Mario Cristobal learned quickly from coordinator hiring mistakes

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 /

Mario Cristobal was widely praised when he hired Kevin Steele as the defensive coordinator and Josh Gattis as the offensive coordinator on his first staff he was widely praised. Steele has coached for over 40 years. Gattis came to Miami after winning the 2021 Broyles Award as the best assistant coach in college football.

Mario Cristobal quickly pivoted when Gattis and Steele did not work out and hired Lance Guidry as the new defensive coordinator and Shannon Dawson as the offensive coordinator as replacements. Cristobal fired Gattis and Steele left Miami to become the defensive coordinator at Alabama.

Dawson brings a modified version of the Air Raid offense to Miami. Guidry utilizes multiple fronts and coached a top-10 defense at Marshall in 2022. The coordinator hires were in addition to four new positions coaches and 14 new players through the transfer portal. Miami will have a different look in 2023.

Cristobal also hired running backs coach Tim Harris Jr., Kevin Beard at wide receiver, Derek Nicholson at linebacker and promoted Jason Taylor on the defensive line as new coaches for 2023. Adam Gorney of Rivals.Com examined comments an anonymous assistant coach made about Cristobal’s hires in 2022.

"MIAMI“The idea is that Mario hired names instead of fits but that doesn’t make sense for a guy who knew the place he was going back to and who’s already coached at a high level.” – An opposing ACC assistant coachGorney’s take: FICTION. From the time Mario Cristobal was a teenager through his years playing at Miami, the Hurricanes were an elite program, one of the best in the nation. When he came back to his hometown to coach at Miami, the Canes were still a high-end program and capable of winning it all.While I’m sure he watched it closely from afar, in many ways Cristobal was coming back to a program that was completely foreign to him. No one can step into the Miami program and restart the national title contention from Day 1. Over nearly two decades, Miami has had one 10-win season.The best-of-the-best programs have routinely come into South Florida to steal talent. So while Josh Gattis didn’t work out as offensive coordinator – for numerous reasons – I don’t think Cristobal just hired big-name coaches to come in and turn this thing around.He hired “fit” guys and sometimes when assembling a staff it’s not going to work. But just like in the real world, cut losses quickly and move on. Admitting mistakes and learning from them is a strength, not a weakness.”"

During the 2023 offseason, Cristobal said rebuilding the roster was a more significant task than he initially thought. Miami was able to sign the seventh-best 2023 recruiting class. The 2024 Hurricanes class is trending towards a top 10 once the blue-chip recruits who are projected to Miami commit.

Gattis and Steele were not able to utilize the players on the Miami roster. It frequently seemed as if they were trying to fit the Miami players into their system. The most successful coaches utilize a player’s strengths and fit that into their system. Expect Dawson and Guidry to adapt to the players’ strengths.

Dawson was recently named by CBS Sports as a coordinator poised to emerge as a head coaching candidate earlier this month. The career trajectory for Guidry is also trending up. The new assistant coaches should provide Miami with a boost, particularly in recruiting. Miami prospects have frequently mentioned Taylor.

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June is a critical month for Miami recruiting. Miami will host 37 prospects for official visits in June. The 2023 class built momentum in June. Cristobal has been lauded as a recruiter. Many national experts expect that under Cristobal Miami will minimize the success of programs signing players from South Florida.