MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Former Miami Hurricanes player and national champion Mario Cristobal has returned home.

On Tuesday, he was introduced as the new head coach of the Hurricanes football team, replacing Manny Diaz.

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From the moment he appeared at UM’s Hecht Center, Mario Cristobal was greeted like a politician who had just won an election.

Once he took the podium, the man who cut his teeth in orange and green seemed overwhelmed by the moment of taking over as head coach where he played his college football.

“I’m honored and humbled, in ways words can hardly describe,” Cristobal told a huge throng at his introductory news conference.

As he spoke, Cristobal’s football passion poured out, as he talked about ushering in a new era of UM football, and his plans to revive a once-proud dynasty that lately has fallen short.

‘We gotta bring it in tight because when the ‘U’ brings it in, there is nothing like it,” the new coach said. “We want to be sure that people are always proud of this program for the right reasons. We want to be the team that nobody wants to play.“

The University of Miami was that team when Cristobal played for it about thirty years ago. But then, the kid from Columbus High school had to spread his football wings to learn how to coach.

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From FIU to Alabama to Oregon, Cristobal soaked up methods of success that he is certain will work in Coral Gables.

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The throng of well-wishers at Cristobal’s introduction included former players like Brett Rhomberg and Joaquin Gonzalez who helped build the U-M brand. They see Cristobal as the real deal.

“A lot of respect for him, for sure. And I have a feeling that the accountability factor here will now go through the roof.”, said Romberg.

Gonzalez called it “a proud day, and is a sign that U-M football is again on the right path. “

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Cristobal played at Miami, was part of the 1989 and 1991 title-winning teams, and returned to the Hurricanes to start his coaching career as a graduate assistant under Butch Davis in 1998.

Jim Berry