MIAMI (AP) Mario Cristobal took over a winless team at Florida International and wound up leading the Panthers to consecutive bowl appearances.
One bad season later, Cristobal is looking for work.
The Panthers fired Cristobal on Wednesday, a somewhat surprising move that came nearly two weeks after FIU finished an injury-filled season with a 3-9 record. Cristobal was told by athletic director Pete Garcia of the decision in a morning meeting, one that caught both the sixth-year coach and his team by surprise.
``Stunned. Sad,'' Cristobal said. ``We did a lot of good things. We graduated kids. We sent kids to the NFL. We turned a lot of things around. We had one bad year.''
Garcia called the season ``a total collapse,'' noting that FIU had 19 returning starters from a year ago and was expected to contend for a Top 25 spot this season, its last before going to Conference USA. He also said the fact that FIU's three wins this season came against teams that combined to win a total of six games was a factor.
``We will now turn our attention to attract the very best candidate to fill the position of head coach,'' Garcia said.
Garcia has close ties to Butch Davis, the former Miami Hurricanes and Cleveland Browns coach who last was working on North Carolina's sideline. Davis would figure to be a candidate at FIU, especially because Garcia has made splashy hires before - including Basketball Hall of Fame player Isiah Thomas, and then Richard Pitino, the son of Louisville coach Rick Pitino, after Thomas was fired earlier this year.
Cristobal was 27-47 at FIU, though took the Panthers to their first two bowl games - and turning around a troubled program that had lost 23 straight games in one stretch - before the disappointing campaign in 2012. FIU won the 2010 Sun Belt title and Little Caesars Bowl that season.
With Wrestlemania 36 underway this weekend, Maryland football coach Mike Locksley sat down on Instagram Live with former Terps defensive lineman and current WWE superstar Mojo Rawley to talk about his new career path.
Rawley's real name is Dean Muhtadi, and he played for the Terps in for two years as a Division III transfer. He finished third on team in sacks that season and despite going undrafted in 2009, found his way to an NFL camp with the Packers.
Muhtadi spent 2009 with Green Bay and 2010 with the Cardinals before suffering an injury that landed him on injured reserve. It was then where Muhtadi found a new career path thanks to two of his best friends.
"Dan Gronkowski and Chris Gronkowski played with me at Maryland, two of my closest friends," Rawley said on "Late Night With Locks". "Their dad was one of our coach's roommates in the WWE, so it seemed like a natural fit. We were watching together, and I kinda made a comment like, 'this would be awesome if I could be one of [the wrestlers]. Mr. Gronk made the call and the rest was history."
Rawley has been a WWE superstar and currently stands as Rob Gronkowski's hype man. The former Patriots tight end is WWE's most recent signee and is Wrestlemania 36's host.
MORE NCAA NEWS:
First up in Saturday's round-up of the best sports moments on the internet, everyone is trying to stick to as normal of a routine as they can while at home. Quarantine wasn’t going to keep Dwayne Johnson aka “The Rock” away from his “cheat day”. Have you ever seen french toast this big in your life?
Next up, the Watt brothers have been staying in shape working out together and they even have a football field coming soon. Check out JJ Watt painting the lines. He says he has a new respect for groundskeepers now. The stage is set for the Watt brothers!
Finally, no bullpen, no problem! Mets starting pitcher Marcus Stroman sets up a makeshift bullpen on his boat dock and it even has a mound. Now that is a beautiful place to get your reps in!
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