Rodriguez Clams Up About Michigan

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez again refused to discuss Michigan's vacant coaching job on Saturday.

At the opening of a previously scheduled news conference about No. 11 West Virginia's trip to the Fiesta Bowl, Rodriguez said he would only talk about the game against No. 3 Oklahoma.

“I'm not going to address the rumors or anything of that nature," Rodriguez said. "If any questions are asked about that, the press conference will be over."

Rodriguez arrived back in Morgantown on Friday with his wife after taking a flight from Ohio. He said he was going to practice, then got into his car.

Sporting News Radio reported, citing unidentified sources, Rodriguez and his agent were in Toledo to talk with Michigan athletic director Bill Martin and university president Mary Sue Coleman.

West Virginia players and coaches appeared in good spirits after practice Friday and said Rodriguez discussed nothing about Michigan.

"Beat Oklahoma, that's it," said linebacker Bobby Hathaway. "There's nothing else to hear."

Michigan, which lured basketball coach John Beilein away from West Virginia last April, is looking for a replacement for football coach Lloyd Carr, who announced his retirement Nov. 19 after 13 seasons.

West Virginia athletic director Ed Pastilong said he was unaware Rodriguez, who has a hefty buyout clause in his contract, was in Toledo.

"He has not shared that with me," Pastilong told The Associated Press on Friday.

Pastilong would not say whether West Virginia had given Michigan permission to talk to Rodriguez, citing university policy.

When asked further whether he knew Rodriguez was talking to Michigan, Pastilong said, "Rich has not mentioned anything of that nature to me. Secondly, we have a strong commitment with Rich, a strong contract. We're strongly committed to him and he's strongly committed to us.

"I think it would be unusual that he would be doing that without sharing it with us."

Michigan athletic department spokesman Bruce Madej said he was unaware of any talks. On the day Carr announced he was stepping down, Martin said he hoped to complete the hiring process quickly.
But LSU coach Les Miles withdrew from consideration before he was scheduled to meet with Martin and signed a contract extension with the Tigers. Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said last week after being contacted about the Michigan job that he was staying with the Scarlet Knights.

After a 13-9 loss to Pittsburgh in the regular-season finale knocked West Virginia out of the national championship game, Rodriguez said he wasn't going to be on the move.

"The impact of your name being thrown about is sometimes a little overrated. It probably makes for a lot of angst among families and we don't want that," he said. "Sorry but you all are stuck with me here."

Rodriguez has a 60-26 record at West Virginia. The Big East champion Mountaineers (10-2) play No. 3 Oklahoma (11-2) next month in the Fiesta Bowl.

Last December, Rodriguez agreed to a one-year contract extension through 2013 after he turned down a lucrative offer from Alabama. The extension includes a $4 million buyout clause if he leaves before August 2008. That doubles the amount from the previous contract.

Beilein had a $2.5 million buyout clause in his West Virginia contract, but under an agreement with the university he agreed to pay $1.5 million to the WVU Foundation for leaving for Michigan with five years remaining in his contract.

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