Longtime college football analyst Mike Farrell named Mario Cristobal in his article about "Which Coaches Could Benefit Through the Portal from Saban’s Retirement." Farrell listed Cristobal third. Lane Kiffin of Mississippi and Deion Sanders of Colorado are listed ahead of Cristobal.
Sonny Dykes of TCU and Mike Norvell of Florida State were listed fourth and fifth as the final coaches on Ferrell's list. Norvell is emerging as one of the leading candidates to replace Saban at Alabama. Unless Alabama hires offensive coordinator Tommy Rees as head coach, the new coach could impact two programs with transfers.
Alabama players have until February 9 to enter the transfer portal. If Alabama hires a coach from outside their program, the players from that team will have 30 days from the time their head coach leaves to enter the transfer portal. Miami could benefit from those players as transfers.
Mario Cristobal was the assistant head coach, recruiting coordinator and offensive line coach at Alabama from 2013-2016 under Saban. Miami has strongly recruited several players on the Alabama roster. Running back Kevin Riley flipped from Miami to Alabama on Early National Signing Day in December.
"3. Mario Cristobal- Mike Farrell.
The skinny: Cristobal has a longstanding relationship with Nick Saban, and with that a deep appreciation of what he has accomplished in Tuscaloosa. The Canes added three Tide transfers last year, most notably offensive linemen Javion Cohen, and have been linked with a few of the current available transfers. Any players who enters would get a very long look from the Canes."
In addition to Cohen, Miami added former Alabama wide receiver Ty Harrell and defensive tackle Jamil Burroughs. Harrell had four receptions for 45 yards in 2024. Burroughs was ineligible to play in 2023 after transferring to Miami in August. Cohen had a major impact on a significantly improved 2023 Miami offensive line.
Alabama had 13 players on its 2023 roster from Florida. One player to watch could be edge rusher Keanu Koht. Koht considered Miami as a recruit. Alabama has already lost 21 players to the transfer portal. All but 10 of the Alabama players who entered the transfer portal have committed to new programs.
Alabama players still have four weeks to decide if they want to transfer following Saban's retirement. Miami has added seven transfers to the 2024 roster. Expect Cristobal and his staff to continue monitoring the transfer portal. A second transfer portal will open from April 16-30 for players who did not lose a head coach.