MIAMI (AP) — Ron Turner is going back to the college sideline.
Florida International hired Turner as its football coach Thursday night, signing him to a five-year deal with a base salary of $500,000 annually. FIU director of sports and entertainment Pete Garcia said he received a faxed copy of the signed contract and that Turner would be in Miami for an introductory news conference Friday afternoon.
Turner — most recently the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ quarterbacks coach — replaces Mario Cristobal, who was fired last month.
“This guy knows football,” Garcia said. “He’s the best quarterback coach in America, college or pro. So I’m very excited to get this guy. He’s one of the best offensive minds in America. This guy’s a total package. He can do it all.”
It will be Turner’s first trip back to the college game since he was fired by Illinois in 2004, three seasons after taking the Illini to what was their first Big Ten title in a decade. Illinois went to the Sugar Bowl after that 10-2 season in 2001 and Turner was Big Ten coach of the year.
Illinois won only nine of its next 34 games under Turner, including just one Big Ten game in a two-season span. He left Illinois with a 35-57 record in eight seasons.
Still, Garcia was thrilled to get Turner, pointing to his role in working with elite NFL players like Peyton Manning (he was an offensive position coach with the Indianapolis Colts at the time) and Devin Hester (when Turner was the Chicago Bears’ offensive coordinator).
“I’m very excited about this hire,” Garcia said.
Cristobal was 27-47 at FIU, though won a Sun Belt championship in 2010 and took the Panthers to their first two bowl games — plus was widely credited for turning around a troubled program that had lost 23 straight games in one stretch. Injuries played a role in the Panthers finishing 3-9 this season.
Garcia said he consulted with current Indianapolis coach Chuck Pagano, Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano and Bucs’ special assistant Butch Davis before hiring Turner.
“They all said the same thing,” Garcia said. “They all told me this was the guy we had to get.”
FIU will be the 10th college program Turner will be involved with coaching, with some of the others including USC, Stanford, Pitt and Arizona, all as either a position coach or coordinator. He also was San Jose State’s head coach in 1992, going 7-4 before leaving to join the Bears’ coaching staff.
Turner is the brother of Norv Turner, who was fired as coach of the San Diego Chargers this week.