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Mario Cristobal and Dan Radakovich Have a Long Way to Go to Bring Back 'The U'

Ryan Phillips
Miami Introduces Mario Cristobal as Head Football Coach
Miami Introduces Mario Cristobal as Head Football Coach / Mark Brown/GettyImages
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Miami has made some big moves this week in an attempt to revive its beleaguered athletic department and football program, spending a ton of cash along the way. The school has splashed a lot of money to make some big hires, but time will tell if that's enough to bring back its glory days.

"The U" landed two alums in an attempt to turn things around. First Miami plucked Mario Cristobal away from Oregon in an attempt to revive its dormant football team, then the university lured Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich to South Beach.

In Cristobal, Miami landed a relentless recruiter who studied under Nick Saban at Alabama for four seasons. The 51-year-old parlayed that success as the Crimson Tide's offensive line coach, assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator into a spot as Oregon's co-offensive coordinator and line coach. After only one season he was elevated to the head coaching position.

At Oregon, Cristobal took advantage of the weak Pac-12, stealing a ton of recruits out of Southern California to bolster his squad. He won two conference titles in his four seasons, compiling a 35-13 record and going 23-9 in conference. He also guided the Ducks to a Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin in 2020.

Cristobal is not a great in-game coach, but his energy, enthusiasm and ability to recruit will be welcome in Coral Gables.

Radakovich got his MBA from Miami in 1982 and will be serving as AD at his third ACC school. His previous stops at Georgia Tech and Clemson were clear successes and the Hurricanes are hoping the 63-year-old can bring that kind of prosperity with him.

Cristobal is set to make $80 million during his 10-year contract with Miami, and Radakovich will be among the highest-paid athletic directors in the country. But throwing money around won't bring back the mystique of Miami's glory days. That's going to take a ton of hard work and years of development.

Miami's brand has been seriously damaged by years of underachievement in football. The Hurricanes haven't won an ACC title since 2003. That's five head coaches ago -- six if you count Larry Scott's interim stint. Miami has only finished in the Top 25 three times in the last 16 years, and hasn't finished in the Top 10 in 18 years. Randy Shannon, Al Golden, Mark Richt and Manny Diaz all failed to find positive momentum to return the program to its status among the elite.

Cristobal has the shiny new contract and the recruiting chops, but he faces an uphill battle. While the ACC isn't an elite football conference, there are several programs on the rise. Dave Clawson has Wake Forest improving, N.C. State is getting better under Dave Doeren and Pat Narduzzi has found something at Pittsburgh. And let's not forget, despite a down season, Clemson is still king in the ACC.

On top of that, Miami has been awful at recruiting its own state. The SEC, Big Ten and others ACC programs have been raiding Florida for years. None of the top 20 players in the state are currently committed to Miami and only three of the top 50 have given the Hurricanes their pledge. That's just inexcusable. Cristobal's first order of business will be reestablishing relationships with the top high school programs in the state so he can start winning some battles.

It's going to be a long, slow, uphill battle for Cristobal and Radakovich to turn Miami into a power in football again. Maybe they can do it, but no matter how much money gets thrown around, don't expect "The U" to be back any time soon.

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