Miami spring football game to give first glimpse at return of ‘The U’ as Mario Cristobal ushers in a new era

Since Miami joined the ACC in 2004, the criticisms pushed toward the football program have been loud. Miami doesn’t spend. Miami doesn’t care. Miami doesn’t take football seriously enough. Miami doesn’t invest.  

Well this offseason, in a long-awaited response, “The U” convinced Mario Cristobal to leave a playoff-adjacent, new-money program at Oregon to return to the beaches of Coral Gables. It also stole Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich, one of the driving forces behind the Tigers’ ACC dynasty, and also nabbed Broyles Award-winning offensive coordinator Josh Gattis from Michigan and picked veteran assistant Kevin Steele to run the defense. 

Calling Miami’s spring game the start of a new era is an understatement. In front of a sold-out house at MLS Inter Miami’s DRV PNK Stadium, Saturday marks the Hurricanes’ reintroduction to the world of big-time college football. 

Even two decades after their most recent national championship, the mystique behind “The U” still remains. Between 1983 and 2001, the Hurricanes won five national championships under four different coaching staffs. No other program won more than three over that time period. Amid external criticism, the university finally stood its ground and swung for the fences. 

“The University of Miami is an institution dedicated to the pursuit of excellence,” Miami president Julio Frenk wrote in September. “As our football team gets ready to kick off conference play this evening, I want to make clear that the Board of Trustees and I, as president, recognize the essential part of our brand and reputation derived from athletics and we are fully committed to building championship-caliber teams at the U.” 

Cristobal, of course, embodies that Miami culture. He grew up in the city…


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