The Florida International Golden Panthers made a very surprising decision on Wednesday, making the announcement that head coach Mario Cristobal had been relieved of his duties.
Cristobal, who played at the University of Miami in the 1980’s and took over as Golden Panthers head coach after the 2006 season following a three year run as an assistant at his alma mater, posted a 27-47 record in his six years with Florida International, including a 3-9 mark this season.Although the numbers don’t really correlate with a coach that would be considered “safe”, you have to look at the Florida International program before Cristobal stepped it: it had an overall record of 15-41 and was best known for a brawl with Miami.
Cue Cristobal’s arrival and the Golden Panthers posted two winning seasons, including a 7-6 mark in 2010 that was good enough for Florida International’s first Sun Belt title. It appears more and more evident that Cristobal and athletic director Pete Garcia just didn’t see eye to eye, leading to the decision to move on without Cristobal.
With Cristobal now looking for another job (don’t worry, I believe he will be coaching in the FBS in 2013), who will be the next Florida International head coach? Here are four candidates that I think Garcia and the rest of the athletic department should strongly consider:
Butch Davis, former North Carolina HC – Davis is considered by many to be the favorite for this job due to his relationship with Garcia, who worked alongside him at the University of Miami and with the Cleveland Browns. While Davis’s tenure at North Carolina didn’t end as well as most would have hoped due to a major NCAA investigation, he was never implicated in the mishandlings that happened, which may leave him as a possibility for this position.
Brent Pease, Florida OC – Pease, now in his first season as the Gators offensive coordinator, will slowly begin to be mentioned for head coaching jobs due to Florida’s success this year. Although the offense did struggle at different parts of the year, an 11-1 record makes it fairly obvious that Pease’s players must be doing something right.
Todd Grantham, Georgia DC – Grantham has made it blatantly obvious that he is looking to become a FBS coach, and a job in the Sun Belt like this one would be a real fine place to start. Now in his third season as Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator, Grantham has been the leader of a defense that was dominant for the second half of the season, allowing more than fourteen points just twice.
Gene Chizik, former Auburn HC – It is unclear where Chizik will land next, but Miami may just be the perfect spot. A native of Tarpon Springs, Florida, Chizik’s national championship would undoubtedly woo all of the Sun Belt-quality players that he would have to go after with the Golden Panthers. The more I think about it, the more I believe Chizik will probably sit back, play golf, and wait on an outstanding offer somewhere else, but it wouldn’t hurt for the team to test the waters.