WVU’s Rodriguez to leave for Michigan

By Scott Finn  

WVU Football Coach Rich Rodriguez is leaving to take over as head coach at the University of Michigan.  

Michigan athletic officials confirmed that Rodriguez was leaving WVU on Sunday afternoon. Earlier Sunday, Rodriguez announced his decision to his players, according to several players at the meeting.  

Rodriguez himself has declined to comment. But Michigan officials say they will introduce Rodriguez as their new head coach at a 9 a.m. press conference Monday.  

As of Sunday afternoon, Rodriguez still hadn’t told WVU President Mike Garrison or athletic director Ed Pastilong about his decision.   

In a prepared statement, Garrison said, “Above all, we will bring into our program only people who understand and value the incredible opportunity that it is to be the head coach of the WVU Mountaineers—a team that represents not just our University, but the entire state of West Virginia.”  

Rodriguez, 44, is a native of Grant Town and has deep roots in West Virginia. He had a record of 60 wins and 26 losses in seven seasons at WVU.  

This year, the team was ranked as high as second and briefly was favored to go to the national championship, until unranked Pitt upset the team earlier this month.  

It won’t be cheap for Rodriguez to leave WVU. His contract includes a $4 million buyout clause. That means someone will have to pay WVU $4 million over the next two years for Rodriguez to break the contract.  This is the second time Michigan has raided WVU for coaching talent in the last year.

Earlier this year, the Wolverines hired WVU basketball coach John Beilein.  Beilein had a $2.5 million buyout clause, but WVU and Michigan officials agreed to reduce that to $1.5 million.

Andrew Bernstein of Charleston blamed it on the loss to Pitt. 

“I’d say it had everything to do with it. If we beat Pitt, he stays. There’s no way he can leave going into a national championship game. Now, that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t have done the same thing next year if things didn’t go exactly to plan,” he said. “I just don’t think he can take criticism. I think that he ran out of town at the first sign of something going badly.”

For Chris Weikle of Scott Depot, it’s not just about football. It’s about the whole country’s attitude toward West Virginia. 

“You would think that someone like Coach Rodriguez, who was born in Grant Town, small-town West Virginia…he should have stayed, he should have realized how much people care about the university, how much we care about the state,” he said. “It may be a better job, he’ll probably get paid more money, but it’s just what everybody thinks, that West Virginia’s not good enough. And he’s wrong.”

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2 Comments on “WVU’s Rodriguez to leave for Michigan”

  1. vontos Says:

    Heh, I became a WVU basketball and football fan over the past few years because of their styles of play. Now I’m sad because I’m from Illinois and can’t possibly become a fan of Michigan.

  2. Ron Says:

    There might be something to Rodriguez leaving because of the Pitt game. I mean Pitt might as well have had the WVU playbook! Pat White is a great QB for the read option but it got to be the run only option. What happened to the short screens and outs Slayton was running during the first of the year. You don’t have the time to hand Steve the ball in the back field with nine guys comming off the line. What happened to the short pops to Owen Schmitt or the ends. Both losses this year revealed the weakness of the spread as run by Rodriguez in those games the biggest being the unwillingness to use all of what you have. Both South FL and Pitt stayed with WVU long enough to drain the D and move in for the kill and Rodriguez stayed with the game plan. WVU has a boat load of talent on both sides of the ball, two deep!
    I kinda think Rodriguez just expected to win because he should have against Pitt and when he didn’t he…that’s right….jumped ship.
    Ok he’s gone and I wish him the best. It was good while it lasted. Now we need a hungry coach and we need to get behind the EERS for the Bowl game. (A BCS Bowl at that. )

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