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Rodriguez starts job at Michigan as buyout issues continue

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Rich Rodriguez started his new job
Wednesday by watching Michigan practice, while terms of his buyout
at West Virginia remained unresolved.

Rodriguez was introduced as coach Lloyd Carr's successor with
the Wolverines on Monday morning, then returned to West Virginia
later that day. His resignation as the Mountaineers' coach was
moved up from Jan. 3 to midnight Tuesday, a West Virginia spokesman
said.

Details and payment of Rodriguez's $4 million buyout in his West
Virginia contract still must be worked out. His agent, Mike Brown,
said Rodriguez's previous comment, "The lawyers are working on
it," still stands and declined 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 athletic director Bill Martin. A message seeking
comment was left with Martin.

Carr will coach the Wolverines on Jan. 1 against Florida in the
Capital One Bowl, then retire after 13 seasons as Michigan's head
coach. Carr said Rodriguez would have all the access he wanted,
welcoming him to watch practice as well as talk to Michigan
assistant coaches and players.

Rodriguez said he didn't think it would be in his or West
Virginia's best interest for him to coach the Mountaineers against
Oklahoma on Jan. 2 in the Fiesta Bowl. Associate head coach Bill
Stewart has been chosen West Virginia's interim coach.

"I think the players understand more than some of the general
public," Rodriguez said Monday. "It's never easy. I mean, when is
the right time or an easy time to leave a program? I don't think
any coach will tell you there's a right, easy time."

Rodriguez was 60-26 in seven seasons at West Virginia, where he
built the program into a Big East power with four titles in five
years.

The 44-year-old Rodriguez said goodbye to the Mountaineers
during an emotional meeting Sunday in Morgantown.

His agent hoped fans in West Virginia would appreciate what he
did for the program, and not hold his move against him. That hasn't
seemed to happen.

Rodriguez's wife, Rita, also a West Virginia native, hopes time
will ease the hard feelings.

"Someone told us, 'You're never going to be able to come back
to this state again!'" she said. "You hope at some point, people
realize we're not rejecting the state of West Virginia. We just
decided to make a career move."