Rodriguez starts job at Michigan as buyout issues continue

Updated: December 20, 2007, 10:00 AM ET
Associated Press

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Rich Rodriguez started his new job Wednesday by watching Michigan practice, while terms of his buyout at West Virginia remained unresolved.

Rodriguez was introduced as coach Lloyd Carr's successor with the Wolverines on Monday morning, then returned to West Virginia later that day. His resignation as the Mountaineers' coach was moved up from Jan. 3 to midnight Tuesday, a West Virginia spokesman said.

Details and payment of Rodriguez's $4 million buyout in his West Virginia contract still must be worked out. His agent, Mike Brown, said Rodriguez's previous comment, "The lawyers are working on it," still stands and declined to say whether the buyout clause would be contested.

Michigan and Rodriguez have agreed to the structure of a contract, but Brown deferred comment on a timetable for completing the deal to athletic director Bill Martin. A message seeking comment was left with Martin.

Carr will coach the Wolverines on Jan. 1 against Florida in the Capital One Bowl, then retire after 13 seasons as Michigan's head coach. Carr said Rodriguez would have all the access he wanted, welcoming him to watch practice as well as talk to Michigan assistant coaches and players.

Rodriguez said he didn't think it would be in his or West Virginia's best interest for him to coach the Mountaineers against Oklahoma on Jan. 2 in the Fiesta Bowl. Associate head coach Bill Stewart has been chosen West Virginia's interim coach.

"I think the players understand more than some of the general public," Rodriguez said Monday. "It's never easy. I mean, when is the right time or an easy time to leave a program? I don't think any coach will tell you there's a right, easy time."

Rodriguez was 60-26 in seven seasons at West Virginia, where he built the program into a Big East power with four titles in five years.

The 44-year-old Rodriguez said goodbye to the Mountaineers during an emotional meeting Sunday in Morgantown.

His agent hoped fans in West Virginia would appreciate what he did for the program, and not hold his move against him. That hasn't seemed to happen.

Rodriguez's wife, Rita, also a West Virginia native, hopes time will ease the hard feelings.

"Someone told us, 'You're never going to be able to come back to this state again!'" she said. "You hope at some point, people realize we're not rejecting the state of West Virginia. We just decided to make a career move."


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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