Mario Cristobal’s 1st fall camp at Miami set to get underway

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

CORAL GABLES, Fla. — It is now an annual question at Miami, the official precursor to the start of a new football season for a program that was once a perennial national championship contender and hasn’t been at that level for two decades and counting.

“Is The U back?”

New Hurricanes coach Mario Cristobal has an answer: “The U is back to work,” the Miami alumnus said.

That back-to-work process started the moment when the private plane that carried Cristobal home from Oregon last December landed in Miami, began picking up speed as he assembled a staff and got into spring ball and hits a new level when the first Hurricanes’ preseason camp under the Miami native starts this week.

There are a slew of acclimation activities happening over the next few days. Expectations from an impatient fan base are always high at Miami, are higher now because of Cristobal’s presence and probably rose even more when the Hurricanes were installed last week as the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Coastal Division preseason favorite.

“Oh, I think we’ll handle that by the way we approach practice,” Cristobal said. “There’s no one in this organization that should be feeling like they’ve arrived. If anyone feels that way, they’re quickly going to change their perspective by the way that we approach practice.”

Cristobal inherited a program that went 7-5 last season, a schedule that was cut a game short because coronavirus-related issues kept Miami from its planned Sun Bowl appearance against Washington State. Miami has one 10-win season in the last 18 years, with just one bowl win since 2006, and still hasn’t won an ACC title.

He’s the latest coach tasked with changing that. Armed with incredible job security – a 10-year deal worth around $80 million – Cristobal came back to the school where he was an offensive lineman and played for teams that won national championships in 1989 and 1991.

Those are just some of the rings he has scattered around his office. Rings from his days as head coach at Oregon and an assistant under Nick Saban at Alabama are on the table as well, a massive haul of jewelry that shows what he’s about.

“When things were changing, we were kind of all scrambling,” tight end Will Mallory said. “We didn’t know what was going to happen. Coach Cristobal came in. We were fortunate to get him. Then week by week you kind of just saw the additions that he was making. It just gets you that much more excited. I wouldn’t want to play for anyone else for my last year.”

Cristobal did not come home with the notion that getting Miami back into championship mode was going to take a few months. There’s an obvious push to win now – quarterback Tyler Van Dyke, widely presumed to be entering the 2023 NFL draft, could be one of the nation’s best this season. But Cristobal is also building for the long haul; recruiting has gone extremely well in terms of commitments, and the plans for who to pursue in future years are already underway.

His office has stacks of papers, files and notes, everything from past game plans at other schools to breakdowns of the current Miami roster to plans for the future – both for building a team and building more buildings, something that’s a top priority for the Hurricanes.

Camp Cristobal starting this week is just another of many steps on the way back, he hopes, to the top.

“When people see this, it’s like a grenade went off,” Cristobal said, looking around his office. “But I love preparation. I love planning. This is the stuff I can do all day.”

Alabama suspends freshman defensive back after drug arrest

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama freshman defensive back Tony Mitchell has been suspended from the team following his arrest on a drug charge.

Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said Monday after the first practice of spring that Mitchell was suspended from the team “and all team activities until we gather more information about the situation and what his legal circumstance is.”

The Holmes County Sheriff’s Office arrested Mitchell and another man, Christophere Lewis, last week on a charge of possession of marijuana with the intent to sell or deliver, according to a post on the department’s Facebook page. Lewis also was charged with carrying a concealed gun without a permit.

“Everybody’s got an opportunity to make choices and decisions,” Saban said. “There’s no such thing as being in the wrong place at the wrong time. You’ve gotta be responsible for who you’re with, who you’re around and what you do, who you associate yourself with and the situations that you put yourself in. It is what it is, but there is cause and effect when you make choices and decisions that put you in bad situations.”

Mitchell, who is from Alabaster, Alabama, was a five-star prospect rated the 34th-best player and No. 3 safety in the 247Composite rankings.

Mitchell was driving the vehicle during a traffic stop. After deputies smelled marijuana, Mitchell picked up a baggie of marijuana from the passenger floorboard, according to the department’s Facebook post.

Sheriff’s deputies found “an additional significant amount of marijuana, a set of scales, a loaded handgun between the passenger seat and center console, and a large amount of cash,” according to the department’s Facebook post.

Missouri linebacker Chad Bailey suspended after arrest

Saul Young/News Sentinel/USA TODAY NETWORK

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Missouri linebacker Chad Bailey was suspended from the team after he was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, the team said.

The 23-year-old, who was a team captain last season, was booked at about 2:45 a.m. and released after posting $500 bond, according to online records from the Boone County Sheriff’s Office.

“We are aware of the situation involving Chad Bailey,” Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz said in a statement to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He’s been suspended according to Department of Athletics policy. We have high expectations for all of our student-athletes, on and off the field, and we will follow all departmental and campus policies.”

Bailey was Mizzou’s third-leading tackler with 57 stops last season. He started all 11 games he played, missing two with an injury. He’ll be a sixth-year senior this fall after opting to return for his final year of eligibility, the Post-Dispatch reported.

The Missouri student-athlete handbook says any athlete who is arrested must serve a minimum one-week suspension.

Bailey was pulled over at about 1 a.m. not far from the Columbia campus for an expired license plate and lane violation, a police statement said. Bailey told the officer he had consumed alcohol and then performed poorly on a field sobriety test, the Post-Dispatch reported.