FIU has fired head football coach Mario Cristobal after six seasons, two bowl games, and one of the quickest program turnarounds in college football history.
This time last year, Cristobal's name was attached to high-profile jobs, including Rutgers. But after the Panthers, who were expected to win the Sun Belt Conference in 2012, finished in second-to-last place in the conference with a 3-9 overall record, FIU athletic director Pete Garcia opted to fire Cristobal just five months after the coach signed a contract extension that was supposed to keep him at FIU through 2017.
“Today we informed Coach (Mario) Cristobal that a change was being made in the direction of our football program," Garcia said in a prepared statement. "I want to thank coach for all that he has done to develop the football program over the past six seasons. We will now turn our attention to attract the very best candidate to fill the position of head coach. We will begin a national search immediately.”
Cristobal was an offensive lineman on the 1989 and 1991 University of Miami national championship teams, and that cache in South Florida served him well at FIU. Cristobal accepted the Panthers head coaching job after the team posted a 0-12 season in 2006, and before the school had a weight room or a football stadium. In 2010 and 2011, the team went to back-to-back bowl games before slipping in 2012.
Cristobal ends his FIU career with a 27-47 record.
Copyright © 2012, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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