Rodriguez denies 'Bama, will return to Morgantown

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez
turned down Alabama on Friday, telling his players that he'll be
back for his sixth season with the Mountaineers.

A loud applause could be heard from inside the Milan Puskar
Center at Mountaineer Field after Rodriguez told his team he would
be staying at his alma mater.

"Obviously I'm very excited to stay here and I plan on being
here a long time," Rodriguez said later at a news conference.
"We've done some pretty good things over the last five years or
so. We're not done yet. We're going to continue to grow."

Rodriguez will receive a two-year contract extension through the
2014 season from West Virginia. While other details of the deal were not
immediately released, a source with knowledge of the negotiation told ESPN.com's Ivan Maisel that Rodriguez took approximately $1.75 million per year to remain in Morgantown. Part of that agreement was a clause to build a new academic center and locker room by a set period of time, otherwise the contract would be voided.

"There weren't many reasons not to go. It's all about the
reasons for staying," Rodriguez said. "I'm biased, this is my
school. I think it's a great place to raise a family. We've always
had a great athletic tradition."

Alabama officials offered the job to Rodriguez on Thursday
morning, but the answer didn't come until more than 24 hours later.
Alabama reportedly offered Rodriguez a $12 million, six-year

"I fully respect his decision and wish him the best," Alabama
athletic director Mal Moore said in a statement. "I want to remind
everyone of what I said at the outset of this process: my only
objective is to get the best person available to lead the Alabama
football program.

"I remain determined to bring to our program a proven head
coach with impressive credentials."

It was reported by ESPN Thursday night that Alabama officials had reached an agreement with Rodriguez for him to become the Crimson Tide's next head football coach. That report proved to be incorrect.

Stephen P. Goodwin, chairman of the WVU Board of Governors, said
the university was never trying to compete with Alabama.

"We tried to make Rich the best offer WVU could make to keep
him continuing on as a football coach. We didn't get into a bidding
match. We couldn't have won that war," he said.

Efforts to keep Rodriguez reached as far as Ken Kendrick, a WVU
graduate and managing general partner of baseball's Arizona
Diamondbacks. He earlier donated about $200,000 toward construction
of a hall dedicated to the history of Mountaineer football.

"I negotiate with athletes and their agents," Kendrick said.
"Maybe I lent some help" getting a competitive offer on the

Rodriguez has built West Virginia into a Big East power, winning
the Sugar Bowl after the 2005 season and a share of three straight
league titles. The Mountaineers are 10-2 and will play Georgia Tech
in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., on Jan. 1.

"I am very happy for the Rodriguez family, our players, our
fans and WVU. Together we will remain committed to a competitive
football program," athletic director Ed Pastilong said.

In June, Rodriguez signed a seven-year contract that pays him $1
million this year with $50,000 annual raises after that, and
$600,000 in deferred compensation in December 2011 if he remained
as coach.

"The program deserves a coach with the work ethic and
innovative skill of Rich Rodriguez," West Virginia president David

Alabama fired Mike Shula on Nov. 26 after the Tide went 6-6 in
his fourth season and lost its fifth consecutive meeting with rival

The Tide had also made overtures to South Carolina's Steve
Spurrier and Nick Saban of the Miami Dolphins, but both
high-profile coaches opted to stay put.

Then, Alabama's attention turned squarely to Rodriguez, who had
both the offensive pedigree and the track record for winning the
Tide wanted.

It wasn't clear who the Tide will turn to now, though the
university's original wish list also included Navy's Paul Johnson,
Wake Forest's Jim Grobe and possibly California's Jeff Tedford.

There have been no confirmed interviews with any of them.

The once-mighty program is again left Crimson in the face in
another coaching search. The Tide is seeking its fifth coach since
Gene Stallings stepped down in 1996. Stallings is the only coach to
manage sustained success since Bear Bryant's retirement after the
1982 season.

ESPN.com senior writer Ivan Maisel contributed to this report. Information from The Associated Press was also used.