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Mario Cristobal Q & A Part 3

NEW ORLEANS -- Good afternoon y'all as they say in these neck of the woods here in New Orleans, La. In town for the Sun Belt football media days which begin Monday.

First time in New Orleans and as the pretty New Orleans bartender, Ashley, who took care of me at lunch today and looks a little bit like Scarlett Johansson, would say "Pete, it's your first rodeo here". Scarlett_3 Nice way to start the trip.

Anyways, MC and Lionell Singleton, who is representing FIU, are both here for the events and I'll be writing a story on Lionell in Tuesday's Miami Herald, so check it out and will be talking some more to MC. For now let's get to MC's Q & A Part 3. . . .

FIUBlue82: How is our offense responding to the change from the old pro-style to a newer more spread format?

Mc_2  MC: I think kids like creativity. They like flexibility, because if we can't move the ball with a two-back set, pro-set then we might have to open up things a little bit just to get guys out of the way. If the quarterback has to drop back and run 14 times, because he can't find a receiver and he's making it work and those stats are ugly as can be, but it means a win, then so be it. I think our players fully understand that we are a whatever-it-takes kind of team while at the same time having a base. There is a certain time of the game where you need a play where you got to get that extra yard. What is our attitude play? What is our staple? The players know what we have.

A Realisst: If and when you endure success and other top programs or the NFL comes calling, do you think about making a move or do you see yourself at FIU for many years to come?

MC: No one in the world should ever take a football job and think about jumping anywhere else and that's how I have approached this job. [Oklahoma coach] Bob Stoops spoke to us when I was a graduate assistant at Miami and he said when you are taking on a job you approach that job like that's the last job you are ever going to take and you better make that the very best place in the world. You got to Bc realize when I saw coach [Bernard] Clark up there in New Jersey and I was still working at Miami and he was working at South Florida, I asked him: "What is there at FIU?" and one conversation with him had me convinced. Again, I didn't know much about FIU. I knew it was down the street, but I had never been on campus, but I was certainly excited as I can be about the possible opportunity I had gotten. I had not been offered the job yet. But my conversation with coach Clark, he painted such a clear picture of what [FIU] can, should and will be. We really want to make this one of the premier programs in the country. I, myself, owe this community that and much, much more. That is my promise. That is my committment to making this thing happen.

staugpanther: Do you see this year's linebacking unit as having enough talent and/or depth to hold up under a demanding schedule and be the playmakers that last year's crew turned out to be?

MC: We definitely need more depth. We are thin at linebacker. We did get a late start on recruiting and we tried to get a couple of more guys. A couple of guys are walking-on that are real good football players that have a chance to earn scholarships here. We're going to have to find out in camp. In the spring, we were definitely thin.

FIU Fanatic: Give us a timeline of future expected success at FIU...in terms of wins and losses and type of recruits being lured our way and bowl game participation, etc.

MC: Just hard to say, because we haven't played a single game yet. Judging from where we've been at Rutgers and what we're doing here, I expect us to do it faster than we did at Rutgers. Rutgers took 5 years.

FIU Fanatic: Are we going to be fully-funded scholarship-wise to give out the full 85 once the APR thing is over?

MC: Yes. The APR is what it is. It's something we inherited, but we've invested a ton of money in academics. Our coaching staff is all about being very strict on academics. In fact, we should have 100 percent retention 2 years in a row which means that we have a great chance of having 90 to 100 percent graduation rate in our first full cycle.

Cheat_2  Prediction: Coach, under Don Strock, the opponents knew FIU's game. How much of a benefit will you have with opponents not knowing your strategy?

MC: I think football is football and I don't think anyone is going to reinvent the wheel over the next 20 years. When you go up against an opponent that has a brand new staff you view film of their former employer. They'll look at the places that we worked at. At the same time you go into a place you might be thinking opponents are doing one thing, but they're going to completely change, because they have another opponent they've been practicing things for. I think it's give and take.

FIUandMe: How do you plan to get the community more involved with our program, particularly alumni?

MC: We're going to be as visible as possible. Every day we try to be out there. Whether we're speaking at some type of engagement or event. Whether our players are out there reading on national signing day or giving FCAT pep rallies, events that we are going to be holding throughout the summer. Just putting it out there, that please, FIU alum come on! Come out forward and express that you really want to support this thing and make this thing go, because the bottom line is this: just like any great football program across the country, one of the most important things that you need to have is an alumni group that is ready to come out and support it at all costs. They truly make or break it. They're the ones that fill up the stadium. They're the ones that push and create the energy that surrounds the program. You got a group of young men that are willing to live and die with this thing to make everyone proud. Let's face it 1 out of every 2 college graduates in Dade County is an FIU grad. That is a fact. That's a lot of people. Let's round up. Let's support this thing. Let's make this thing explode. We don't want an average deal, cool little, nice event. A nice little place you go down and enjoy the weekend. No, we want to create something special, explosive. Something when the weekend comes around you want to cancel everything else to come down here and check out a day.

FI-UM Fan: What are some of the things you have done to stress discipline within the team?

MC: There are consequences for any miscue. For example, during the summer you are not allowed to run [players] if they mess up in school, but what you can do is you can have study hall from 11 at night to 1 in the morning on a Friday or Saturday night which kind of puts a dent in their social calendar.Breakfast During the season anything involving lateness, for mistakes on the field in practice as long as they are mistakes that have to do with not giving full effort -- you're better off going to hell. Players understand what's going on. They really are not testing the waters, for a couple of reasons: they know the consequences that come with it. I think we're now at that transition point where it's not about the consequences enough anymore, it's about getting better. Once a team makes that decision that it's about getting better, instead of the fear factor, now you're starting to become a ballclub.


CJ: There are only 2 freshman QBs (Colt Anderson and Darold Hughes) since Bryan Mann will not be eligible for this season. All 4 (including Wayne Younger and Paul McCall) will have a shot to earn the starting job.

FIU Fan: Your question has been answered and will be posted on the next Q & A. When I came up with the Q & A idea I said all questions would be asked of MC and graciously enough MC answered them all. I appreciate the job advice you gave me on the last blog, but I'll take it from here.

Willis alt7787: Yes, I have been covering the Marlins lately. Lionell is the FIU rep here, last year it was Keyonvis Bouie. As far as Dontrelle Willis, I think he's pitching hurt, but won't fess up. And the Marlins won't say anything, because it would ruin Dontrelle's trade value before the July 31 trade deadline.

FI-UM Fan: MC is in the process of finalizing the fall practice schedule, but I'm sure there will be some practices open to the public before they go into Penn State prep mode. The first fall practice is Monday, August 6.

FIU Fanatic: I've been told Wendy Napoleon is done playing football, because of the concussions he suffered last season.

FIU-CALI 99 & FIU-GO-PAWZz: Welcome both to the Prowl ! Keep on posting.

A Realisst: I called Turtle on Friday and still have not heard back from him. Word I'm getting is BCC's Felipe Suarez is expected to be the FIU pitching coach. Although TT has not confirmed it yet. Reading into Jim Morris' comment on um-FIU series, I don't expect Jimbo will want to play TT, because of the curdled milk between the two.

NY Josh: Thanks for the props on the blog. It's OK if you want to jump on the FIU bandwagon while there's still room.

Crazy Cane: Coker didn't have to talk in 2001, because he was winning with Butch Davis's players. Jim Morris did the same with TT's recruits. How many NCs did Coker and Morris win when they had to recruit their own players. Alex, I'll take Easy Answers for $800.....What is zero?Jeopardy

We got 16 more questions to go with MC. I'll have a Shrimp Po' Boy sandwich before then and finish my "first rodeo" in the Bayou.


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Great job as usual, Pete. I am sure you have chosen some more questions that are just as important to finish out the series. We are all excited about the changes that Coach Cristobal and crew have brought to us, and we can't wait to see all this enthusiasm transferred to the field of play.


Great job.

Please tell MC that the folks on this blog deeply appreciate his taking the time to anwser our questions.

Like everything in athletics, only winning cures all, but short of winning, he's made all the right moves thus far. If he can only add a few w's, we may name something on campus after him.


class of '98
grad student class of '09





Gimme a break PP - the fact that you word endorse such an assinine point of view seriously puts into questions the integrity of your writing and puts into your question your entire argument that "coaching matter." By stating that Coker and Morris won with others recruits, you prove my previous point that coaching doesn't matter and that you win if you have the best players. Now, if you would to stand by your previous arguments that coaching does matter, then it shouldn't matter who recruited who, Cokewr and Morris were the coaches of their respective Nat'l Championship teams. You see PP, you are speaking out of both sides of your mouth. You cannot have your cake and eat it to. Sounds like you are making atypical FIUer argument - a nonsensical one. You are better then that.


Do all of us a favor and please pretend that you did not see that last post.

Great job with all the questions. I'm wondering if MC is expecting to get production right away from Booker, Pellicier and Wiggins - their size looks awesome....

See you at Happy Valley !!!

FIUB&G - what was wrong with CrazyCanes post? I think he makes a valid point. You don't see how PP is arguing both sides of the equation? Do you not follow CC's logic? Do you need the argument broken down more so you can follow along? Here, on one hand you have PP saying that coaching matters and that coaching plays a vital role in the success of an athletic team. I disagree, bu that this the point that PP has made on this blog in the past. Now, PP is saying that the coaches who won Nat'l Championships (Coker and Morris) should not get credit b/c they won with someone elses players. This means that coaching doesn't matter, and whoever has the best players (hence recruits the best players) is goping to win regardless of whop the coach is. That I agee with. You see FIUB&G, an intelligent person can follow a simple argument like this and respond with a counterargument. Unintelligent people get flustered when faced with an argument for which they have lost but don't want to admit and say things like, "Do all of us a favor and please pretend that you did not see that last post." Which one are you? Why don't we all just give you a second chance, forget YOUR last post, and you can try again to make a viable counterargument. Good Luck, I am pulling for ya.

24/7 and crazy cane ill give you the bennifit that the argument of coaching versus best player has swayed both ways. ill agree that there are aspects of both and that you have to have a balance of good players and good coaching. its a give and take. but at least in regaurds to coker, the year he won that championship, although he might have done some coaching it was more player than coach. ala ed reed. i still think a better coached team will beat out a team w/ better players.

U24/7 and Crazy Cane, of course you stick together and of course coaching matters. Yes, the best talent will usually win out But, you can't compare the two totally different situations that MC, and Coker and Morris went into. Coker and Morris stepped into an established progam where MC is stepping into a program that was obviously not very good. When a coach steps into an established program where he inherits some pretty damned good players that were recruited by somebody else, his main duty is to not screw them up. He and Morris have my respect for what they have done at the U. MC on the other hand will have to be very persistent if this is going to work out. Will it be overnight? Of course not. But 4 or 5 years from now, there is no reson FIU should not be at least top 25 in both football and baseball. I know this is about football but I'm a baseball guy so I have to throw that in. So UCG fans, keep reading, writing, and wondering how many years you have left before you start losing to FIU. The recruiting wars should be awesome, but hey, isnt the competition what your here for? Oh yeah, who is Felipe Suarez?

FIU-CALI - though I agree with to an extent (w/ Coker stepping into an established program) Morris came to the Canes in 1994 and won 2 Nat'l Championships (99 and 01) Now PP's blog has made it seem as though that was Morris winning with Turtle's players - give me a break. To not give Morris the credit for the 2 Nat'l titles is rediculous. PP saying the JM won w/ TT's players is an insult. You call yourself a baseball guy, fine, that call out PP's blog as incorrect and give a bseabl;l guy like Morris his due credit.

I give Morris his due credit for all of his accomplishments at UM. But, no head coach can take total credit for anything without the help of their assistants and recruiters. To say they were Morris recruits, or TT recruit would be unfair. Only they know who recruited who or who convinced this kid or that kid to sign so we have no idea if they were TT recruits. But it takes more than one person to win a championship. And their baseball program was bigtime before Morris. Ever heard of Ron Fraser? He won championships and coached them into the 90's. Dont get me wrong, Morris deserves credit, but he didnt do it alone.
Dont take everything so personal.

I agree, and yes, I do remember Fraser and all he did. But I believe what sparked this entire cpnversation was PP saying "Coker didn't have to talk in 2001, because he was winning with Butch Davis's players. Jim Morris did the same with TT's recruits. How many NCs did Coker and Morris win when they had to recruit their own players. Alex, I'll take Easy Answers for $800.....What is zero?" So, like I said before, PP is absolutely 100% wrong in his assessment of the UM baseball Nat'l championships, and he is a hypocrit for stating that coaching is soooo important and then laying Nat'l Championships on who recruited the best players. It cannot be both.

24/7 revert to my previous statement for that answer. and im not sure if you were a coker supporter or not but im sure that in one time or another in your cane fan life you have called out coker for is inability to change his game plan when it was obvious that the other team had the canes No. its nothing to be ashamed to state taht you have agree'd in the fact that Coach Coker, although well respected among players still didnt live up to the coach that he was hired to be.

WOW, 24/7 you really get worked up talking about this. Winning at the "Big Time" D-1 level does rely heavily on who recruits the best players, BUT it also relies on coaching as well. The players are not going to make the lineup or depth chart. So I am going to have to disagree with you and say it is BOTH recruiting AND coaching that wins a NC. If a coach just throws the players on the field without preparing them for what he or his assistant have scouted and think they will see, he's a bad coach. If a coach does not get the best recruits, he really doesnt have a realistic chance of winning. Yes coaching matters, but at the same time i remember what a former coach told me in the past, "You cant make chicken salad out of chicken sh@#." FIU has been dropping the ball for years now so as an alum, I hope they get past their inferiority complex. If your going to be big time, you have to act big time. not talk it.

FIU-CALI by best athlete do you mean Rival ranking or best for the team cause a 2star athlete might not be heavily recruited but could be whats right for your team. again as i said before our UM bloggers cannot deny that b/c some of their greatest (recent) hero's were 2 or 3 star recruits

CJ you might be right. Some 2-3 star recruits do pan out as legit stars. That really comes down to how well a coach can judge talent. I will relate this to baseball, of course, our number one pitcher at FIU in 97' was a guy that was not even recruited by any big schools. He ended up drafted after having a great FIU career. I would say that Mark Calvi was a great judge of talent on him. So back to the point, you ARE somewhat right, but the 4-5 star recruits are usually a good investment. Of course some do not pan out, but percentage-wise, there's a reason a kid is recruited by USC, Ohio State, Texas, or any other big name school. Those are the kids you eventually have to get or they will be the ones beating you.

hey not saying that the right fit isnt a big name kid just was wondering what was your definision by best athlete. but for the most part i think we agree that its a balance of young talent and a good coach.

You give me all the five star athletes and the worst coach is D-1 football - you can have all 2-3 star athletes and Vince Lombardi nad I will win a large majority of the time, if not everytime.

Your kidding me right? Your name says it all Crazy.

Okay people, it is that time of the week again where I need to put a stop to the UM crap and get the posts moving. But first, PP, great job with these interview post. Very insightful. I wisdh however MC would comment about the blog itself and what he thinks of what some of the UCGers have said in the past about the program. Does MC care what they are saying about him and the GP football team. Back to straightening stuff out - yes, I agree, you need the players to win, but a coach is an individual who leads. Also, rememebr this is college football, a head coach is also needed to guide young men who still have a lot of growing up to do. Winning isn't everything people (UM doesn't understand that concept) MC talked about retention and graduation rates - those things are far more important than wins and losses. FIU football may not be in the top 25 anytime in the next 5 years - but if they start graduating everyone - you can bet parents (like my self) will push our student athletes to attend FIU. The UM fan on this site of lost track of what is important in college football and life, being a good person first and foremost. My son reads this blog and he calls me everyday and says, Dad - why can't the UM fans just stop posting on the FIU blog. I don't understand. And why do they have to be so ruthless. My response to him is always the same, I do not know, but ignore them, they just realize that UM is not the center of the college football universe anymore and they do not how to deal with it. I love FIU. I love being on the campus with my family, I love being able to speak Spanish on campus and not get dirty looks from little rich white kids. I am a man of integrity, old fashioned values and the UM program represents everything I am not, that is why I hate them. FIUDad...out

You love FIU and hate UM because you can speak Spanish on campus without people looking at you? Are you serious sir? I hope that some of the other FIU fans on this site find that comment as redicuouls as I do. Lets see, what other garbage did you post in your unintelligible rant. Winning and losing isn;t everything, building young mens character - again, I must say - give me a break. You think that MC would rather have a 95% graduation rate or a 9-1 season with a bunch of thugs? HMMM, I am going to with the latter. How about you CJ, FIU Fan, scUm, Blue and Gold - whgat would you rather have - a bunch of individuals who are well resepectedand go 2-8 year in and year out, or a bunch of non-graduating, chest thumping, loud mouths who are in contention for a Nat'l Championship every year? FIUDad, I am sure you mean wel;l with your posts, but they are so stupid, it isn;t even funny. I don't care if your son can't understand the UM posters, get him hooked on phonics and maybe he'll be able to understand better.

FIU Cali, I am totally serious. I definelty think my team of blue chippers with MC will beat the 2-3 star athletes with VL coaching them. You disagree?

Mow MC is the worst coach in the nation? I'll bet you werent saying that when he was at the U. Your talking about Vince Lomardi? One of the best coaches of all time. I think there are some coaches that can ruin a 5 star team but with Vince Lombardi leading the other team? Your credibility is beginning to run low with me. I am beginning to enjoy this blog though. You UM fans are insane. Go FIU!

that was supposed to say "Wow" not Mow

MC wasn't the HEAD coach at UM, he wasn't even a coordinator. If memory serves me correctly, he has never been anything more than a position coach. Therefore, yes, as far as I am concerned, he is the worst head coach in the country. He has ZERO evidence to prove me wrong at this point in time. As for VL coaching you 2-3 star athletes, I stand by my position.

Can anyone out there what makes MC such a great Head Coach? Do not mention recruiting, b/c as evidenced by this blog today, getting players and coaching players are two completely seperate things. So FIUers, I ask you, what makes MC the right HEAD coach for the FIU job. This should be interestng. Let the insanity and unintelligence begin.

crazy cane no where did FIU_CALI say in his statement about MC being the head coach and im sure there are other coaches in the NCAA that have no former coaching credentials and were only position coaches that got HC jobs. so to say MC is the worst is a pretty bold statement.

We all know he wasnt the head coach. I never said he was. You should take it as a compliment that he is now a head coach instead of bashing him. Great programs are also judged not only by the players they send to the next level but also by their coaches that are even considered for other jobs. Example, USC, Pete Carroll has lost a few coaches over the years to head coaching positions and NFL positions. Norm Chow, Ed Orgeron (dont know if i spelled it right) Lain Kiffen- Raiders, good luck to him by the way, he needs it with Al Davis still the owner. I guess the point is: only time will tell. I'll tell you what though, I like what i see so far from Pete Garcia as far as hirings. And of course winning is everything. Otherwise, why play?

24/7 ill bring light to both questions you've put out there. first i would like to state that i would be happy with a team that does not get in the paper for not being able to read right etc. but you can have smart students and not be a 2-8 team. i would be happy w/ a team that constantly gives me 9 wins, a conference championship, and a great bowl game. NC's are great but i aint goin to crucify my team for not winning one.. thats called being a fan.

as to what makes MC the Right hire for the job. is the fact that he is turning the FIU Mind set around. he's creating a buzz around FIU that are actually making new students proud to be a golden panther. i wish they would have done that when i was an incoming frosh. back then (i say it like it was so long ago) being a panther to me and my friend was a joke. now it aint now we are making the right moves and thats creating the buzz and excitement that this school needs

also what makes him the right high is the intensity that you can tell he is bringing to the program and the mannor that he is taking. i only know 1 person on the coaching staff. but if that person is any indication of the coaches they brought in the future is bright and intense for FIU FOOTBALL

Hate to say it but how is you saying you get dirty looks from little rich white kids any better than the apparent looks they give you? Maybe you hate them because they are rich, or white, who knows, but if you are saying UM isn't a program of "character" then I would love to see you say that about characterless people like Jonathan Vilma, Ken Dorsey, Jim Kelly, Vinny Testaverde, your coach and former A&F model (if memory serves me correctly) Jeff Pops, oh yea, and your head coach Mario.

Oh, and to further show just how witless of a comment FIUDad posted, UM is ranked 6th in the COUNTRY for the APR rates. APR stands for Academic Progress Rates, so I guess they are worried about other things besides wins and losses, but that doesn't make the headlines. That was just an ignorant statement and everybody is allowed to have a slip up, but please make an effort to properly back up your arguments with facts instead of ignorant beliefs and misconceptions, after all, that is the mark of a progressing civilized society.

And don't worry too much about UM's football program, it's just fine, it had a down year last year, just like Oklahoma and Michigan had a few years ago and they are coming back strong. They have a top 10 recruiting class already, received a commit from the best receiver in the state today and have a few more coming. I understand people hate UM, a lot of them for nothing more than petty, inferior reasons, but those are their reasons nonetheless and are entitled to them. Just be sure that when disclosing said beliefs try to conjure up some decent reasonable ones that amount to something more than a glorified and childish "I hate them just because I hate them" statement.

We will find out soon enough if MC was a good choice...perhaps even sooner (geez, or even perhaps later)than what some ucg fans will find out if Shannon was the right choice for them as well. Be patient and not stupid in your endeavors. It will go a long way in improving your life and outlook.

Very sad news for Wendy Napoleon. He had a bright future in football. But walking away with your health is what really matters. Hopefully he'll continue to be around the team as he earns his degree.

southpaw what happened to him that he had health issues?

This guy really is crazy...

If what you say is true CrazyCane, then both MC and your boy Shannon are tied up for WORST HEAD COACH in D-1 FB...just because they have ZERO HEAD Coaching experience...just you said: "He has ZERO evidence to prove me wrong at this point in time."
Is that really what you think about yr HC, CrazyCane??? Will you admit that or is it too much pride?
***Watch the flip-flop, fellas...

Also, I do not think that Pete is a hypocrite...In my opinion (which could be wrong), PP was only stating the FACT that Coker never won a NC with his OWN players...PERIOD...THAT'S IT...that's all he tried to say...he wasn't trying to draw DELUSIONAL comparisons between 5-star players and great coaches...the UCG guys took it to another context
Let me know if I'm wrong about this Pete

Pete thanks again for a great post. while your in Nawlins make sure to go to Cafe Dumot or something like that right by the river near Hard Rock. They got some kick butt things called buneetes or something. sorry I dont know how to spell it. Kinda like fried donughts with tons of powdered shuga!

U24/7 we wont know how great MC is until bullets start flying and he developes his record as a head coach. But I can tell you this, he has the right ATTITUDE for greatness and you can see that from his responses. Compare his and Randy Shannons words and I bet they have a lot in common. Probably put in Schianos words, and Myers words, hell even Stoops. Great coaches refelct a certain attitude and that gets reflected onto the team.

To say someone wins with other people's players doesn't take away from the argument that coaching matters.

Every once in a while the leadership of certain players can win DESPITE the coach. Like a SR heavy team that keeps an old attitude. Coaching in that case affects future success. Winning is a combination of good coaching and good players. 50-50. To say one matters more than the other is like telling everyone in a canoe to paddle on the same side. Your gonna go in circles. Players dont recruit themselves, they don't call plays or disect film. They don't prepare the kicker, put together a schedule, or set the standards of excellence for the team. And coaches don't set foot on the field of play and physically change a game.

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