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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.