Former Hurricanes speak on hiring of Mario Cristobal, future of Miami football

President Julio Frenk embraces head coach Mario Cristobal as he welcomes him to the stage in the Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility on Dec. 7, 2021.
President Julio Frenk embraces head coach Mario Cristobal as he welcomes him to the stage in the Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility on Dec. 7, 2021.

As a result of the more than $400 million generated from Miami’s UHealth system over the past two fiscal years, the university is willing to allocate revenue from other factions of the school into its athletics program.

This allotment of outside resources is a newfound concept for the Hurricanes, as under the leadership of former university President Donna Shalala, Miami had to self-fund its athletic program, most notably its football program, according to ESPN’s Andrea Adelson and 247Sports’s David Lake.

With the eradication of this funding approach, as well as the reported commitment from UM administration to increase its annual football budget by up to $30 million dollars, Miami has entered a realm of spending that it has never been a part of before.

The first indication of this expansion in Miami’s football budget was the hiring of Mario Cristobal to be its next football head coach. Cristobal received a 10-year, $80 million contract from the Hurricanes, which is much more lucrative than any other UM coach has received in the past.

“The only way you could compete is by having the resources,” former Hurricanes punter Brian Monroe said. “You look at the [programs] that have the biggest budget, they’re normally the top teams…if you don’t put in the resources, you’re not going to get the best [talent] to attend your school.”

The decline in talent acquisition at Miami has plagued its football program for the past two decades. Elite football programs like Alabama and Georgia have done an excellent job recruiting the talent-rich area of South Florida, which Miami did so successfully throughout their championship runs of the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.

Cristobal, a Miami native, has previous ties to local high school programs and coaches and is widely regarded as one of the top recruiters in the country, having been named the National Recruiter of the Year in 2015 while on Alabama’s coaching staff. His arrival is expected to bolster the Hurricanes’ ability to recruit well in South Florida once again.

“People got to understand he’s back [home],” former Hurricanes wide receiver Lance Leggett said. “He knows those areas. He knows it’s not about just going to Miami Northwestern and Miami Central; he knows how to [recruit] at all the other schools that may not be as good but have good athletes.”

Leggett has first-hand experience of being recruited by Cristobal, as the latter was an assistant on the Hurricanes’ coaching staff that brought Leggett to Miami.

“He does the small things,” Leggett said of Cristobal’s recruiting ability. “He’s going to do whatever; he didn’t have to come to my track practices. He’s going to go the extra mile.”

Cristobal has not only proven to be an elite recruiter but also a great coach; he did a remarkable job building Florida International’s football program up from nothing, along with restoring Oregon as a premier team in college football in his two previous head-coaching tenures.

Optimism is high in Coral Gables that his next head-coaching stint will be as successful as his first two.

“I would love to see the Miami Hurricanes win the Coastal and compete with Clemson,” Monroe said. “If you show me that you can compete with them, I’ll be happy because I feel like a lot of former players see [Miami] and they don’t compete. That’s the thing that’s more disheartening…you just want to see guys compete.”