Baltimore Sun

It's not all about the money for Larranaga

George 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.