Rodriguez weighs offer from Alabama

Friday, December 8th 2006, 11:08 am
By: News On 6

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) _ Rich Rodriguez was still handling his West Virginia responsibilities, promoting the Mountaineers' Gator Bowl appearance even as he weighed a job offer from Alabama.

The Crimson Tide was hoping to land the successful coach and his innovative offense on Friday, making him 'Bama's fifth head man since Gene Stallings left in 1996.

There was no agreement in place, but the two sides were still talking, a person with knowledge of the search told The Associated Press on Thursday night. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no official decision had been made.

The Birmingham News reported on its Web site late Thursday that Rodriguez was offered more than $2 million a year with incentives and would have one of the highest-paid coaching staffs in the Southeastern Conference.

Crimson Tide athletic director Mal Moore did not immediately return a call to his home. A call to Rodriguez's cell phone was not answered.

No news conferences were planned Friday in Morgantown, W.Va., said Mike Fragale, WVU sports communications director.

Rodriguez was in his office Friday and planned to meet with West Virginia recruits. This is the final weekend that coaches can have physical contact with prospects for about a month.

Later in the day, the coach planned to preside over the first practice in preparation for the Gator Bowl.

The Press-Register of Mobile, citing unidentified sources, first reported the offer to Rodriguez from Moore on its Web site.

Rodriguez made a previously scheduled appearance late Thursday afternoon in Jacksonville, Fla., site of the Gator Bowl. He declined to respond to questions about the Alabama job.

Rodriguez, who had also been mentioned as a candidate for the Miami Hurricanes' vacancy, said all the attention on him lately has been a mixed bag.

``It's been tough on me, but I've not let it distract me from my day-to-day duties,'' he said. ``When other people have come to talk to my staff or myself personally, it's very flattering. I'd rather have it that way than the other way. I coached a long time and nobody ever called.

``Now, some people have expressed an interest in my staff and myself and while it's flattering, it's not changed who we are.''

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 on Jan. 1.

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.

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 Auburn.

Rodriguez and his wife, Rita, met with Moore Tuesday night in New York City before the College Football Hall of Fame induction banquet. A decision to leave for a more high-profile job or stick around likely wasn't an easy one for the homegrown coach.

Rodriguez grew up 30 minutes from West Virginia's campus and played for the Mountaineers in the 1980s.

His impressive offensive resume made him especially attractive to an Alabama program that struggled offensively this season.

West Virginia ranked second nationally in rushing offense and fourth in total offense last season; Alabama was 75th and 60th, respectively.