George Mason fans are rightfully stunned that Jim Larranaga has decided to leave the school after 14 years to take over the job at the University of Miami. You could call this "The Program That Larranaga Build," and to see him leave now after rejecting so many high-major jobs in the past is a complete shock.
But it's happening, so it's time to come to terms with everything. Once Mason fans do that, they can at least take solace in this fact: their coaching opening has got to be one of the most coveted ones you can imagine.
For one thing, the school is playing in an up-and-coming conference in the CAA. Shaka Smart's NCAA Tournament run and subsequent new contract at VCU may have pushed Larranaga away for more money, but it also gave the league yet another massive exposure and financial boost. Imagine what George Mason did in 2006 for the league. Now, imagine that effect again. That's what whichever coach takes this job will get if he takes it.
For another, George Mason is going to be really, really good next season. The Patriots were the best team in the CAA regular season last year and only lose two key players from their rotation. Cam Long and Isaiah Tate will be missed, but the Patriots will bring back Luke Hancock, Ryan Pearson, Andre Cornelius, Mike Morrison and Vertrail Vaughns. That's a phenomenal starting lineup on paper, isn't it? Given how much VCU and Old Dominion will lose, George Mason has to be massive favorites to win the CAA again no matter who coaches them. In a lot of ways, George Mason is probably a better job than Miami.
Of course, there's just one problem: which available coaches are left to fill this vacancy?