Mario Cristobal told Butch Davis in 1997 goal of being Miami head coach

Feb 2, 2022; Coral Gables, Florida, USA; Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 2, 2022; Coral Gables, Florida, USA; Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

When Mario Cristobal interviewed with former Miami head coach Butch Davis for a graduate assistant position in 1997 was asked what he wanted out of the job. Cristobal replied, “I want to be in your seat.” Prior to accepting the graduate assistant position with Miami, Cristobal was working in public relations.

Mario Cristobal is the epitome of Miami and the football program. A graduate of Christopher Columbus high school, Cristobal was an offensive tackle for the Hurricanes from 1989 through 1992. Cristobal was on the 1989 and 1992 Miami national championship teams. Cristobal started for Miami at offensive tackle in 1991.

After his collegiate career, Cristobal signed with the Denver Broncos as an undrafted free agent in 1994. Cristobal played with the Amsterdam Admirals in NFL Europe in 1995 and 1996. Following the PR stint, Cristobal began his coaching career. The Miami football program was in transition when Cristobal was hired.

Miami finished 5-6 in 1997 and was slowly emerging from probably from a Pell Grant scandal under former head coach Dennis Erickson. In the first season with Cristobal on the coaching staff Davis led Miami to a 9-3 season and 46-23 victory over North Carolina State in the MirconPC Bowl.

"CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Mario Cristobal told Butch Davis he’d be here, sitting in the ultimate position of power as Miami’s head football coach. The proclamation came a quarter century ago. Cristobal, one of the heaviest of heavyweight coaches these days, was interviewing to become a graduate assistant at his alma mater.“What do you want out of this?” asked Davis, then the Hurricanes coach. “I want to be in your seat,” Cristobal replied. “What do you mean?” countered the coach with three Super Bowl titles to his name. “I want to be head coach at the University of Miami,” Cristobal said."

Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports detailed the interview Cristobal had with Davis. Cristobal spoke to Dodd about his decision to return home and take the Miami head coaching job in December. In two months Cristobal has significantly upgraded the 2022 Miami signing class and hired an exceptional coaching staff.

Accepting the Miami coaching job for Cristobal was about more than returning home. Cristobal told Dodd he was not returning to Miami unless the Hurricanes were in a position to win championships. The coaching staff he has assembled with elite recruiters should make Miami a contender in a few years.

"“I was not leaving until [Miami] was designed to be a championship program…Without that, there is no reason…Having worn the uniform, it is the right move. It is a powerful move…It is a passionate, emotional move. And it is bittersweet.”"

With an incomplete staff, Cristobal was able to sign two top 100 players and two ranked between 100 and 110 in less than two months. None of those four players were previously committed to Miami. Miami improved from a ranking in the seventies to 15th in the 247 Sports Composite rankings.

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Cristobal has spoken extensively about what it means to wear The U on his chest when recruiting. Returning home and coaching at his alma mater means more to Cristobal than his previous positions. Cristobal built a strong program at Oregon. With the fertile recruiting base in South Florida, Miami can return to the elite.