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It's not all about the money for Larranaga

larranagablog.jpgGeorge Mason's Jim Larranaga is leaving for Miami and the ACC and apparently people are shocked. They are saying it's a money grab, one final paycheck for him (CBS' Gregg Doyel tweeted "Larranaga just got paid. He won't win at Miami, but this isn't about winning. It's about $.) Those who are saying that don't know Jim Larranaga very well.

Money is one of the last reasons he's leaving for Miami. Sure, he's seen Shaka Smart at VCU get a big contract, and probably wouldn't mind a little more dough. But that's not what Jim Larranaga is about.

He's about winning championships and developing student-athletes. I was a young student-reporter at Bowling Green State University when that school was smart enough to hire Larranaga to take over a tired men's basketball program. I covered him for several years and got to know him pretty well.

Even after I graduated and he left BG for George Mason, our paths crossed when I was the sports editor in Wilmington, Del., and Delaware joined the CAA. I was able to catch up with him at least once a year, and we'd talk about BG. The same remained true when I came to Baltimore and George Mason would play Towson.

Let's face it: Taking George Mason to the Final Four in 2006 was probably as far as he was going to take the Patriots. Winning a national championship at GMU was going to be nearly impossible.

Larranaga is 61, has coached George Mason for 14 years, and wants one last chance to win an NCAA title. He's also a former ACC guy, having been an assistant at Virginia under Terry Holland. I suspect that he wants to prove he can coach in the ACC, too.

The ACC just got a whole lot more interesting for Maryland. If Larranaga can turn Miami into a force, and there's no reason to think he won't (he's won everywhere he's been), then the Terps have another program to contend with outside of returning powers Duke, North Carolina and Florida State.

It's not the money that's driving Larranaga, it's the challenge. Winning an NCAA title would be the final addition to his resume. 

Comments

He outrecruited Gary Williams while here. Imagine what he could do at Miami.

Don't fool yourself. He is a good man but he wanted more money from Mason after VCU's Smart got a deal worth 2x as much as his contract. (and he is right, he deserves it.) but Mason won't pony up, and he did the right thing with Merten leaving. It is about the Monday.

The good thing is, he has banked is money so when Miami fires him in 3 years, he can retire comfortably.

Larranga a class act-- as a protege of Coach Holland at UVa and how could be be otherwise. Like Ron, this ain't 'bout the $-- this is about a coach who want to show "I can coach" on the big stage, more akin to how, once upon a time, a big bald guy from Duke coaching at Davidson decided to come to College Park....

Based on his comments about Gary Williams and Jim Larranaga, Gregg Doyel sounds like the Glenn Beck of college basketball media. Anything he says should be ignored.

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