Mario Cristobal is the latest Nick Saban assistant to land a major head coaching job after time on the Alabama coach’s staff.
Cristobal, who recently was hired as Willie Taggart’s replacement at Oregon, spent 2013-16 as the Crimson Tide’s offensive line coach. During his time in Tuscaloosa, the former Florida International head coach said he was able to garner the knowledge necessary from to make a run at another major head coaching opportunity.
“[Saban] is the consummate professional,” Cristobal told the ESPNU Radio on SiriusXM crew on Sunday night. “He’s organized, detailed and just a wealth of knowledge. Whether it be in-season, off-season, regiment, structures, practice scheduling, recruiting or setting up a staff, there’s so many things that you learn during your time there. You get the chance to get your PhD in football. That’s what it is.”
Cristobal left the Crimson Tide after four seasons to take a co-offensive coordinator position with the Ducks, only to see himself promoted to the head coaching role after Taggart bolted for Florida State following his first season with the team.
This will not be Cristobal’s first run as a FBS head coach. The 47 year old had a six-year run as the head man at FIU, compiling a 27-47 record from 2007-12 as he inherited a winless team and tried to move the program forward as a new FBS entrant in the Sun Belt conference. The school, which now has Butch Davis as its head coach, has progressed to Conference USA due, in part, to the foundation he helped lay there.
Cristobal may have earned his “PhD” during his four seasons at Alabama, but he was quick to make sure that Saban didn’t get all of the credit for him being where he’s at now. Instead, he credited some guys he connected with prior to his run in Tuscaloosa.
“I’m honest when I say this, to me, the guy I model myself most after is my high school coach,” Cristobal revealed. “That guy is the reason that myself and the guys that I know got into coaching. But along the way, there’s no doubt, take a little bit of [Saban] and take a little bit of Jimmy Johnson. Let’s not forget about ol’ boy down in Miami back in the day and the things that we were able to accomplish down there.”
Cristobal played his college ball at Miami, where he was an offensive tackle from 1989-92.
You can listen to the ESPNU on SiriusXM clip from Cristobal here:
— ESPNU Radio on SiriusXM (@ESPNUonSiriusXM) December 11, 2017