Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cristobal: What to worry about and what not to worry about

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.


  1. Hope ur right Chris. If I did not just go through the Graham era, I would be excited, it is hard though to be kicked while ur down and it feels like we are getting kicked. I would love some good news, and more than anything for someone to be honest. For a coach to come in and say, we are going to be here at least 4 years and if Pitsburgh likes us and we like Pittsburgh maybe alot longer, but be truthfule to a point. Just a little truthful. Maybe 25% of Jamie Dixon, and Dixon is not a great public speaker, but he does lead by example.

  2. Reports now that Jamie Dixon has reached out to Bo Ryan and received a glowing recommendation for Chryst. I just have this fear that Pitt is going to pick Chryst for all of the wrong reasons. I'm not saying he can't or won't be a good coach, but rather, that Pitt is making a decision based on irrational fear of rejection rather than logic and reason.

    If they offer the job to Chryst tomorrow, they will have lost 3-4 days where he could have been shoring up the recruiting class. I also think we have now entered a dead period where coaches are not allowed to contact recruits. No new information since Saturday, when Chryst interviewed. No reason for this to be debated internally still.

  3. If Cristobal comes to Pitt and beats Miami more often than not in the ACC, that would do wonders in raising his status for the Miami job.

    If Pitt does hire Cristobal then I would find myself in the awkward position of rooting for Miami to win most of their games....especially NC games so Golden doesn't get the boot.

    Again, I worry that Cristobal will get the Pitt hire and lose his DC to FIU a few days know, when it's too late. A young guy like that is not going to have the draw to get top assistants IMO. Much like Todd Graham couldn't either.

    The only thing that will get Golden out of Miami is if he lays an egg down there, and Miami will not tolerate that for long.

  4. Am I wrong but didn't Miami do what you claim they would not and actually hire a coach similar to Cristobal with a lot of sizzle from low-tier mid-major (kicked out of Big East) Temple in Al Golden? Neverthless, almost everything you speak of about Cristobal accomplishing at Pitt is conjecture and is always placed in context of him being somehat limited in his accomplishments because he is at low mid-major program that is barely D1 and can't compete even with MAC team (your words not mine). Why does Pitt need coach with such context? I could care less about Cristobal leaving after 4 years nor do I judge his character. I'll leave that to you. No reason Pitt needs to accept candidate where the sole focus and future of program lies in hope that he lives up to his over-hyped upside developed at such a very small program. Again, in your own words, it is upside generated at a program that is barely D1. Everything this guy accomplished needs to be put in perspective of conference, competition and fact that there are 35 bowl games. I am not denying that Cristobal is good coach for FIU but he needs a couple of more years if not stop in MAC. Why does Pitt need to take that risk as there are as good if not better candidates? Cristobal is now coach du jour that provides sizzle for all those that want to sound cutting edge. Also, we are hiring Cristobal not Orlando so tying the two together does not validate his candidacy as HC. Either Cristobal is guy on his own or hire someone else. Cristobal is not as accomplished when compared to other coaches that are easily attainable for Pitt. Chryst should be the pick based on Pitt's short list. How is Cristobal any different than countless other coaches that have shown ability to generate modest success at small programs? Gattuso and his performance at Duquesne would be equal if you use your words.

  5. Chris - If there were rumblings of Graham being sleazy, why didnt you report them?

  6. Golden was much further along in his career than Cristobal. Not only is Temple a step up from FIU, but Golden was also a coach longer and was a defensive coordinator at a major program for five years.

  7. I'm talking about the sleaziness of Graham that we all saw with our own eyes. Personally, I despise all of the secret sleaze that everybody is coming out with now. Why the hell didn't people say all of that before?

  8. Chris,

    You commented about any potentialhire:
    "I firmly believe with any head coach that Pitt would hire, they would not have trouble fielding a great staff."
    Do you mean from a financial standpoint? How does Pitt's payroll for assistants compare to other schools in BE and ACC?

  9. They used to be cheap but they've stepped it up recently. Coordinators like Phil Bennett, Calvin Magee, and Curt Cignetti don't come cheap.

  10. anonymous (who wants chryst hired) what do you mean by they couldn't compete with a MAC team? they hung with Marshall for 90% of the game last night. it wasn't like marshall clubbed them by 45 points. thought it was a pretty good showing from FIU honestly. not sure how if you go by what pitt is looking for that you think chryst is the better of the candidates. the biggest thing they seem to be looking at is head coaching experience, cristobal has it and chryst doesn't. cristobal has already turned a program around, chryst hasn't. also you saying that everything is conjecture when speaking of what cristobal can do at pitt isn't it the same with chryst? its all conjecture as to what any candidate will do here if given the job. just my 2 cents but with cristobal you at least know the whole package as to what you are going to get because he is a head coach and has turned a program around. with chryst or even fickell you don't really know all of what your getting because they have never yet been a head coach to this point. mario has already done what you want him to accomplish here albeit on a smaller scale with a smaller school. no matter who they choose i hope they do it soon so they don't start losing recruits.

  11. Marshall is not in the MAC people... Perhaps you don't know as much as you think you know ...

  12. Nitwits, the reference to "not competing with MAC team" were words spoken by Dokish on prior blog comment from yesterday and not Marshall. are literally too dumb to even address anymore. Get off the free computer at public library and go home. Also, please take off your high school football jersey as those days are over.

  13. i see mr. anonymous is the resident internet tough guy here. if you have anything intelligent to say i would fall over. nowhere did i say marshall was a MAC team. seems your comprehension skills did not get any better what so ever. maybe Santa will bring you some comprehension skills and sports knowledge for dummies books. FIU hung tough with Marshall and Marshall is arguably better than most if not all of the MAC teams. anonymous you should try at least to make some valid points once in a while here. you must be into cooking because all you seem to do here is stir the pot. maybe you are just mad because you have to be in the house before the street lights come on or you are realizing that you can't actually add anything to any of the conversations that go on here and they are way over your head. you read a lot of things from sports sites and basically rehash it here which is just fine if you admit it. i read a lot too and have recognized a lot of what you say is directly off of other sports sites and blogs. try to at least change the wording a bit for crying out loud. seriously slappy maybe try having an original thought once in a while instead of stealing others and claiming it as your own.