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Miami made the most Miami hire possible, in the most Miami way possible

Mario Cristobal is on his way back to Miami, but how he got there tells the story of not just of a university, but of a city where chaos is as much a part of the culture as sunshine.

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Oregon Ducks head coach Mario Cristobal watches players during warm ups before a game against the Washington State Cougars at Autzen Stadium. Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports


It’s a hashtag often promoted by filmmaker Billy Corben, a graduate of the University of Miami and the director of “The U” documentaries for ESPN. He’s also done projects such as Cocaine Cowboys and 537 Votes, stories that are about how South Florida is part-tropical paradise, part-Banana Republic.

As a provocateur, there is no one better at explaining why The 305 is the way that it is. The unending real estate hustle. The corruption that makes much of the Third World blush, up to recently and shamelessly firing the guy hired to root out that corruption.

If you know Miami, how its worldwide brand of a private university handled the transition from one football coach and athletic director to the next should not come as a surprise. It’s as much a part of the brand as an arepa at a fronton. Chaos, competing interests, and shady dealings often win the day without consequence.

And if it doesn’t work out? Just pay plenty of cash to make it go away.

In the modern era of college football, no program has so publicly chased a coach while having someone still coming into the office every day and incredibly actually recruiting for that program. Any potential high schooler could log onto Twitter and see that while Manny Diaz was in their living room, he had zero chance of actually being their coach.

It was humiliating for someone that clearly underachieved during his tenure given the level of talent in the program, but the lack of pushback from his side both publicly and on background was remarkable. There are no heroes in this story, but there is at least one man that can say he handled the disarray with dignity.

His bosses however? They most certainly did not. At least the Hurricanes fired former athletic director Blake James before making Godfather offers to one of the best potential administrators in the business in Clemson’s Dan Radakovich.

But who exactly were those bosses? The hand-picked kitchen cabinet members from university president Julio Frenk? The massive and unwieldy Board of Trustees whose “emereti” members include Gloria Estefan and Bernie Kosar? The boosters to the program, including a podcast producer who kicked the tail of everyone covering this story from the jump?

Who the heck knows. But in a cycle where “alignment” has been the buzzword across so many universities making football coaching hires, it seems that UM still has a long way to go to get there. Perhaps Mario Cristobal and Radakovich can get everyone on the same page pulling in the same direction. But that might be a more Herculean task than getting No. 1-ranked recruiting classes again.

To understand the history of Miami as a city, you have to know it has been an unending boom-and-bust cycle since it was a sleepy hamlet at the end of the train tracks. South Beach was an abandoned islet of nothing before it became the home of more beaches, booze, and beautiful people than any other slice of the planet. Brickell went vertical with no regard for how people living 50 stories on top of their neighbors could leave Brickell without a mass of traffic. Just grow fast, and figure out the rest later.

That applies to the football program as well. From embers of repeated failure came Howard Schnellenberger, who begat Jimmy Johnson, which made The Brand one of the best in sports. The U was swag, Starter jackets, and a dump of a stadium that was the toughest place to play college football.

But that era begat probation and scholarship reductions and a crash, which Dennis Erickson and then Butch Davis built into another boom cycle. And since Larry Coker left nearly two decades ago, the market has crashed deeper and harder than ever before, forever symbolized by what happened in the last moments before yet another a real estate hustle pushed the broken program out of town.

Will Miami get it right this time? They’ve thrown more cash at the problem than ever, and are paving over their previous mistakes with dollars. That’s just how it’s done in South Florida. And it tends to work out usually, at least for a little while, and especially for those on top of the pyramid scheme.

But the bill always comes due eventually, and when it does it’s often everyone else that gets left holding the bag. #BecauseMiami.