Mario Cristobal part of power five head coaching trend at alma maters

MIAMI, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 07: (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 07: (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

New Miami head coach Mario Cristobal is part of a growing trend of head coaches returning to their alma maters. Mario Cristobal took a circuitous route to return to Miami to become the Hurricanes head coach. Cristobal has previously been a head coach at FIU and Oregon with a 62-60 career record.

Kirby Smart has set the bar for coaches at their alma maters by leading Georgia to their first National Championship in 41 years. Mario Cristobal and Smart worked together under Nick Saban at Alabama. Smart was the Alabama defensive coordinator from 2008-15. Cristobal was on the Alabama staff from 2013-16.

Smart is 66-15 in six seasons at Georgia. The Bulldogs were an overtime touchdown on second down and 26 yards to go in overtime after the 2017 season away from having two National Championships. Georgia finally truly avenged its loss to Alabama from 2017. Can Cristobal create a similar blueprint for Miami?

Smart has now led Georgia to one SEC Championship, a National Championship and the Bulldogs are 6-2 in bowl games during his tenure. Cristobal led Oregon to two Pac 12 Championships, three title game appearances, two New Year’s Six Bowl games and a victory in the 2020 Rose Bowl. Cristobal has a 3-3 bowl record.

The success by Smart and move by Cristobal to Miami are part of a wider trend of several Power Five head coaches at their alma maters. Mike Gundy at Oklahoma State is the dean of Power Five head coaches at their alma maters. Gundy has a 149–69 with the Cowboys and 11–5 record in bowl games.

Pat Fitzgerald of Northwestern has the second-longest tenure among Power Five head coaches at their alma maters. Fitzgerald has provided stability and raised expectations in Evanston. The Wildcats are 109–90 in 16 seasons under Fitzgerald with a 5–5 bowl record. Northwestern ended a 64-year bowl win drought in 2013.

Georgia won the National Championship as the three seed in the College Football Playoff. The Bulldogs defeated Michigan in the semifinal at the Orange Bowl. Michigan is coached by their former quarterback Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh is 61–24 in seven seasons coaching Michigan.

Other Power Five head coaches at their alma maters are David Shaw of Stanford who succeeded Harbaugh with the Cardinal, Paul Chryst of Wisconsin who defeated Miami in bowl games in 2017 and 2018, Scott Frost of Nebraska and Jonathan Smith of Oregon State. Shaw and Chryst have been very successful.

Chryst is 65–23 at Wisconsin after coaching three seasons at Pittsburgh. Chryst has a 7-2 career bowl record with the Panthers and Badgers. Shaw is 93–45 overall and 5–3 in bowl games. After going 19-7 at Central Florida, including 13-0 in 2017, Frost is 15–29 at Nebraska. Frost will be on the hot seat in 2022.

Smith has similarly struggled at Oregon State with a 16–28 record in the same four-year span as Frost. The expectations are lower in Corvallis. Oregon State showed improvement in 2021 finishing 7-6 for their first winning season under Smith. The Beavers lost to Utah State in Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl.

Next. National website states Miami and FSU headed in different directions. dark

If more coaches returning to their alma maters have success than not, this is a trend that could continue. Fans throughout sports want their heroes to return home. Smart leading Georgia to the National Championship places him in mythical status for infinity. If Cristobal leads Miami to a national title he would receive the same.