CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Mario Cristobal stepped up to the podium Tuesday morning at the Hecht Athletic Center at the University of Miami and smiled, saying he was "honored and humbled" to become the next head coach of the Hurricanes.
"How 'bout them 'Canes?" Cristobal said to applause during his introductory news conference.
Cristobal is back at his alma mater, where he won a pair of national championships as a player under Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson and twice served as an assistant coach, first as a graduate assistant under Butch Davis and again as a position coach under Larry Coker.
Those were the glory days. Not anymore.
Now he's tasked with resurrecting a program that has gone two decades since winning the last of five national championships between 1983 and 2001.
Cristobal was hired away from Oregon, where he led the Ducks to a 35-13 record, two Pacific 12 Conference championships and three straight Pac-12 title game appearances.
He's bringing that championship pedigree back to Miami.
"I'm a small piece of a big operation that's going to invest every ounce of my existence to make sure that we get to the level that we need to get to," Cristobal said.
Cristobal preached mental preparation and re-establishing a culture rooted in winning.
"How you do anything is how you do everything," Cristobal said. "You want to be an elite player, you've got to be an elite student, right? You can't have one or the other. The U, this culture's not a T-shirt you put on when you want and you take off when you don't want to do it. It's an every time thing."
Cristobal takes over for Manny Diaz, who was fired just hours before Miami named his replacement.
Diaz was 21-15 through three seasons, including a 16-9 record in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and 0-2 in bowl games. The Hurricanes (7-5) won five of their last six games after a 2-4 start to the season, but it wasn't enough to save his job.
Miami won the ACC Coastal Division under Diaz's predecessor, Mark Richt, in 2017, but the Hurricanes couldn't replicate that feat under Diaz after Richt's abrupt retirement in December 2018.
"This program is going to work its tail off to play for championships," Cristobal said.
Cristobal thanked Oregon for giving him the opportunity to be successful there and said he never saw himself leaving, but the allure of returning home ultimately led him back to Miami.
Born and raised in Miami, Cristobal said most of his family still lives in South Florida, including his mother, who remains in a hospital.
Cristobal even had a chance to speak a little Spanish during his news conference, something he admitted didn't happen too often in Oregon.
Touting all that Miami has to offer, Cristobal said recruiting South Florida players will remain a focus for the Hurricanes.
"There's a reason the entire country comes here to try to get talent," he said. "OK, well, it's time to make sure the talent stays home."
Cristobal said he's ready to get to work. But, best of all, he's doing it where he belongs.
"Home is home, and this home is special," he said.