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Miami Hurricanes

Mark Richt and Jim Larranaga are cut from the same cloth

Ari Russell

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(USA Today - Steve Mitchell)

Spring practices aren’t here quite yet for the football team so we can get to the QB competition when the time comes. Right now we can officially call it March Madness as conference tournament play is officially underway. For the Miami Hurricanes basketball team, they are currently in New York City getting ready for the ACC Tournament which is being played in the Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn.

The Canes come in as the #3 seed as they await their opponent for Thursday night. The success of the hoops team and the resurgence this past season of the football program have taken place because both Mark Richt and Jim Larranaga are cut from the same cloth.

I remember back in 2011 when Missouri saved our basketball program by hiring away Frank Haith opening up the head coaching position. I was excited because though Haith was always very nice to me personally I didn’t think he was a great fit, and his lack of results proved it.

When I heard that Miami had hired Jim Larranaga from George Mason, I was absolutely ecstatic. I was familiar with him being a DC native and watched from press row when he took GMU to the final four at the Verizon Center (Think it was still MCI Center back then) with their win over UCONN.

Basically I knew that our basketball program would turn around fast and boy did it ever. Not only is Larranaga a great recruiter but he also is one of the best developers of talent in all of college hoops and we are seeing the results. After several successful years the hoops program sold out their season tickets for back to back season.

Larranaga is known to personally go around campus promoting the team talking to students to hype them up. Everyone at this point is familiar with his positive pre game and half time speeches and his post game dances.

Down a few offices is head football coach Mark Richt. In his second season he was able to finally have Miami win the coastal division in the ACC for the first time since joining the conference in 2004. There are high hopes for Miami to contend for a conference title again this season as they bring in a top 10 recruiting class.

Between the turnover chain and the improvement from one year to the next, Miami home games are once again exciting to go to. People who were at Miami’s blowout win over Notre Dame at Hard Rock Stadium said that the noise reminded them of when Miami used to dominate foes at the Orange Bowl.

Miami athletics now have two head coaches that understand the landscape of their respective sports and have had tremendous track records. I’m actually a firm believer that Jim Larranaga’s success with the basketball program helped Richt with the football program.

When you have a high tide in one sport, it certainly can raise the ship in another sport. Though Richt had come in with his previous success at Georgia, it certainly helps to have an enthusiastic coach in another sport going around campus hyping students about athletics.

Richt is also extra enthusiastic because he gets to do all of this at the school he has a degree from and where he played his college ball. Larranaga is just enthusiastic in general, but he’s older in his twilight, so what is there not to be excited about.

As a Miami Hurricane apologist I have to say I’m excited to see what the hoops squad can do in Brooklyn and beyond in the NCAA tournament. I have no doubt a deep tournament run can only help the football program. And a successful football team can only help the hoops squad. It’s a very symbiotic relationship.

Born in the Nation’s Capital, Washington D.C., Ari Russell watched the rise of the 1980’s Miami Hurricanes and knew that he had to be part of the “U” someday. After graduating from Coral Gables, Ari rose through the ranks of the former XM Satellite Radio and then Sirius/XM as college football executive producer. He later spent 2 seasons as the publisher of the website “Beyond U Sports” focusing on major college football/basketball. Ari brings a great perspective on everything Miami, including the Dolphins to F.F.I.

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