When Mario Cristobal took over the Florida International football program in 2007, it was coming off an 0-12 season. The Golden Panthers went 1-11 in Cristobal's first season, but he slowly built the program into a bowl-caliber outfit, and led FIU to a pair of bowl games, including the Beef O'Brady's Bowl last season. The school fired Cristobal after a 3-9 season in 2012, and in a recent radio interview, Cristobal said he was proud of what he accomplished there.
"We built this place, not from ground zero, but from a hole in the ground," Cristobal said. He also said he knew "nobody wanted to touch this thing" when he first took the job.
Florida International began playing football in 2002 and moved up to the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2005. Since then, the Panthers have been playing in the Sun Belt Conference, but they'll move on to Conference USA beginning next season.