MIAMI -- Woah. If you had Mario Cristobal in the college football offseason firing pool, you just got very rich (and you're obviously lying).
Florida International University's head coach was fired Wednesday morning in a shocking decision -- or was it? According to the Sun-Sentinel, former University of Miami coach Butch Davis may be waiting in the wings.
Athletic director Pete Garcia called FIU's 2012 season "a total collapse," according to the Associated Press, adding in statement that the program, which began in 2002, needs new direction.
The Panthers were in fact a gruesome 3-9 this season, suffering a rash of injuries to their young roster.
But Cristobal, just the second coach in FIU football history, guided the program to its first winning season, first two bowl games in 2010 and 2011, and first-ever Sun Belt conference championship (2010) after taking over the basement-dwelling program -- which played in a high school stadium and had racquetball courts for a weight room -- in 2007.
The turnaround made Cristobal one of the hottest coaching prospects in the country, drawing a job offer from Rutgers. But the Miami native and former University of Miami lineman opted to stay home, renewing his contract with FIU for another five years last July.
He made it just one more year.
"Today we informed Coach (Mario) Cristobal that a change was being made in the direction of our football program," FIU athletic director Pete Garcia said. "I want to thank coach for all that he has done for develop the football program over the past six seasons. We will now turn our attention to attracting the very best candidate to fill the position of head coach. We will begin a national search immediately."
Garcia, who is overseeing FIU's move to Conference USA next season, sang Cristobal's praises when he resigned his head coach last year.
"People don’t realize what a hard job he’s had the last four years, taking a program that was broken," Garcia told the Miami Herald. "He didn’t have a weight room, didn’t have a stadium, didn’t have full scholarships. The program had probably the worst APR in the country.”
One comment accompanied the news on FIU's website: "This is a mistake," wrote fan Rob Bridenstine.