Larranaga might leave George Mason for Miami? Hmm…

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This qualifies as a head scratcher.

George Mason coach Jim Larranaga emerged Thursday as a serious candidate for the Miami coaching position. How serious? The school not only granted him permission to speak with Miami about the job, he’s reportedly called a meeting with his players.  

That’s the last step usually made before a coach accepts the job.

If it happens, it’s an odd move. Larranaga, 61, has spent 14 years at George Mason. He’s led the school to a Final Four (2006), four CAA regular-season titles and three CAA tourney titles. The Patriots were 27-7 last season – the most wins in school history – and lose only two players from the squad.

That’s more success than Miami hoops has ever had.

So why make the move? It could be money.

Larranaga is under contract through the 2015-16 season and makes anywhere between $525,000 to $700,000 a season, depending on bonuses. Miami was paying former coach Frank Haith more than $1 million annually. Also, his assistants could be due a big pay raise at Miami.

And Miami would love to have him. From the Miami Herald:

Newly-hired UM athletic director Shawn Eichorst said he was looking for a basketball coach who preaches relentless defense, has a positive attitude and treats his players with “love and respect.”

 Larranaga fits the profile. He is beloved at George Mason, and seems happy there. He turned down overtures by his alma mater, Providence, in 2006 and has been mentioned for other jobs in recent years, as well, but chose to stay put.

It’s difficult to begrudge Larranaga for wanting a nest egg for himself and his assistants, especially in a warm climate at an ACC school. But leaving behind a stacked George Mason roster and a better job can’t be easy.

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