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Cristobal to be named FIU's next coach


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University of Miami offensive line coach Mario Cristobal is expected to become Florida International's head coach this morning.


Cristobal, 36, is expected to sign a contract, and FIU has scheduled a news conference this afternoon announcing the move, according to a source.


Cristobal, who would become the first Cuban-American head football coach in Division I-A history, would be the Golden Panthers' second head coach in their five-year history. Cristobal would take over for Don Strock, who resigned Nov. 15 after beginning the football program in 2001.


''If he gets hired, I can tell you the whole team is just happy,'' said junior offensive lineman Mike Alvarez, who was recruited by Cristobal for Rutgers in 2002 out of Hialeah-Miami Lakes High. ``We want to win, and he's all about winning. I got the chance to talk to him at a camp my sophomore year in high school, and he definitely knows what he's talking about. If he's our coach, he's going to get our ship sailing in the right direction.''


Asked about his status on the FIU head-coaching position at Hurricanes practice Monday, Cristobal said there was nothing new to comment on.


Cristobal is known for his recruiting prowess, having helped Rutgers coach Greg Schiano lure top South Florida talent to New Jersey during Cristobal's three years as a Scarlet Knights assistant coach.


At FIU, Cristobal inherits a team that was 0-12 in 2006. The Duke Blue Devils and the Golden Panthers were the only two teams to go winless this season.


Despite the winless season, FIU showed promise.


FIU lost five of its first six games by a total of 14 points. The defense was second in the nation in tackles for loss, fourth overall in pass defense and 28th in total defense.


FIU players have been hearing Cristobal's name as the next potential head coach for some time.


Promoted as UM's offensive line coach this season, Cristobal began his coaching career as a UM graduate assistant in 1998 and coached at UM until 2000. Cristobal became Rutgers' offensive line and tight ends coach from 2001-03 before returning to UM in 2004 as tight ends coach.


Cristobal played for UM from 1988 to 1992. As a senior, he earned All-Big East honors as an offensive tackle in 1992.




Congrats to Mario, I knew Pete Garcia would pick off someone from the UM Staff and since he couldn't get Randy he got the next best thing on the staff.....Good Luck rebuilding the program that Don Strock destroyed!!!!

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Here's the e-mail I got from him.

My name is Mario Cristobal and I am extremely excited about being named the new head football coach for the Florida International University Golden Panthers football team. I was born and raised in Miami and I know the expectations this city puts on its teams to win and I look forward to the challenge. I have coached at the University of Miami and Rutgers University and I know what it takes to succeed on the field, in the classroom, and in the community. Our football team will play with passion, discipline, and a relentless attitude, as we will strive to be one of the most competitive teams in Florida and the country. I accepted this job at FIU because I believe in the vision of the University and its Athletic Department. Under the leadership of President Modesto Maidique and Athletic Director Pete Garcia, it will not take long before the Golden Panthers become a force on the football field. Our new on-campus stadium will serve as a way to unite our student body, alumni, faculty, community and supporters at FIU for years to come. This is yet another step towards accomplishing our vision. I will be requiring my players to give the 110 percent effort and dedication that is needed to win on the field, in the classroom and in the community because that is The Right Way, The FIU Way! My commitment to FIU, our student-athletes, and to you, the Golden Panther family, is to mentor these fine young men on and off the field. We will be a team that is resilient, dedicated and accountable. We will be a team and a family that is united with one heartbeat. Our team needs your support, and I realize it is our great alumni base, community, and staff, that will help our team be a success on and off the field. Our team will need your help. By creating a home field advantage players will feed off of that extra energy in the stadium. As my first initiative as a Head Coach I am offering you to be a part of this historical moment in FIU history. If you commit to purchasing a season ticket for the 2008 season, in the new stadium, starting at only $100, we will give you the 2007 season absolutely free. I want to thank you in advance for your dedicated support and I look forward to personally meeting all of you during the coming years at our games and around campus. Happy Holidays Go Golden Panthers! Coach Mario Cristobal

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