Jim Larranaga, the 61 year-old head basketball coach of the George Mason Patriots, is heading to Miami to take on the task of rebuilding the Hurricanes basketball program. Wait, what?
"Jim Larranaga, who led the George Mason men's basketball program to national prominence after its stirring run to the Final Four in 2006, is leaving the Fairfax school to become the head coach at the University of Miami. ...
Since the Patriots' season ended, Larranaga and George Mason had been engaged in talks concerning a contract extension, university officials said. He also had conversations regarding improved contracts for his staff, sources said.
"It's not about the money," one source said Thursday. "It's about showing a little love."
Let me echo my fellow ACC bloggers in saying that the move seems a little more than surprising on the surface. I understand that Larranaga wasn't "feeling the love" from George Mason, but he's 61 years old and running out of the sort of time needed to properly rebuild Miami's program. It seems like the rebuilding will take more than a couple of years on the surface.
Don't get me wrong. Larranaga is a solid coach. He's taken a relative unknown -- George Mason -- to the NCAAs three times in six years, including the incredible Final Four run in 2006. The Patriots won the CAA regular season title and handed Villanova its ~25th consecutive loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, before bowing to Ohio State.
Miami has some pieces in place -- Durand Scott, Reggie Johnson -- and could become more competitive with Larranaga in charge. The Canes are by no means a basketball-first school. But maybe with Larranaga recapturing a bit of that George Mason magic, combined with a new AD, Miami can become a bit more competitive in hoops.
That's a good thing for BC and the rest of the ACC. The hope is that Larranaga gets Miami to a point where it can be competitive so that it raises the profile of ACC basketball. Miami has been one of the worst programs in the conference the last five seasons, going just 29-51 in ACC play (.363).
We want the Canes to be competitive, but not too competitive. We don't need Miami continuing its winning ways over Boston College. I preferred it much better when BC rattled off 13 straight wins over the U from 2001-2008, and didn't really care much for getting swept by the 'Canes this season.