ESPN barely passes Mario Cristobal with midseason grade

Oct 15, 2022; Blacksburg, Virginia, USA;AC Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 15, 2022; Blacksburg, Virginia, USA;AC Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /

In midseason grades from ESPN via On3, Miami head coach Mario Cristobal barely passed. Adam Rittenberg of ESPN graded Cristobal with a D+ via Daniel Morrison of On3. Miami had a lot of expectations in its first season under Cristobal as the prodigal son returned to Miami after four years as the Oregon head coach.

Miami was chosen as the favorite to win the ACC Coastal division by the media in the preseason primarily because of the hiring of Mario Cristobal as head coach. The Hurricanes received 98 out of 164 first-place votes and led Coastal division teams with 1,036 points. Miami has started the 2022 season 3-3.

After winning its first two 2022 games, Miami suffered losses at Texas A&M and at home to Middle Tennessee State and North Carolina. Miami lost to Middle Tennessee State as a 25.5-point favorite and has not covered the point spread this season versus an FBS opponent. Cristobal has a sub .500 history covering points.

Cristobal was brought in because of his ability as a recruiter and provides Miami with a big-name head coach. The hiring of Cristobal as head coach and Dan Radakovich as athletic director has quickly helped Miami in fundraising. The 3-3 record at midseason has quickly evaporated the honeymoon Cristobal had with Miami fans.

"“Mario Cristobal, Miami. The Hurricanes hired Cristobal because he’s a program builder and a ‘Miami guy.’ So were Manny Diaz and Randy Shannon. They didn’t work out, either. Now, with a huge investment in the program, things are tense.”"

The analysis from Morrison above is premature in determining how Miami will progress with Cristobal as head coach. Shannon was 5-7 in his first season as Miami’s head coach. Larry Coker who was the head coach the last time Miami won the national championship in 2021 preceded Shannon.

Shannon finished 28–22 in four seasons as head coach. Miami was 6-7 in the first season under Diaz and finished 21–15 in three seasons. Cristobal and Shannon missed each other by one season as players at Miami. Shannon played for Miami from 1985 through 1988. Cristobal was a Hurricane from 1988 through 1992.

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Miami is favored to win four of its final four games according to the ESPN Football Power Index. A 7-5 inaugural season for Cristobal with the Miami football program has to be considered a disappointment. Cristobal led Oregon to a 9-4 record including a win over Michigan State in the Redbox Bowl in his first season in 2018.