TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- When Alabama sought a new offensive line coach to replace Jeff Stoutland, it wanted a coach who had similar characteristics. And why not? His lines were integral parts of back-to-back national championships during his two-year stint with the Crimson Tide.
Stoutland built what many considered to be the best offensive line in college football last season, and all five starters from that unit are likely to get drafted one day -- and at least three could go in the first round.
So how does a team replace a coach like Stoutland?
Enter Mario Cristobal. Nick Saban wanted a coach who wouldn't be overwhelmed with the task of rebuilding the offensive line, a coach who could handle the pressure at Alabama and a coach who could make a smooth transition both on and off the field.
The former Miami assistant coach faced a much more difficult situation when he accepted the top position at Florida International six years ago. If anything, Cristobal would seem up for the challenge.
"He's a go-getter," Hialeah (Fla.) High School offensive coordinator Dennis Marroquin said. "He means business, and he obviously knows the area down here in South Florida."
Stoutland previously recruited South Florida, and Cristobal will do the same. They also have other similarities. Both coached the Hurricanes before coming to Tuscaloosa, an advantage when it comes to recruiting the area, and both like really big offensive linemen.
Alabama's offensive line in 2012 ranged from 6-foot-3 to 6-6 and from 300 pounds to 330.
Since Cristobal took over in February, the Tide have offered close to 10 offensive line prospects. All the targets are at least 6-3, and the majority have weighed more than 300 pounds. The name might have changed, but the philosophy remains the same.
However, it could be their differences that pay the biggest dividends for Cristobal.
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