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.
Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, June 23, 33 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.
The Redskins week that was
A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington.
Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense—NFL coaches and others like to tell you that competition determines who wins roster spots in the league. And that may be true to an extent. But many roster spots are predetermined by a player’s contract situation and/or draft status. It is unlikely that an undrafted player like Fish Smithson will win a roster spot over Troy Apke even if the former outperforms the latter in every way during training camp. Apke was a fourth-round pick and they aren’t going to give up on him in favor of an undrafted player. It would cost $3.2 million in dead cap to cut Stacy McGee and only $150,000 to move on from Ziggy Hood so McGee will win a “competition” that is even remotely close. (Offensive projection here)
Redskins will 'have it out' for Terrelle Pryor at training camp—While this is something that could add a little spice to the Jets’ visit to Richmond, don’t look for much of anything to happen. Zach Brown might give a little extra shove to Pryor here and there but he’s not going to do anything that will draw blood or even cause a deep bruise. If nothing else, a big hit on Pryor would invite retaliation by the Jets on Josh Doctson or Paul Richardson. And that might lead to more retaliation and you end up with a brawl like the Redskins and Texans had a couple of years ago.
Trent Williams very much of approves of Smith and Guice—Williams is going into his ninth NFL season and he has yet to be on the winning side of a playoff game. He thinks that Alex Smith and Derrius Guice can help change that.
The curious case of Alex Smith and the NFL Top 100 list—I normally greet this list with a big yawn and this year was no exception. But I do find the omission of Smith, who led the NFL in passer rating and was third in adjusted net yards per attempt, odd. In an update to this post, the NFL released the names of the top 10 players and Smith is not on it. He shouldn’t be, but he should be somewhere on the 100, perhaps in the middle of the pack. The only Redskins player to appear on the list was Trent Williams at No. 57.
The Redskins' best players who are 25 or younger—It’s likely that nine players who are 25 or younger will line up as starters for the Redskins this year. I don’t have a rundown of how that compares to the rest of the league but it’s notable that in the last two years six of them have replaced players who were either approaching age 30 or over it. I’ll engage in some speculation here and say that five of the young players—Daron Payne, Derrius Guice, Preston Smith, Jonathan Allen, and Montae Nicholson—are good enough to potentially make a Pro Bowl at some point in their careers.
Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler.
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Former Redskins defensive tackle Dave Butz was born on this date in 1950.
—Training camp starts (7/26) 33
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 47
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 70
The Redskins last played a game 174 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 78 days.
In case you missed it
DALLAS—The Caps are “really close” to signing star defenseman John Carlson to a long-term extension, GM Brian MacLellan said Friday night.
“We’re getting closer,” MacLellan said following the first round of the NHL Draft. “Hopefully we can get it done here over the next few days. We’re really close.”
Earlier in the day, the Caps cleared significant space under the salary cap ceiling by trading Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik to Colorado for a second round draft pick (47th overall).
That space will now be used to lock up Carlson, who could become the best defenseman on the open market if he were to reach it.
MacLellan met with Carlson’s agent, Rick Curran, here on Thursday night.
MacLellan did not divulge any figures, but it’s expected that Carlson’s new contract could come in at eight years and $8 million per—or perhaps a bit more.
He earned $4 million last season.
Carlson had a career year in 2017-18 and was critical during the Caps' run to the Stanley Cup. He led all defensemen in the regular season with 68 points (15 goals, 53 assists). The 28-year-old also skated a career-high 24:47 per game.
MacLellan has long said that re-signing Carlson was the Caps’ top priority this offseason. And now it looks like that could happen within days, assuming the talks do not hit any snags.
“We’re going to do our best to sign John,” MacLellan said. “We’ve said it all along. We waited until the end of the year. We’ve had discussions. We’re close and hopefully we can close the deal here over the next 24 hours.”
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