What to Worry About
Not being happy living in Pittsburgh and using it as a steppingstone: This is a ludicrous reason to list normally but then came along Todd Graham and the bar for common sense was forever lowered. Yes, Mario Cristobal is a south Florida native and spent all but two years of his college football career in the state, and, yes, his wife is also from south Florida and is very immersed in that community, but the Cristobals aren't going to be able to go straight from Florida International to his alma mater, Miami, because Al Golden has only been there for one season and there is no signs that he's going to be leaving anytime soon. I know the typical Pitt fan gloom is that Golden will go to Penn State and then Cristobal will then take his place at Miami, but that's ridiculous. Golden does not want to go to Penn State and nobody else with any kind of options does either. And even if he did, Miami, being a major Florida program, will aim higher than Cristobal.
And that brings us to how long Cristobal would stay at Pitt. Here are the facts. One, Graham was a coward and lacked ethics or morals, and Cristobal is not Graham. Two, Cristobal will not be the head coach at Miami any time soon. Three, staying at FIU will not help him get the job at Miami down the road. Miami has high aspirations and many people would want that job because of the recruiting area. Miami alum or not, they are not going to give him the keys to that program when all of his head coaching experience came at a low-major program. And before you ask, yes, Pitt will give the keys to such a coach because they aren't Miami.
Bottom line, it's either stay at FIU or go to a potentially excellent job in an ACC school and make three or four times more money. And with his strong ethics, the fact that the Miami job is not opening soon, and the fact that Pitt could be a great steppingstone for him to eventually get back to Miami, Cristobal has every reason to take, and succeed, at Pitt. And if he turns around Pitt in four years, and leaves for a better job, then you take a member of his staff and continue it hopefully. Oregon has done that three times already and Pitt did it with Jamie Dixon and Jackie Sherrill.
What Not to Worry About
Recruiting: Todd Graham was from Texas and was on pace for a top 20 recruiting class, and Cristobal is a much better recruiter. Local gems like Demetrious Cox, J.P. Holtz, and Deaysean Rippy would be three players that Cristobal could sway immediately, and two players, defensive tackle Ryan Watson, and juco receiver Marquez Clark, are two other elite prospects that were on the verge of committing to the Panthers, and who Cristobal could jump on immediately.
If Walt Harris and Dave Wannstedt could sway such Florida stars as Antonio Bryant, Greg Romeus, Gus Mustakas, H.B. Blades, and Jabaal Sheard, imagine what Cristobal could do there. If he could land just five or so excellent Florida players a year to go along with mostly local recruiting, the team could be very, very talented. As for that local recruiting, WPIAL kids couldn't care less whether his head coach comes from Pittsburgh or Florida. They just want to win and they will see Cristobal as a winner, especially when they learn he won two national championships as a player.
Coaching staff: Cristobal's defensive coordinator at FIU is Todd Orlando who was excellent at UConn for years before taking over at FIU this season, where he again did an excellent job. And he's also from Pittsburgh. He would be the best addition. And if he doesn't come, or if Steve Pederson and Cristobal feels the staff has to be even stronger, they will find the right people. I firmly believe with any head coach that Pitt would hire, they would not have trouble fielding a great staff.
Style: Cristobal will run a spread offense that will require a lot of speed from the skill players, but unlike Graham's offense, it's not nearly as (overly) complex, and it doesn't require as much running from the quarterback. To be honest, I think Chad Voytik would actually be better in this offense than he was in Graham's, and dare I say that Tino Sunseri would also be better in this offense.
On defense, Orlando runs a 4-3 with a lot of blitzing and penetration. Just like with Cristobal's offensive scheme, the system is exciting for the fans, the players, and the prospects. It also helps Pitt put less emphasis on linebackers, their biggest weakness. A potential front line of Aaron Donald, Khaynin Mosely-Smith, Tyrone Ezell, and Bryan Murphy from end to end, to go with outside linebackers Ejuan Price and Todd Thomas, and middle linebacker LaQuentin Smith, sounds pretty good to me.
Character: Because he's a young, charismatic coach who, God forbid, has never lived or coached in Pittsburgh, people will accuse him of being another Todd Graham. The truth is very much the opposite. While there were always rumblings of Graham being sleazy, Cristobal has nothing of the sort. In fact, people who've dealt with him have always said he's classy and the total antithesis of Graham.