Wolverines hire Mountaineers' Rodriguez

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan hired Rich Rodriguez away from his alma mater after failing to bring back one of its own.

Rich Rodriguez led West Virginia to a Sugar Bowl win in 2006. A man with ties to both the Wolverines and West Virginia might've helped.

College football's winningest program ended its coaching search Sunday, nearly a month after it started, by announcing Rodriguez would succeed retiring Lloyd Carr.

Rodriguez was scheduled to be introduced as the Wolverines' coach at a news conference Monday morning.

"I am thrilled to have Rich Rodriguez as Michigan's new coach," athletic director Bill Martin wrote in an e-mail to the Associated Press. "Rich brings an exciting brand of football to Michigan Stadium. We welcome the entire Rodriguez family to Ann Arbor."

Former West Virginia coach Don Nehlen, who coached Rodriguez when he played for the Mountaineers and was on Bo Schembechler's staff at Michigan, endorsed the move.

"I felt it was a great opportunity for Rich," Nehlen told the AP in a telephone interview from Morgantown, W.Va. "There are not many Michigans around."

Michigan's reputation, though, seemed to take a hit during constant coverage of its first coaching search since hiring Schembechler nearly four decades ago. The school had permission to talk to LSU coach Les Miles, who played for Schembechler and also was an assistant under him, but couldn't bring him back to Ann Arbor. It also talked with Greg Schiano, who decided to stay at Rutgers.

The 44-year-old Rodriguez seems to be much more than a consolation prize.

He built West Virginia into a Big East power, winning the conference championship this year for the fourth time in five seasons and going 60-26 overall.

The 11th-ranked Mountaineers (10-2) will play in their second Bowl Championship Series game in three seasons, but Nehlen doesn't expect Rodriguez to coach them in the Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma.

"He'll be in Ann Arbor to stay," Nehlen told the AP. "It would be too hard for him to coach West Virginia in the bowl game.

"He's got a lot of work right away at Michigan, where he has to assemble a staff and catch up on recruiting."

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service


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