Rodriguez fires Michigan assistant coaches
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Rich Rodriguez fired Michigan's assistant coaches Thursday, his second day as an employee of the school.
Rodriguez met with the coaches one by one at Schembechler Hall, as retiring coach Lloyd Carr packed up his belongings in boxes, clearing space for his successor.
"I can understand that he wants to bring in the people that have been with him for years," defensive coordinator Ron English told The Associated Press after having dinner with the coaching staff. "But when you lose your job, it's hard."
Michigan athletic director Bill Martin declined comment.
Carr will coach the Wolverines on Jan. 1 against Florida in the Capital One Bowl, ending his 13th season as their head coach and then Rodriguez will take over.
But the former West Virginia coach already put his mark on the program by firing each of Carr's assistants, all of whom were given two-year deals in March that will pay them through Feb. 28, 2009. Their firings are effective after the bowl game.
English was fired along with Mike DeBord, offensive coordinator; Fred Jackson, wide receivers and associate head coach; Erik Campbell, wide receivers and assistant head coach; Vance Bedford, defensive backs; Scot Loeffler, quarterbacks; Andy Moeller, offensive line; Steve Stripling, defensive line; and Steve Szabo, linebackers.
While helping Michigan prepare to play the Gators, the assistant coaches are free to pursue other jobs. If they don't land a job, they will still be paid by the school.
Before news of the firings broke Thursday night, several players were made available for interviews about the Capital One Bowl and some seemed to have a good impression of their future coach after he watched them practice twice this week.
"Rodriguez could come in and kind of be a distraction for us and want to talk about what he wants to do and talk about next year, but he really hasn't," cornerback Morgan Trent said. "He understands we're trying to win a game here."
Rodriguez started his new job Wednesday by watching Michigan practice.
He was introduced as Carr's replacement on Monday morning and then returned to West Virginia later that day. His resignation as the Mountaineers' coach was moved up from Jan. 3 to midnight Tuesday.
Details and payment of Rodriguez's $4 million buyout in his West Virginia contract must still be worked out. His agent, Mike Brown, said Rodriguez's previous comment -- "The lawyers are working on it" -- still stands and declined Wednesday 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 Martin, who did not respond to a question about the deal via e-mail on Thursday. A message seeking comment was left with Martin.
Rodriguez will not coach the Mountaineers against Oklahoma on Jan. 2 in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press