Former George Mason Head Basketball Coach, Jim Larranaga, is headed to The U.
This is fairly surprising on multiple levels. First of all, I think conventional wisdom around college basketball was that Larranaga was very comfortable at George Mason and really had no intention of leaving. After leading the Patriots to the Final Four in 2006, he was one of the most sought after coaches in the country–much like Brad Stevens and Shaka Smart were this year. He rebuffed offers from multiple major conference schools, including Providence, his alma mater. All of those offers presumably would have paid him more money than he was making at GMU even after getting a substantial raise. Now, five years later, he’s ready to move on.
The other surprising part here is that Miami is where Larranaga is choosing to jump. This is a basketball program that will always be in the shadow of the football team and hasn’t had much of a history of success. They couldn’t keep their previous coach, Frank Haith, in town despite his very, very
mediocre mildly successful run as their head man. They couldn’t entice Tommy Amaker away from Harvard. Now, they are getting a very well respected coach in Jim Larranaga who has gotten his mid-major program to the tournament consistently and has taken them deep. How much must they be paying this guy???
This move kind of reminds me of the Kendrick Perkins trade this season in the NBA. Apparently when Perk was traded to the Thunder, a host of other franchises were upset that they didn’t even know he was available and admitted that they would have given up more to get him. How must some of these other programs who have been in a coaching search this offseason feel? The ADs at NC State, Georgia Tech, Missouri, and Tennessee must have spit out their coffee this morning reading this.
“What!?! Larranaga was available? And we’re stuck with Mike Gottfried? Wait, hold on. That can’t be right. Is that a typo? Seriously, the room is spinning right now. Miami? Is the NCAA investigating this? If I get fired because of this I will NOT be happy.”
Things just got a little more interesting in the ACC for the next few years. Many people–myself included–assumed that Miami was doomed for a desperation hire after leaving the position vacant for this long. Well, if that was the case, this is just about the best desperation hire I’ve seen in quite some time.