Of all the coaches fired this year, Mario Cristobal might be the biggest surprise. (US Presswire)

It was only a year ago when Mario Cristobal was considered one of the hottest coaching prospects in the nation. Schools like Rutgers wanted him to leave his job at FIU and move on to bigger and better places, but no matter who came knocking, Cristobal chose to remain at Florida International.

But now FIU has decided to let Cristobal go. 

“Today we informed Coach [Mario] Cristobal that a change was being made in the direction of our football program," said FIU athletic director Pete Garcia in the official release. "I want to thank Coach for all that he has done to develop the football program over the past six seasons. We will now turn our attention to attract the very best candidate to fill the position of head coach. We will begin a national search immediately.”

Which is a surprising decision given Cristobal's status before the season began. He went only 27-47 in his six seasons at the school, but he literally helped build the program. Cristobal was only the second head coach in the school's history. After going 9-27 in Crostobal's first three seasons, FIU went 15-11 in 2010 and 2011, winning a Sun Belt title and appearing in two straight bowl games -- the school's first bowl games.

You'd think that achievement would buy Cristobal a little slack at the school, but it seems he couldn't survive a 3-9 mark in 2012.

The general public aren't the only people surprised by this news, either. An assistant coach at the school told CBSSports.com's Bruce Feldman that he was shocked by the news, as he's currently out on the road recruiting and doesn't know what he's supposed to do. There's even a recruit coming for an official visit on Wednesday and the staff has no idea what to tell him.

"We have no direction right now whatsoever," the coach told Feldman.

Where FIU goes from here remains to be seen, but odds are Cristobal won't have trouble catching on somewhere else.