CLEVELAND, OH - MARCH 18: Head coach Jim Larranaga of the George Mason Patriots geustures from the bench during the game against the Villanova Wildcats during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Quicken Loans Arena on March 18, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Hey, look, a diversion from Day 25 of Jordan Watch! This offseason's ACC coaching carousel hasn't been quite as active as last year's, but between the Gary-Yow showdown and Jim Larranaga taking the Miami job, it's had its fair share of surprises.
Oh, yeah, you read that correctly: Jim Larranaga is heading to Miami. And no, you're not crazy if you think it's a strange move.
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."
I was a little shocked initially. Larranaga's in a great situation at George Mason, at least on the surface, and at 61 he's running out of time to do the kind of long, drawn-out rebuilding job that Miami would require. There's not a lot in Coral Gables: average-at-best facilities, a non-existent fanbase, minimal local talent (SoFla is a football area), no tradition or history of success, little administrative support, and stiff in-conference competition.
But the more I thought about it, the more sense it made, assuming he really was at-odds with the George Mason admin. There's potential at Miami. The presence of Durand Scott proves that Miami can recruit top-notch talent (really) despite its faults. A new athletic director plus a new hire in basketball could mean more administrative support in the future. There's the allure of South Beach, the LeBron effect, and it's even still a cool school thanks to the mystique of The U. Maybe most importantly for Larranaga, it's also the ACC, which equates to both exposure and a TV deal. Maybe he was just get tired of being the underdog all the time.
Besides, there's actually quite a bit of talent in there right now, with Scott and maybe Reggie Johnson forming quite the core. If he can work his magic quickly, Miami will be on the NCAA bubble next year.
Miami isn't really a sexy job, but it's one with enough potential for the right guy. This may just be me, but taking out recent performance it's a better job than Virginia Tech, and Greenberg's done pretty well for himself down in Blacksburg.
This is doubly good news, if you ask me. Larranaga's the type of guy who will make Miami competitive, if not downright good. He's also not Frank Martin, whose tenure in Miami would end in: A) too much success for it to be considered good news by Maryland fans, or B) heavy NCAA violations. Both of those are bad for us. We want Miami to be good, but not that good. Hopefully Larranaga hits that sweet spot.
And yes, this passes for news nowadays.