For a coaching job that isn't exactly one of the most high-profile in NCAA basketball or even on the University of Miami's campus, the search for a new leader for the Hurricanes' next men's basketball team sure took a lot of twist and turns. Hampered by a concurrent search for an athletics director, and tons of buzz around Kansas State coach Frank Martin, the search has apparently led to George Mason University's Jim Larranaga. CBS Sports reports Larranaga has accepted the offer, and an official announcement is forthcoming.
Given Larranaga's success at the lowly GMU, it's a surprise no school from a bigger conference had scooped him up yet. He has winning records in 13 of his 14 seasons, five trips to the NCAA tourney, and one Cinderella run to the Final Four in 2006.
Considering Larranaga's name wasn't even on the radar a few weeks ago, the choice was most likely made by the school's new athletic director, Shawn Eichorst. He took the job only ten days ago but seems to have hit the ground running.
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However, many Miami fans will still be caught up in what could have been. Kansas State coach Frank Martin made several comments that implied he'd like to discuss the job at Miami. One anonymous source said Martin would "walk on coals" for the opportunity. But Martin was never called. Perhaps it was because of a recruiting scandal back in his days of coaching high school ball in Miami-Dade.
Martin was certainly more high-profile than Larranaga, but Larranaga has done something Martin hasn't: taken a team to the Final Four. It's not the fairest of comparisons considering Martin has been coaching only since 2007 and has taken his team to the NCAA tourney three times in that span. Though Martin is at a Big 12 school; Larranaga is in the CAA.
Perhaps the biggest apparent downside of Larranaga's hiring is his age. At 61, he's no spring chicken, and let's hope he's not coming to Miami simply because he heard it's a nice place to retire. We'll have to see if he's ready to keep up with the big dogs of the ACC and can make inroads into new recruiting grounds.