices and this may be another one of those times. But I have no interest in bringing in Mario Cristobal to Pitt to replace Todd Graham as head coach.
"What do you mean? He's the next big thing - a sure thing. Don't you know what everyone's been saying about him? He'd be great! Just ask somebody. Anybody."
Maybe, but I'm far from sold.
Let's start with the record. Okay, so Cristobal took a program from the doldrums of not only college football, but all of sports and turned them into a respectable squad. But while the program is much better than it was, Cristobal certainly isn't producing even Todd Graham-like seasons at Tulsa.
The program averaged about three wins in the five years before Cristobal's arrival. In the five years he's been there, they've averaged about five. Now, that's a bit misleading since his last two have been the most productive seasons, but winning eight games this year and seven last year? That's hardly a powerhouse - especially while playing in the Sun Belt conference. Cristobal isn't someone who's had ten-win seasons - he's had one eight-win season. For what he had to work with, that's good, but not great.
So okay, we know that Cristobal's had a short track record of any type of success, but let's break down this year - clearly his best one at FIU.
The team was 8-4, but for starters, failed to beat any of the top three teams in the conference - Arkansas State, Western Kentucky, and Louisiana-Lafayette. The highlight of the year? Beating Louisville on the road. Now, that's certainly an impressive win for a non BCS AQ team, but that's the thing we're pointing to? Not only this year, but in the five years he's been a head coach?
But it's not just the on-field records I question.Cristobal's also a Florida guy. He went to Miami, coached there, and other than a three-year stint at Rutgers about ten years ago, has been in the state his entire playing and coaching career. Bottom line - if you think he's a long-term solution at Pitt, that'd be the height of insanity.
Would he come to Pitt? Maybe. I've seen conflicting reports out there - he's reached out to the university, the university has reached out to him, he's interested, he's not interested - who really knows? And any chimpanzee not associated to the university or covering them regularly for a major media outlet almost assuredly does not.
The best case scenario out of all this is that he overachieves, gets Pitt to a couple of BCS bowls and moves on after 3-4 seasons. Does that look nice? Sure, but it does nothing to enhance the stability of the program. If you could guarantee me a few BCS appearances out of this, I'll take it.
But no one can and I'm not a strong believer that Cristobal's the guy to do it.
There's plenty to like about Cristobal, though, and it should be noted that if he does get the job, it wouldn't be the end of the world. He's had some success as a head coach and is known to be an excellent recruiter. Still, I'll pass - I think Pitt can do better..