RichRod vs. West Virginia: Is there a real winner?

July, 9, 2008
7/09/08
6:29
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

The RichRod-WVU case has settled, and it seems like both sides are content the drawn-out dispute is over. Rodriguez, despite being $1.5 million poorer, can move on with his duties at Michigan. West Virginia got the money it wanted from Rodriguez, and can now look ahead to a very promising football season without him.

"I'm just glad it's over," Mountaineers coach Bill Stewart told The Charleston Gazette. "Both sides need to be able to focus on what's really important, and that's the football programs at West Virginia and Michigan."

Identifying clear winners and losers in this convoluted case isn't easy, but let's take a look.

West Virginia: The school got the $4 million it sought after Rodriguez left for Michigan in December. Waiting out seven months of squabbling to get the full compensation must provide a degree of vindication. But West Virginia still must pay its attorney fees and court costs associated with the case, so it's not a complete W. Much of the venom West Virginia had for Rodriguez was justified -- the coach should have handled his departure differently -- but the focus on this very public case didn't paint anyone in a good light. West Virginia football has a good thing going: a likable new coach (Stewart), one of the nation's most accomplished seniors (Pat White) and an improving league. To quote Les Miles, it's time for West Virginia to focus on its damn fine football team.

Rodriguez: This definitely wasn't the outcome he had hoped for, and though Michigan is picking up most of the tab, it's never fun to part with $1.5 million. Rodriguez wanted to see this through, but as the case dragged on, with his new bosses possibly having to give depositions, he agreed to settle. He clearly made mistakes during the process and should have settled this long ago. At least he can focus now on his extremely difficult task on the field at Michigan without the distraction off of it.

Michigan: Athletic director Bill Martin's post-settlement statement reconfirmed the school's faith in Rodriguez but acknowledged the positives of having the issue resolved. The much-publicized dispute wasn't the start Michigan envisoned to Rodriguez's tenure. Hiring an outsider was already a concern for the Old Blues. The school will shell out $2.5 million plus Rodriguez's legal fees, all from the athletic department's reserve funds, but at least it makes this p.r. headache go away.

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