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Mario Cristobal Q & A Part 2

After going through more than one-hour plus of tape from the interview of your questions with MC, it looks like we're going to have to break this Q & A into 5 parts. So let's get going with No. 2. . . .

Mc_2 FIU Fanatic: How is the walk-on program coming along?

MC: It's going real, real good. I think it's one of the biggest advantages we have, because being that school is inexpensive here and a lot of the financial aid situations kids can get to come over here to FIU, truly, I expect our walk-on program to be the best in the country. You can literally come to FIU and have everything else paid for through some financial aid funds that you can achieve and you can earn yourself a scholarship here and you are doing it in South Florida, living in Miami in front of your family and friends. It's hard to picture a better situation. I think what we experienced in the spring with walk-ons and the ones that are coming on now lead us to believe that they are going to create interesting situations because a lot of these guys that are coming over are scholarship-type players. They are worthy of scholarships and other ones will develop into that which creates a great problem to have. We very actively recruit walk-ons.

GPP: About how many walk-ons showed up for the first time you had tryouts and how many you think are actually going to have a shot to stick?

MC: 77 showed up and we're keeping 12 and of those 12 just about all of them at the very minimum will contribute on special teams.

FI-UM Fan: Has it been a big challenge to change the culture of losing within the program or has the Rutgs_3 team been receptive and ready for change?

MC: I think after being at Rutgers and changing that culture, it definitely prepared myself for what to expect. It won't be as difficult to change the culture here, because it's real simple: it's all about demand and supply. This place [FIU] is on its way to being in real, real high demand. People want to come here and they want to build something real, real special. So it's real simple: either you're on board and you're killing yourself on a daily basis to get it done or we'll find a place for you to be nice and comfortable and we'll bring in somebody else that will do your job better.

FIUJM: With the departures of defensive leaders like Bouie, Barnes, Smith and Bostic, who do you think will be the leaders of the defense?

MC: Guys that have really stood out so far [linebacker] Scottie Bryant has done a real, real nice job. [Defensive back] Lionell Singleton has done a real, real nice job as well. Up front on the defensive line you got a bunch of guys that got a bunch of playing time and [defensive line] coach [Bernard] Clark has done an awesome job with those guys. He's got them ripping off the ball. They know he's a demanding guy: either you get it done or he's going to find somebody else to get it done. What you find out most about these guys is that playing time is the most important thing in the world for them and when that's at risk they'll come through and do what they gotta do.

Encyo FIUandMe: How has Pete Garcia enabled you to do your job effectively?

MC: He's a great mentor. He is a grinder and he's very demanding. Besides being someone I know, he holds you accountable which makes you understand, yes, we do know each other and there is a relationship, but the bottom line is he is the boss, he is the athletic director and I have to perform. Just because we have a prior relationship doesn't mean there is room for error, room to slack off. He knows that this is a very demanding job and for us to be successful you have to be on point: academically with your players, discipline with your players. He was with Butch Davis when they took over Miami. Miami was coming off probation so he's seen the pitfalls. He can warn you of those things. He can give you advice on recruiting. He can give you advice on dealing with high school coaches, with relationships across campus. He's been there and done it in difficult situations. He's like an encyclopedia of information on the how-to-be a head coach thing.

FIU Fan: Coach, do you feel you have the horses up front to be able to compete in the Sun Belt this year or are we still a year away?

MC: Any coach that walks into a season telling you that you are not going to compete --they shouldn't be coaching football anymore. Yes, we will compete this year!

Jonathan: Will you tryout any FIU soccer players for the kicking job?

MC: A couple have claimed that they want to come walk-on. We are more than welcome to see what they got. I was in NFL Europe when Darren Bennett (punting in Pro Bowl, picture right) who was an Dbpunt_2 Australian Rules Football player, was our punter. He was a guy that on his honeymoon in San Diego called the Chargers and said "I can punt the ball 100 yards, 'mate" and they said OK. So when he walked over to the Chargers facility and punted the ball 96 yards, well long story cut sideways, he became a 12-year NFL All-Pro except he used to tackle people. If we can find one of those guys that tackles people, well then, I want that guy!

FIU Fanatic: What aspects of FIU have you found a surprise?

MC: The first thing that surprised me was how nice it was. When I stepped foot on campus I was truly blown away. I grew up 7 miles from here and never did anything except go to the Youth Fair. What surprised me and I appreciate more than anything else is the committment to making this a big time, big time program. The president, the people on campus they understand that it's a major committment, but it's the only way to compete and get things done and they're willing to do it.


A Realisst: We have not forgotten your question. We will get to it soon. MC answered everyone's questions. There's more than 40 questions we have to get to, but all of them with their answers from MC will be posted on this blog.

Roman: Good to hear you've joined the GPP. So you're not the FIU baseball PA announcer anymore? I told you, you should have sang during the 7th inning stretch. You couldn't have been as bad as Ozzy at Ozzy Wrigley Field. Don't be a stranger to the GPP, keep posting.

Quijote: Yes, I was interviewed on the "Dos Amigos" show. You can hear the audio clip on "The Inconvenient Truth" blog which you can find in the GPP's May archives. Look for the photos of the steak and the baloney and just click on the clip when you get there.

Euro Eduardo "Eddie" Hondal: Welcome to the GPP! EEH is an FIU grad (1988 and 2000) and e-mailed me that he has been keeping tabs on the GPP during his European Vacation. EEH has followed the GPP in Rome, Ana Capri, Florence, Sicily and Barcelona.

gpantera: If you're adding FIU sports info, then feel free to write away on the blog. Good comparison of Wake and FIU. You do have a point FIU does have more going for it than Wake did before they won the ACC.

We'll have Part 3 of MC's Q & A soon. Have some Marlins duties this week, but Part 3 should be up soon. Headed to the Sun Belt football media days next week in New Orleans for 3 days. Look for an FIU cajun blog from New Orleans. MC and Lionell Singleton will be in the Big Easy as well.



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