- Associated Press - Monday, January 30, 2012

Florida International football coach Mario Cristobal won’t be leaving to take over at Rutgers after the school pursued him to replace Greg Schiano, a person familiar with the decision said Monday.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither the coach nor the school had made their talks public.

The New York Times first reported Cristobal’s decision.

Schiano left Rutgers last week to become Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach, leaving the school scrambling for a replacement less than a week before national signing day.

The 41-year-old Cristobal, a former Rutgers assistant under Schiano, just completed his fifth season at FIU. He is 24-38 with the Panthers but has led the program to bowl games the past two seasons and a Sun Belt Conference title in 2010.

Now with signing day less than 48 hours away, Cristobal has decided to stay put.

Rutgers assistant coach Kyle Flood, who was promoted to interim coach at Rutgers when Schiano left, also has interviewed for the job and could be next in line for athletic director Tim Pernetti.

Flood, 41, has been a member of Schiano’s staff since 2005, coaching tight ends and offensive linemen and working his way up to assistant head coach in 2008.

“I’ve been working 19 years for this day,” Flood told reporters Saturday after meeting with recruits on campus. “I’m as ready as I’m ever going to be.”

Rutgers had lined up a potentially highly rated recruiting class before Schiano left. Flood and the rest of the staff were working over the weekend to keep the players who had verbally committed to the Scarlet Knights on board.

“The response from the recruiting class has been just tremendous,” Flood told reporters Saturday. “As of right now, everybody that’s committed to us from the beginning is still committed to us. We plan on keeping it that way.”

Schiano took Rutgers from being one of the worst programs in major college football to a consistent winner in the Big East. The Scarlet Knights have had winning seasons in six of the last seven years, gone 5-1 in bowl games and finished 9-4 last year. Most of the key players from that team will be back in 2012.


Follow AP College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP



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