Miami Will Reportedly Hire Away Oregon Coach Mario Cristobal (Despite Not Firing Manny Diaz Yet)

The University of Miami doesn’t have an official coaching vacancy at the moment, as Manny Diaz remains at the helm of the Hurricanes for now, but for the last week there has been considerable buzz growing that they were hot in pursuit of Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal to take over the program.

This all was happening as Cristobal’s Ducks were getting ready for a Pac-12 title game in which they got destroyed for a second time by the Utah Utes, and it was hard to see how Cristobal’s shaky future in Oregon wasn’t at least a bit of a factor in a lackluster effort from Oregon. After the Pac-12 title game, Cristobal was still on the recruiting trail for the Ducks, but as we learned with Brian Kelly, that means little in terms of assuring fans of a coach staying.

On Sunday morning, Mike Ryan of The Dan LeBatard Show reported a deal was indeed done to bring Cristobal back home to Miami — he played for the Hurricanes from 1989-92 and got his first head coaching job down the road at FIU. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald confirmed the report, bringing word that the deal would be for $8 million a year and north of five years, with Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich taking over the athletic department.

However, Dennis Dodd of CBS reports a deal isn’t done yet, as Cristobal has a large extension offer from Oregon on the table he is mulling as well.

If Cristobal does indeed go to Miami, this would be the third huge poaching move in college football this season (after Lincoln Riley left for USC and Brian Kelly bounced to LSU), and a rather fascinating one. Cristobal has gone 35-13 in his four seasons with the Ducks, peaking with a 12-2 season and a Rose Bowl win in 2019, but hasn’t been able to get over the hump in terms of bringing the Ducks back into the Playoff discussion. To leave Oregon, a program with nearly unlimited resources, for Miami, one that has not always been willing or able to spend like the top programs, is quite interesting, and Jackson reports Cristobal has been given assurances that will change with a new regime.

There is no doubt that Cristobal will be a better recruiter than what Miami has had in recent years, as that has long been his best quality, both as a head coach and an assistant. That’s critical for a program that has not been able to lock up the top players in the area, but getting the most out of that talent is the question for a Cristobal team and will determine just how successful he can be with the Hurricanes.

As for Oregon, the word seems to be that they’ll start their search by trying to pull an old friend and current rival back to Eugene in the form of UCLA head coach Chip Kelly.

If they can’t nab Kelly, their search becomes rather fascinating because, as mentioned, the Ducks have as unique an athletics budget as any program in the country thanks to their connection to Nike and Phil Knight, and it wouldn’t be hard for a lot of coaches to see themselves as the guy who could bring the Ducks back into the Playoff picture.