CHARLESTON, W. Va. -- Gov. Joe Manchin doesn't believe West
Virginia University reneged on its promises to Rich Rodriguez,
which is what supporters of the Mountaineers former coach say
triggered his exit to Michigan.
"All I've seen is mammoth improvements, tremendous
improvements," Manchin said Thursday.
The governor cited the 70 percent boost to Rodriguez's pay,
increased salaries for his coaching staff and a $2 million academic
center for athletes.
"I don't know the intricacies of it. I'm speaking as a fan,"
The governor earlier called on WVU to hold Rodriguez, a lifelong
friend, to the $4 million buyout clause in its contract with him.
Since then, several wealthy donors to the school have alleged WVU
let down Rodriguez.
Manchin said Thursday he doesn't care who pays. "Whoever, I just want West Virginia to get the $4 million," the governor said. "If someone is generous enough to pay it,
Some prominent West Virginia boosters have criticized the school
for not doing enough to keep Rodriguez in Morgantown.
The No. 11 Mountaineers (10-2) play No. 3 Oklahoma (11-2) in the
Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 2. Rodriguez initially told WVU he planned to leave the day after
the bowl game, but then announced he would not be coaching the bowl
game and resigned Tuesday.
He led West Virginia to four Big East championships and a 60-26
record in seven seasons.
Associate head coach Bill Stewart was made interim coach as the
team prepares for the Fiesta Bowl.
Former Auburn coach Terry Bowden, Florida assistant coach Doc
Holliday and Central Michigan coach Butch Jones have all reportedly
interviewed for the West Virginia job.
Holliday is a West Virginia native and was a linebacker for the
Mountaineers before spending 17 years (1983-99) as an assistant
coach under Don Nehlen. Holliday was an associate head coach and
receivers coach at North Carolina State (2000-04) before joining
coach Urban Meyer at Florida in 2005.
Bowden, son of Florida State coach and former West Virginia
coach Bobby Bowden, played running back for the Mountaineers in
1977-78. Terry Bowden was 47-16-1 at Auburn from 1993 to 1998 and has
been a broadcaster since leaving the Tigers.
Jones served as an assistant coach under Rodriguez in 2005 and
2006. He led the Chippewas to an 8-5 record and a Mid-American
Conference championship in his first year as coach at CMU.