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La Liga de Las Americas

Michigan hires Rodríguez as next football coach

AP Sports Writer

ANN ARBOR, Dec. 17, 2007 (AP): Michigan hired Latino Rich Rodríguez away from his alma mater, West Virginia, after failing to bring back one of its own. 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 Rodríguez would succeed retiring Lloyd Carr.

“I am thrilled to have Rich Rodríguez 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 Rodríguez family to Ann Arbor.”

Rich Rodríguez

Former West Virginia and BGSU coach Don Nehlen, who coached Rodríguez 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 Rodríguez 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 Rodríguez 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.





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