UM coach Al Golden spoke with WQAM's Joe Rose Friday morning on a number of subjects including how he was one of the first people to call Mario Cristobal the day he was fired from FIU last month.
""My first thought was 'How did he get let go? Look at the Colts. Any coach is a quarterback away from having that type of year," said Golden, who said he was recruiting in New Jersey when he first heard the news. "I thought he deserved an opportunity to continue despite not performing up to his standards."
Golden didn't have a job to offer Cristobal at first, but one became open when former receivers coach George McDonald left for Arkansas about two weeks late. Golden told Rose he interviewed some other candidates, but "ultimately came back to Mario."
"The one thing he brings right off the bat is head coaching experience," Golden said before making the point that offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch will still oversee the offense and make play calls. "Mario is somebody I can count on for some of the ancillary head coaching things and see the big picture a little bit better. His expertise as a tight end coach; o-line coach; a guy that has coached many positions and cultivated talent and recruited talent in this are was too good a package to pass up."
Ultimately, Cristobal should help UM out immensely with recruiting Golden said -- from the northeast during his time at Rutgers to South Florida.
"We're kind of kindred spirits," Golden said. We both took over programs that were absolutely abysmal and kind of turned them around. We have mutual respect from the outside..."
"I didn't know what direction he wanted to go in his career, but when I knew he wanted to be a part of the University of Miami and obviously the love he has for this place and the passion he's going to bring, I just think we improved our football program and our coaching staff yesterday."
> Golden said he's excited about the job UM has done in recruiting thus far alluded to how the program is waiting on a few top local prospects to make a late decision before National Signing Day.
There's a curse and blessing about recruiting in South Florida. The blessing is a lot of the high-end talent is here. The curse is that a lot of guys don't decide until late because they are so highly sought after... You got to be patient and we've done that I believe. I think we've demonstrated to a lot of young men that we're willing to wait for them. We're committed to them and their high school coaches. I think we're going to finish strong here."
> As for linebacker and third-leading tackler Gionni Paul, who mutually parted ways with the program last week, Golden said: "It wasn't going in the right direction. We've decided a change would be best. Right now we're trying to find Gionni a new home and get a fresh start and move forward."
Golden said he doesn't have a lot of rules in place and doesn't want to "micro manage."
"It's always the two percent, three percent that take up the headlines," Golden said. "I walk into a team meeting room Sunday night and there 90 guys there that don't know what the rules are because they do things right. If you got to continue to micro manage those five to eight guys, if you can't trust them, that leads to total control. I don't want to do that to Stephen Morris, Brandon Linder, Allen Hurns, Phillip Dorsett, Anthony Chickillo. I don't want to do that because guys can't follow basic principals."
> Golden said running back Duke Johnson will be joining receiver Phillip Dorsett on UM's track team Monday. Golden said he would eventually like to "see a 4x100 relay team made up of Miami Hurricanes." He alluded to a few recruits in his next class who he thinks will also run track.
Golden said football players who participate in track will continue to lift and participate in drills. "But if they can help our track team out and make us faster or more explosive, I'm all for it," Golden said.
> Golden said he has no idea when the NCAA will finally send its letter of allegations, but feels the program has acted like "a beacon in terms of how you should operate if something occurs. Hopefully we'll be a model of how you self impose and how you make restitution to move a program forward."
"The way I feel is we're having a junior day on Sunday and having some kids coming down. That's going to be the third class I've had to deal with this. People want to talk about probation. We've been on probation. This has been probation, this has been recruiting probation; PR probation. I think we've exhibited class in terms of being open and honest and reaching resolution. We're ready to move on, there's no question about it. We've got great kids on this team. Our graduation rates were tied for first in the ACC."
> Golden said he's done a lot of out of state recruiting in the past and will close in on Florida, specifically South Florida over the final three weeks leading up to National Signing Day.