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Mario Cristobal Q & A Part 1

Just 49 days before the Mario Cristobal era officially kicks off at FIU when the Golden Panthers open the season at Penn State on Sept. 1. So here with the help of you faithful GPP readers is the first of a four-part question and answer session with the new FIU football head coach. You asked it, he answered....

Mc YouGotGold: How are you going to address the kicking issue?

MC: Dustin Rivest was the kicker here last year. Also competing for his job are a couple of guys. John Paul Fraites has shown a real strong leg. We have to see what he can do. Then we have Chris Abed (Weston Cypress Bay) coming in. He was a guy that clearly was impressive in his workouts. We're going to heat up that competition as much as we possibly can by making it completely open. We're also bringing in two guys to compete for the long snapping position as well just so that there is no comfort zone. We have to let people know that seniority, hype doesn't guarantee you a thing. Special teams here last year were a little too comfortable. FIU was last in special teams last year. Last in return yardage, everything that had to do with special teams. We're going to make sure we bring in as many bodies that are capable of competing for special teams. Every freshman will long snap, anyone that has a leg will be tried out at kicking.

NYPanther: How do you size up the Sun Belt Conference and how many recruiting classes do you need to win the Sun Belt? What conference do you see FIU joining next?

MC: The Sun Belt is loaded with some pretty good talent. Your goal every year and everyone's goal is to win your conference. But truly we're recruiting to beat everyone in the country -- that's our philosophy. People might raise an eyebrow or might be skeptical, but truly we don't give a [darn]. Every single one of our coaches are resilient sons of a gun. We really don't care who we're recruiting against whether it be Ohio State, Miami, Florida, we're still going to go after that kid. We need a couple of recruiting classes to make sure when we break that huddle we look like a big-time, legitimate college football team. It's hard to put a number on [recruiting classes] because we haven't played a single game yet. First and foremost let's make the Sun Belt great, because the way these teams are beating these out-of-conference opponents it might take a turn where a BCS bid is granted to the Sun Belt. But those are the type of issues right now that I don't even worry about, because that's out of our control.

gpantera: Is having so many tough out-of-conference opponents the best strategy for such a young FIU program? Will you seek to play an aggressive OOC schedule or a more balanced one?

MC: The OOC schedule was something we inherited and it probably increases the difficulty for a growing team. The flip side is there's that much more hype, energy and exposure. FIU has made a decision to be a big time Division I program and what better way to do it than be on the big stage. We're going to build a monster here and it's just a matter of time. If we catch a big monster a little bit before we Mons become a monster and we're in for the fight of our lives, so be it. We're playing ball, let's go! I think we're going to have trouble scheduling opponents, because when we're in year 4 of our plan you're going to throw in an FIU tape and you're going to see a team that's been lifting, running in a program that has been geared to developing the finest in the country. People are going to see a program that they might want to pass on instead of playing FIU, especially in our stadium when the place is rocking. We're not going to shy away. I would like to go out west and play one of the big boys out west. I would like to play in the Northeast. Play some of the teams that come down here and try to recruit South Florida so we can let our South Florida boys know, "Hey, what are you doing?"

FIUmom: What is being fundamentally done to shore up the O-line?

MC: The offensive line -- just like anything else whether it be football or the ultimate fighting challenge -- the guys who are in the best shape usually win out. We have to develop our core, lower body and our explosiveness better than anybody else. With that comes discipline, toughness and the ability to recognize and think on the run. More than anything it's the attitude. Just committing to becoming nasty and smart. You can only increase someone's athletic ability by so much, but you certainly can increase their toughness, awareness and their freakin' attitude to get after it.

FI-UM Fan: Does tight ends coach Alex Mirabal still head butt people without a helmet?Mira

Rhodes_2 MC: I see no scars on his head like Dusty Rhodes. [MC says laughing] I haven't seen a head butt yet. He is an intense son of a gun and he has not changed since the days that he and I played side by side in Columbus [high school].

CJ: How's Mirabal doing with the tight ends?

MC: The tight ends, let's just say they leave practice and they want to be carted off the field on a stretcher. He grinds them. He works them. They've taken to him, because they know that dude lives and dies for this thing. He's doing awesome!


FIUGolden: Yes, I think the number of FIU license plates have definitely been on the rise. They're almost becoming as prevalent as those kids stickers people have on their rear windows -- just not annoying like those stickers.

FIU Fanatic: Post on any GPP blog, no problem. Bryan Mann is not eligible for this season and same with Shaquan Hicks. Jermaine Malcolm still has a chance to be eligible.

CJ: The Northwestern issue was a joke. How could the leaders of that school let that go on? Meanwhile, Antwan Easterling is in Southern Miss without a care in the world. A lot of people missed the boat on that one starting with the schools superintendent, Rudy Crew. Are those the kind of coaches you want at FIU -- heck no!

Congrats to Antwan Barnes on signing that 3-year, 1.4 million dollar deal with the Ravens. Speaking with some friends in Baltimore, the word there is that El Monstruo may even start.

Hey, everybody is welcome on the GPP as long as it's G-rated material.

NY Josh: Hadn't heard from you in a while, thought you fell asleep. Thanks for the FIU Top 4 sports figures plug, but I haven't done anything, yet. However, you could nominate me for the top 4 pitchers in my 4-team Sunday softball league!


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Every time I hear or read anything Coach Cristobal has to say regarding FIU football. I just get even more excited!

Great job, Pete. I am very much looking forward to seeing how our fearless leader answers all the other questions we tossed out.

Pete...nice work on your summer break with MC...now that I don't work there no more (yea I know it has been a while) i finally decided to post something on your blog. Keep up the good work


Thanks for deliverying on the MC interview.

I'd like to squeeze in one last question:

What role will former FIU players who want to be part of the new FIU family be allowed to play?

I for one pray that they are welcomed back, especially those who have gone on to the NFL. Those former players serve as role models for current players.

FIU Football - One Family

Thanks again Pete!


Great commentand thoughts, gpantera....we need to add from all angles to the growth of the GPC.

As usual Pete...thanks for this blog and information.....


Pete awesome blog update, I'm looking forward to the next part of the q&a series. Thanks for giving us GP fans this blog. Am I mistaken, or have you been on the "dos amigos show' on 790 the ticket? If not, I'm sure they'd love to have the FIU "beat writer" of sorts on the show, they seem to support FIU sports more than any other local radio team.

Mario is an excellent speaker, very exciting coach indeed. When was the last time we saw a local college coach display the same amount of charisma and energy as MC...and the season hasn't even started yet!

Wow, sounds very exciting! GO FIU!!

Thanks again Pete, another great job, and thanks to coach MC for taking the time to answer the questions!!!

Go FIU!!!

Looking at MC's photo and hearing the female FIU population talk about him. I think his looks will bring in a great deal of women to support FIU football


Sorry for hijacking your blog, but in classic gpantera fashion, I’m going way off topic. If it generates a few more hits, then I’m sure you don’t mind. Here it goes:


Anything is Possible.

To appreciate the significance of Wake Forest (WF) winning the vaunted ACC championship in 2007, you have to go back to what “the experts” were projecting for the WF Daemon Deacons before the ’07 campaign began. Like FIU, every writer forced to state anything about WF football wrote the same thing…that WF would finish dead last (sound familiar?). So why the lack of love for WF? Well you see, WF has been playing football since 1888 and been part of the ACC since 1953 (source: http://www.nationalchamps.net/NCAA/database/wakeforest_database.htm).

And what did this truly small school (under 5K enrollment) from this non-existent media market (Winston-Salem, NC) have to show for its over 100 years of football and over half a century in the ACC? A grand total of 1 ACC title they secured back in 1970 and barely a .400 win/loss record overall. So now you understand why most sport writers, who lack interest and vision and mostly write what has historically been written about a particular program, were surprised when a program like Wake Forest forces them to eat crow and write something different.

Last season also produced Boise State and Rutgers, other programs that forced crow down the throats of many a sports writer because they did not just challenge the establishment, they beat them.

So here’s FIU, sitting in the recruiting hotbed of South Florida, with a head coach who helped author the Rutgers blue-print for success, with a state of the art on-campus football stadium under constructions, an upper tier media market, nearly 40K students and nearing 150K alums just needing a reason to believe in order to flock onto the Golden Panther bandwagon.

Friends, when coach MC says FIU Football is going to be a monster, he’s speaking the truth. Our job is to keep our focus on this vision, even when the establishment tells us it’s impossible. Wake Forest, Boise State and Rutgers have all proven that nothing is impossible.

FI WHO? FIU! – Now ask me again!!

As always, Go G-Panthers!!!


Pete, thanks for the Q&A and for all your work on FIU athletics. There is a growing population of FIU alums and friends in South Florida (and in however many states we currently have reading the blog) who support our institution and its athletic program. Please also pass along my gratitude to Coach Cristobal for taking the time to respond to our questions.

thanks for the info pete. good to hear the feed back of the NW'ern issue. and good to hear the response from MC. how many more Q&A sessions can we get from MC. i got a last filler question. what team would MC really want to create a yr in yr out rivalry w/ if UM decideds to pull a UF and not wanna play us year in and year out.

I wouldn't mind seeing a USF v FIU yearly game. Especially given how close last year's game was and if we pound their face in next year's home opener...BAM...instant rivalry. We can call it the Univ of South Florida versus the REAL University of South Florida Bowl.

Yes FIUandME, I would love to see this USF vs. FIU rivalry begin.

I would like to see FIU beat someone before we even start to talk rivalry. But assuming they are better this upcoming year (which they kind of have to be, right) I would like to see a rivalry between FIU and USF as well. That way, it would make for a natural transition into the Big East should FIU ever become worthy of admission to the conference.

As for a previous post about MC bringing out the ladies - gimme a break. That is too easy even for me to to make fun of.

I agree CrazyCane, what the heck is FIUGolden talking about when he says, "Looking at MC's photo and hearing the female FIU population talk about him. I think his looks will bring in a great deal of women to support FIU football." Golden, what does that have to do with wins and losses. What does that have to do with him being a good coach. It is fans like this that make CJ, Realisst, Fanatic, even Scum, look bad. Comments like this should be "clawed" out. PP, leave the curse words, the racist remarks, ALL the trash talk, but please, remove crap like the aforementioned post. This comment belongs with the one the FIU fan stated a while back referring to the cheerleaders Nat'l Championship. Golden, though I am sure that PP appreciates you participating in his site and I'm sure the GPP loves that you are a fan, but comments like MC's looks will get a lot of women to support the football team is stupid. I am sure that MC walks into a Blue Chip athletes house to recruit him and says, Look player X, you should come to FIU b/c I am better looking then RanSha, BobBow and UrbMey. Gimme a break.

FIUMom - when does FIU 2 a days start? Where is your son on the current depth chart? I am not trying to be a smartass, I am actually going to cheer for your son. I figure I can cheer for FIU, as long as they are not playing Miami.

Much better...not perfect, but better...welcome to this blog, 24/7.

I am this blog.

sorry to say 24/7 the blog would prob. go on w/o you but see the comment you made before was actually pretty good. and congrats on realizing that you can cheer for 2 schools so long they not playing e/o


Thanks for asking about my son. In the spring he was 3/4 on the depth chart. He will be a RS-freshman this year. He has 2 juniors ahead of him because of experience, but we will see what happens. Neither of them were very productive last season, and I can't see Coach Cristobal riding that train. I am confident that the one who gets the job done will be on the field, whether it is my son or not. This spring he was the raider on punt return, so perhaps he will block a UCG punt and take it in for a FIU score. As far as 2-a-days....honestly, I am not sure. I will let you know as soon as I do.

And as far as cheering for UCG in return....well, I don't think I can do that. However, there is a player on UCG who used to play ball with my son when they were growing up. I think he walked on at UCG. It is WR Terrance Thomason. So I would cheer for him. Once a Blackhawk always a Blackhawk!!!

I knew this blog had become strangely polite of late. Now it's clear. UCG24/7 has been absent from the conversation for a while.

Welcome back brother, sister, or whatever you are UCG 24/7. I see you've been quietly suckin' down the haterade the last few weeks, reloading for another installment of the disruptive banter on this blog you've become infamous for.

If i read your post correctly, it appears you're a closet G-Panther Fan. I know, you'll deny it because being a member of the GPC hasn't hit a critical mass of cool status yet...but give us time. Time is the only thing standing between you and many like you who are just waiting for the day for the GPC to give you a reason to come aboard. I'll save you a seat on the bandwagon UCG24/7.

Morever, what's the deal with UM and the OB? Are you moving north to Dolphin stadium or what?

Finally, you'll appeciate this GPC. I was on the UM campus this past weekend when a car with Maryland plates drove up to me. A mom leaned out the window and asked me to point her to the on-campus OB. She said her son, sitting in the back seat, wanted to see where the formerly mighty canes played. I had to break her and her sons heart. I said, "Ms., football is not played on this campus, unless you're looking for intramural flag football. As for the canes, they play in the hood, south of the 836 in a decaying stadium. sorry."

in the mind of the child, the U's mystic took a serious blow that day. I get no joy in making a boy sad, but I had to keep it real.






How come when I talk about the area out west where FIU is located as being in the middle of nowhere, and other people talki about the farmers , etc, etc, this blog yell "racism", but qwhen a member of the GPC says that the OB is in "the hood" nobody even blinks? I do not think that the OB is in "the hood," which has a highly negative conotation. And listen, if the little snot nose brat in the back seat is going to be sad b/c the canes home stadium is not on campus, and that in some way deminshes the mystic for him, so what. Since he has never been to the OB, he doesn't know. I think we all can admit that yes, the OB is old, it is a "dump" for the lack of a better term, BUT, that stadium has something special about it. There is a history there that, in MY opinion is unparalled. Yes, Doak Cambell is nice, and the Swamp is cool, and I am sure the Cage will be beautiful, but there is something about the OB that is special, and none of those other stadiums have it, and they may never get it. So while I feel bad that the little boy didn't see the stadium of the team he loves, maybe he should blame his parents for not taking the extra 10-15 mintues to drive over to the stadium and make the kids the day instead of blaming the University of Miami.

As for TheU24/7 comment about cheering for FIU, as long as they are not playing the U, I guess I could go a long with that. I will also cheer for FSU as long as they are not playing UM or FIU. I will also cheer for UF as long as they are not playing UM, FIU or FSU. I will also cheer for Notre Dame as long as they are not playing anybody else. Seriously, I only root for THE U. So TheU24/7, while your comment is politically correct and obviously accepted by this Blog, I respectfully request that recant, and join in me over here, on the dark side of college football. These colors (green and orange) don't run baby! It has and always will be us against the rest of the college football world.

"I respectfully request that recant, and join in me over here, on the DARK SIDE of college football"
Slow down there Vader

"It has and always will be us against the rest of the college football world."
The Al Qaeda of College Football. Nice.

actually crazy cane has a point i have reversible shorts of the U orange and green and they still look as new as the day i bought them. as to coming over to the dark said... y? y can he be human and have some light and dark side. the best drink in town isnt milk or coffee black... its cafe con leche! o and i agree that the ob isnt in that bad of a neighborhood but some people probably think that if they dont speak gringo its a bad neigborhood.

U24/7 is right about FIU nation feeling OK when they call the OB's location "the hood". It is totally disrespectful and by the way it is the only STADIUM IN THE US to own the longest winning streak in the pros (MIAMI DOLPHINS), college (UCG),and high school (when you add Coral Gables High and Miami High who were the tenants in the 60's). I'm a FIU alumni, but it will take years and a miracle for the new stadium on campus to come close to what the OB has meant for this community. Is it old ?. Absolutely. Does it need to be replaced ?. Yes, but don't destroy what it has meant to this community. I grew up on that area of town and we never called anybody a gringo or a spic so let's stop with this nonsense.
This is a blog to have a good time and poke fun of each other. Brag about your team without hurting anyone. U24/7 you're right about those comments.




dont worry sunblazzer my gringo comment was only a shot at the "hood" comment

the beauty about this blog is that critical thinking and logic never appeas to slow anyone down from simply posting whatever irrational logic, or lack thereof, comes to mind.

We went from "the hood" to all sorts of degrading labels about ethnicity that was never mentioned or implied in the original 'hood' post. It doesn't matter if the folks who live around the OB were magenta pink and there place of birth is mars, all economic and criminal indicators clearly reveal that the OB is the hood...no one is mistaking the area south of 836 with 90210.

i grew up in an economicall depressed, minority majority hood in New Jersey. And although I have many fond memories of my childhood there, i don't get offended when it's described as da hood....darn it, it was an reamains da hood. i love that hood, but it's a hood nonetheless. if you guys want to make the case that the area surrounding the OB is not the hood, go ahead. when you're done arguing, please give me a call so that i can sell you some prime real estate in walking distance from your beloved OB.

gpantra the area around the OB will never compare to 90210 beverly hills or even kendall here in miami the point is its not the hood b/c the hood is just NE of their its not that bad of a neighborhood compared to there. thats all im saying

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