Sports Outside the Beltway

Rodriguez staying at WVU

Not a done deal after all, apparantly (link to previous OTB coverage).

Rich Rodriguez is not taking that Alabama job after all.

Rich Rodriguez will remain the head coach at West Virginia, a team source confirmed to’s Pat Forde.

Rodriguez met with his team at 3 p.m. ET to inform them of the decision.

Rodriguez was a top candidate for the vacant job in Alabama, meeting with school officials this week. Alabama athletic director Mal Moore also confirmed that Rodriguez had removed himself from consideration for that job.

Wow. I thought the last word had been written on this one. I, for one, am glad to keep Rodriguez at WVU: I like him being in the Big East with Pittsburgh.

An article from a local paper titled Rodriguez Stays explains further:

Rich Rodriguez has spurned a multi-million dollar offer from the University of Alabama and will remain the head football coach at West Virginia University. Rodriguez made the announcement during a team meeting this afternoon. Players roared in approval upon hearing the news.

Numerous media outlets, including ESPN and many in Alabama, had stories over the past 18 hours citing sources within the Crimson Tide athletic department that claimed a verbal agreement had been reach between Rodriguez and Alabama officials to become the new coach at UA. But WVU officials made a counter offer to Rodriguez, who holds a 49-24 record in his six seasons leading the Mountaineers, and the 43-year-old from Grant Town, W.Va., agreed to the new extension on Friday. Details for the new contract were not yet revealed. A press conference will take place at the Puskar Center at 5:30 p.m.

Rodriguez reportedly had received a seven-year contract offer from the University of Alabama in the neighborhood of $2.1 million per year.

I’d hate to be a Crimson Tide fan right now – that’s got to be worse than someone turning you down. I was suprised that Coach Rodriguez had taken the job myself – it just didn’t seem like a good fit for him. My guess is that he used the ‘Bama offer to coax WVU into giving him a better offer. I think that he’d rather be at WVU, since he has a track record there, and is less likely to be fired like Mike Shula was.

So the Alabama coach search continues, and West Virginia fans can rejoice that they are not losing their highly successful coach.

One wonders how the media got this one so wrong – there must have been something to the rumors of Rodriguez signing, but it must not have been as finished as they said. I know I was shocked when I read the headlines about Rodriguez staying, wondering at first if they were old news that had been superceeded by the Alabama hiring job. I haven’t seen them get it this wrong in a while.

One wonders about the damage this may do to his reputation, though. Rodriguez told his team he wasn’t leaving, and then negotiated with another program. While he is ultimately staying, I wonder if he will lose any respect because of this.

UPDATE (James Joyner): Brandon apparently found the story right before I did; we both wound up posting the ESPN story. The substantive comments from my post:

A shame for Alabama but quite likely the right move by Rodriguez. I always think coaches who leave jobs at big-time programs they came up in, like Steve Spurrier and Florida, wind up regretting the move.

There are plenty of great candidates out there and, with Miami having stayed in house, Alabama will have its pick.

I should note, for those coming to this page without context, that I’m an Alabama graduate (PhD, 1995) and a big fan. But I’d be just as happy with Navy’s Paul Johnson or Wake’s Jim Grobe as with Rodriguez. And neither of them would be leaving their home to take the job.

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