Jim Larranaga to leave George Mason, accept Miami head coaching job

Gary Parrish of the CBSSports.com and Jeff Goodman of Fox Sports have confirmed that Jim Larranaga is taking the Miami job.

The news came as a bit of a shock to the Mason nation yesterday.  I certainly didn’t see this coming, especially after Larranaga turned down the Providence job for the 2nd time.  The move is a little puzzling to the college basketball community because the University of Miami isn’t exactly a better coaching job despite being an ACC opportunity.  Larranaga is leaving behind a potential Top 30 team in next year’s Patriots and at 61 is taking on the task of rebuilding a struggling ACC program.

Almost every member of the seems to be scratching their head as to why now and why Miami. He’s had opportunities to coach in power conferences before at much more established programs.  The Miami job is arguably the worst one in the ACC in terms of program support and fan attendance.  Does he really care that much about newer facilities at this stage of his career? Perhaps the move is strictly about money.

This whole speaks to the George Mason administration. Gary Parrish said “it got nasty between Jim  and athletic director Tom O’Connor at the end. Both egos played a role”. Larranaga has talked about resources before in his career and it was the reason he left Bowling Green for Fairfax back in 1997.  He’s resources were being cut there and who knows if something like that is happening here.  For instance where is the basketball practice facility the school talked about almost two and half years ago? I wouldn’t be surprised if Larranaga was promised things back in 2006 and then again in 2008 that didn’t quite materialize.  There was a clause in his contract that stated the school would spend $150K a year to promote the of the program. Aside from a funny cartoon YouTube that went semi-viral I’d love to see how exactly that money was spent.

In the end it’s about getting paid. Larranaga is at the end of his career and just saw a 2nd year fellow CAA coach get $500K more in annual base salary then him after doing exactly what he did in 2006. It’s not about winning, he has done that already it’s about him doubling his salary when he has the opportunity.  People will say he’s looking for a challenge, as if bringing George Mason out of the basement of the CAA wasn’t enough of a daunting task especially when you think of what this program was like back in 1997.

Larranaga is responsible for the George Mason program you now see that will most likely be a Top 30 team unless a bunch of guys transfer. The program obtained some brand recognition over the last couple of years and he really built something great here in Fairfax.  It’s sad to seem him go as he has been the face of George Mason basketball but this was going to happen sooner or later.  The head coaching job at Mason is now one of the most coveted currently available so at least we aren’t searching for a new coach during a rebuilding process.

  • ByGeorge06

    I AM SPEECHLESS!

  • c hirsch

    Trying my best not to be pissed because of all he did for us, but man, this sucks.

  • audrey

    hes 61. no property tax in florida. its a nice retirement situation

  • http://twitter.com/burythemfast burythemfast

    Despite having followed this from when it broke last night, I’m still stunned. Why Miami? Maybe he’s running from something–Merten’s retirement, perhaps, or something in the AD we don’t know about? Or maybe he just got tired of the cold winters?

    I want to thank him for what he gave to the program, but can’t bring myself to do it just yet. This is… shocking, to say the least.

  • Jmckend1

    Screw it. It was gonna happen eventually. Lookin out for #1.

  • Jmckend1

    There’s better coaches out there, not many, but there are. Just gotta see who is willing to talk.

  • c hirsch

    My guess is money, Merten leaving, retirement coming sooner rather than later.

  • Rmjank

    If this is his big payola, he deserves it. And he gets the chance to raise a program from the ashes and take on Duke/UNC. UM isn’t doing so hot in football these days, maybe they’re looking to invest in hoops more heavily.

    That’s it, that’s the only positive stuff I can say. Everything else is a heavy feeling in my gut.

    I agree with the buzz going round that there might be something going on program-wide at Mason. Hope it’s not too awful, whatever it is. And I sure hope the powers that be have a game plan for a successor coach.

  • http://twitter.com/BrianSPatterson Brian Patterson

    Thats unfortunate, but I’m still holding out to a sliver of hope since its not official yet. I think your points in the previous post about why this could be happening make a lot of sense…

  • Justin

    Completely saddened and disappointed. Feels like the program is taking a huge step backwards w/his departure…so bummed! Any idea who might replace him / in the running?

  • Anonymous

    There goes recruiting opportunities to replace Whack.

  • PiMpJoOsE

    Coach L will leave us one day. If this is the best time to transition (from the University’s perspective … no more outbound transfers and no decommits), I’m fine with it.

    Coach L owes GMU nothing and has certainly earned the right to follow his own path at any time he chooses. If someone was willing to double my pay and move me to Florida as I am nearing retirement, I’d find that hard to resist.

    Thanks, Bon Voyage, and can we get a few home-and-homes until you officially retire?

  • Mkaufman1

    Rumors swirling on Twitter about possible replacements: Bruce Pearl is at the top of O’Connor’s list…

  • emjay613

    I’m gutted. I wish him well and I hope Caputo gets the job.

  • c hirsch

    Official via Tom O’Connor now. I don’t want Bruce Pearl’s shadiness near the program.

  • 3Rings

    If they hire Mike Lonergan this could prove to be a great move for GMU.

  • BatMason

    You’re out of your mind. Bruce Pearl? A guy who made over 1mil a yr in base salary is going to come take coach L’s job w/ a base of half that and no practice spot except the RAC? I was at the RAC working out last week and I heard a page come over the intercom because the management had to force a pick-up game off of the soft court where the team has to practice. The team that changed the NCAA tourney and is set to change the CAA has to compete w/ pick up basketball games for practice space?… It isn’t hard to tell I’m furious. Mason has this notorious rap for being the whipping boy out of the schools in the area academically, and the one thing they have going for them is their bball program. Mason administration screwed themselves when they blew smoke up Coach L’s butt about a practice facility and didn’t take the concerns he had for his coaching staff’s salaries seriously. It’s bad business to mislead someone like that. Period. But hey it’s just Mason right? The bball program really helped me have a lot more respect for this school. The price to keep Coach L would have been an insignificant fraction of what he has given to this school in the past and could have given in the future. This is a real damn shame.

  • Livinghisway

    Now maybe individuals will see what other team players saw all along, Larranaga has No conscience! He does what he wants to do to whom ever, with no accountability for his words.

  • BatMason

    idiot

  • Lewiste1991

    Yip! The sad part is Now, they need Whack….He just could have mention it, and may be he would have stayed, knowing he was leaving…………

  • http://twitter.com/Timstobrazil Tim McAndrew

    Now the question remains, who is GMU looking at to replace him?

  • BatMason

    you, not Coach L..haha

  • Mkaufman1

    Bruce Pearl. Sources say his rep has been contacted for preliminary discussions.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HON7K6ZDHMRTLIJJ77YUGTA5A4 James

    It hurts to see Coach L go, but I will still be proud of my school.
    Unless they hire Bruce Pearl or someone of his ilk. He’s dirty as they come, and he will hurt our school’s reputation. We will face sanctions, guaranteed.

    Bruce Pearl would be bad for George Mason.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HON7K6ZDHMRTLIJJ77YUGTA5A4 James

    So sad. I understand Coach L doing what he needs to do for his family and his future–he was doing well, but it’s not like he was making Coach K money. I hate to see him go, and I think he will regret this decision. I wish Mason would have ponied up the extra cash, but being a state school on a budget, I guess they could only do so much (though VCU sure found the money).

    I hope our players stay. We could have a great squad that a really good coach could take to the Final 4. But if they leave…

    It’s just so sad. Coach L and GMU basketball belong together. It’s so strange and weird to think of him being anywhere except on our sideline.

  • c hirsch

    He didn’t even start talking to Miami about the job until yesterday.

  • overrated14

    Good for Coach L. Time to move on and take on new challenges. Let’s face it, he was getting to be rather predictable and stagnant. Maybe the sunshine and “flavor” of Miami will re-energize him and he will come up with new offensive and defensive strategies and new ways to motivate his players. I wonder how Hancock is taking the news? Larranaga certainly made him look really good!

  • CoachW

    I think Mason Nation should be happy with the success that Jim brought to Fairfax and just look forward and try to keep the status as being a yearly CAA crown contender and NCAA participant going. Playing a couple more high profile games will help with that I would think — and continuing to recruit the DMV area would also be a smart move. Not sure if an outsider – big shot like B Pearl would have the same mindset – but who knows. I just know up here near me (Towson) – Pat Kennedy didnt do what we all thought he would when he arrived – with cache to his name – so we will see.

    Conversely – I wish him well – very nice guy – decent coach – seemed like a players coach type. I bet he could get Miami to the NCAA in a couple of years – but his ceiling for success is probably only so high there. Good luck

  • Jeff

    Both the President and the A.D. are retiring and ACC gigs don’t get offered everyday. Plus, Coach has a home in Florida and he’s making retirement plans. Sad, but understandable. Good luck.

  • Airgold10

    I have so much respect for Coach L, he brought so much to the program and embodies what George Mason University is about: an underdog school that you should never count out no matter the circumstances, whether in basketball or any other aspect in life. I am just as surprised he is actually leaving. I view this as Jordan going to the Wizards, it’s just an addendum to his career. Larranaga’s legacy will always will be at Mason, that is set in stone and will never change.

    At the same time, if Pearl ends up coming to Mason it wouldn’t be as bad as I think some people perceive it to be. Sometimes people who get a second chance (or more) are grateful for the opportunity and really flourish. People who get punched in the face like he did at UT for his recruiting infractions are actually the best people to work with. The have time to reflect, get humbled, feel the pain of the wrong things they did, hit rock bottom, and then have a resolve to do their best work forward if the are presented an opportunity.

    Pearl is 51, which is a good mix of experience and youth in the sense that he could be a head coach for the next 5-7 years. He has taken a team to a #1 ranking and took Tennessee to 2 Sweet 16s and an Elite 8 out of the last 6 years. He would recruit hard (obviously without creating infractions) which actually I think was one thing Larranaga failed to do. Coach L was the master of making less accomplished players play collectively as a unit, but I always felt like we never had ESPN top 100 talent type players coming to Mason. If Pearl could get high-major talent to come to Mason and get them to play “George Mason Basketball” in the sense of playing as a team, that would be explosive. Tommy Amaker did the same thing at Harvard after leaving Michigan, infusing his mid-major school with higher caliber players and making progress towards creating a high-major type program. We have a senior laden team next year, with a coach who really knows his X’s and O’s, we have a chance to do damage and surprise people.

    Just my thoughts, it would be interesting to hear other people’s thoughts on the matter.

  • Airgold10

    Bill Courtney would be an AWESOME hire!

  • VCU

    damn that sucks

  • Rmjank

    Assuming this was something Jim knew would happen in advance, he remained a class act until the end, always upholding the values of Mason and the CAA. The U has had a bit of a checkered history, so this ought to add a large dose of integrity to the school.

    Competition-wise, I have long wondered why such a populous state like Fla, which provides enough bedrock football talent to supply Miami, UF, FSU and now USF has not had the same effect on Fla basketball programs (UF’s recent successes notwithstanding). I would think Coach L would have plenty to choose from down there, especially up and down the A1A coastline where he is just about the only game in town. It was a great heist for the U, probably a smart (and I would think emotional) move for Coach, and for us — well I haven’t heard the likes of this since the days of Ross Perot — a Giant Sucking Sound.

  • VT

    “UM isn’t doing so hot in football these days, maybe they’re looking to invest in hoops more heavily.”

    Football is a much more profitable sport than basketball. I don’t think that’s necessarily the reason. I agree that it’s probably all about retirement. However, I’m disappointed to see him go to Thug U.

  • http://profiles.google.com/mkaufman1 Matt K.

    You are nuts to not only use a handle very close to mine, but to think Bruce PEarl is going to come here.

  • http://profiles.google.com/mkaufman1 Matt K.

    Don’t be a moron

  • BatMason

    Would someone please explain to me how B. Pearl, B. Courtney, or any good coach for that matter, is going to come here and accept a salary that was 15% of what he was making at U Tenn. when our retard athletic director just went public saying that “GMU just can’t afford that type of salary (referring to Coach L’s new U Miami salary) without a big football program at our school” (paraphrasing)? If any of these great coaches do come here, it wouldn’t be for the money…and is that a likely scenario?

    Mason effed up. The face of the CAA is changing, in a few years the CAA may have several teams that dominate every year: Mason, VCU, ODU…very comparable to the ACC’s Duke & NC. In this event the top 2-3 schools within the CAA (considering the CAA’s impressive showing in the tourney this year) would likely get good looks for inclusion within the NCAA tourney every year. VCU realized this changing face of the CAA, stood up to the plate and payed their man what he deserves. When O’Connor blows smoke up coach L’s butt year after year, not completing the practice facility (which btw was given a $590,000 grant from Barnes & Noble to complete in 2008…so where is it?) and nickle/dimes him and his assisstant coaching staff, we are dooming ourselves for the future by strangling our program financially.

    The ONLY reason Mason is in the hearts and minds of the rest of the nation is because of that final four run and this basketball team. In fact, I just got an interview that lead to a job offer and during the phone interview the CEO and I were talking about Mason beating NOVA!!! The administration disrespected Coach L. and discounted his contributions not only to the basketball team but to the University as a whole. In reality they should have bent over backwards for this man. I could make a factual argument as to why Larranaga IS Mason! Since 2006: admissions go from 75% to 50%, 30+ new academic programs are added, 100s of millions of dollars of new buidlings are constructed. Coincidence?

    We need to fire this d-bag O’Conner if he wasn’t 100% on board with Coach L. getting as much as what the University would bear, and if the University wasn’t on board with it, then sorry we’re screwed and will probably end up with a mediocre coach, who has mediocre leverage at attracting new players which will further propogate the notion that Mason is a community full of dip-tards. The mindset of these people genuinely pisses me off. An extra .5 mil would have been a small price to pay to keep our image where it is and where it was heading.

  • Gio

    Mason will always be thankful for the professionalism, integrity, fighting spirit and accomplishments that Coach L brought to the school. That improbable run in 2006 will never be forgotten and that is by and large thanks to him. Very surprised to say the least but like most here have mentioned already, broken promises, ego’s and the smell of money made this decision very easy for him to leave. I wish him all the best as he will probably endure several losing seasons with Miami in the very competitive ACC. As for Mason, we must all move on as this would have happened inevitably. Hopefully we get someone just as good,if not better than Coach L. Mason is not about one person. Let’s get behind the team and support them. This chapter is now closed.

  • Bye Bye Larranaga

    Another reason for disliking Larranaga right now:

    “Larranaga, 61, said he decided to make the move because of the chance to coach in the Atlantic Coast Conference, which he considers the best basketball league in the country.”

    After listening to this guy talk about how the CAA and Mason are the best for the past several years, and now he’s going out and saying he thinks the ACC is the best, it reminds me of a politician. Tells his current crowd what they want to hear so he can get his way. In the end, it’s just feeding the people a bunch of BS. Congrat’s Larranaga, you have just been dropped down into the d-bag category.

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