Mario Cristobal issues statement

Given the news of the past 24 hours, it only seemed prudent for FIU coach Mario Cristobal to reaffirm his commitment to the Panthers.

Cristobal was tied to the Rutgers job on Monday and reportedly had begun contract negotiations to replace coach Greg Schiano. But ultimately he decided to stay with the program he has rebuilt himself, a program that won a Sun Belt title and been to back-to-back bowl games for the first time under his watch.

“It is a tremendous privilege to be the head coach at FIU," Cristobal said in a statement released Tuesday. "We have a great thing going here and I am excited about the future of the program. Over the past five seasons we have been building something special. Our success has gone beyond the field, as our student-athletes have also excelled academically on their way to earning a very valuable diploma. I am also proud of our team’s continued involvement in the community. My goal is to see this program continue to develop and grow into a major football power. I want our fans to know that I am dedicated to this goal.”

It was the second time in the past few months that Cristobal has been a leading candidate for another job. After Todd Graham left Pitt for Arizona State, Cristobal was a top choice for the Panthers.

“We are extremely pleased that Mario Cristobal has chosen to remain the head coach at FIU," said Pete Garcia, FIU executive director of sports and entertainment. "What Mario has accomplished over the past five seasons is exceptional. It has always been my goal to have the very best coaches here at FIU. Mario continues to shine as one of the brightest young coaches in the nation. Our football team continues to gain momentum on the national scene as a result of Coach Cristobal’s tireless work ethic and passion for this athletic department and university. With the support of our chairman of the board, board of trustees, president and the entire university, we will continue to build the athletic department and all of FIU to the highest levels attainable in higher education.”