Mario Cristobal will be entering just his second season with Miami football this fall, and to say that he has a lot to prove would be a vast understatement.
Last year, the Hurricanes saw inexcusably ugly losses all throughout their season en route to a 5-7 record, their worst since 2007. Said losses included 45-31 to Middle Tennessee, 45-21 to Duke, and 45-3 to Florida State — all at home.
A season that sorry would be an ungodly sight to any fan of any team, but especially when it is held next to the standard that has historically been expected of Miami’s football program, it becomes simply unacceptable. In fact, one could argue that it is sorry enough to have already thrown Cristobal’s job security into question.
Now let’s get one thing straight: I always have and always will endorse the idea of giving a new head coach some time to build his team in his image, it does not matter how proven he and/or the team in question is. These universities put a ton of thought and, more importantly, money into the contracts they give their coaches, so they — literally — can’t afford to throw them away the second they see a result they don’t want.
However, I could definitely see the Hurricanes ending up in a situation with Cristobal that another Florida school saw with another Oregon coach. I am, of course, referring to the Florida State-Willie Taggart disaster.
For those who do not remember, Taggart only ended up spending a season-and-a-half in Tallahassee. His first year with the Seminoles saw them finish with a losing record for the first time since 1976.
By the time he was fired in the middle of his second, 4-5 Florida State had already been scared to death by ULM, fallen to Wake Forest for the first time in eight years, and lost to Miami by 17 (which was then FSU’s biggest margin of defeat in the rivalry since 2001).
How does this story tie into Cristobal’s troubles?
All of this chaos colliding with fan outrage resulted in the university cutting ties with Taggart in spite of the financial commitment they had previously made to him; the concerns merely outgrew the price. If 2023 sees Cristobal have another season with the Hurricanes like 2022’s, is there any chance that the University of Miami would consider the same action? I think so.
Just look at the shameful performances I mentioned earlier. Miami’s home loss to Middle Tennessee was its first to a Group of Five opponent since 2010, its 24-point loss to Duke was the worst it’s ever suffered in their series, and its 42-point loss to Florida State was the second-worst it’s ever suffered in that series.
Those three showings alone were enough to chip away at the school’s — and, even more so, the fans’ — patience in the wait for change. So, imagine if this upcoming season results in just as little success.
If the Hurricanes endure another 5-7 stretch, they will have had back-to-back losing seasons for the first time in over 40 years (1976 and 1977). If Cristobal plunges the Canes into a rut seen that rarely, bedazzled with pathetic losses and furious fans, the topic of his subsequent firing would surely be on the table.
None of this is meant to imply that I endorse firing Cristobal after next season (assuming it’s bad). However, if things do get to that low of a point, it wouldn’t be the craziest path to a coach’s unemployment that I’ve seen.