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Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Rodriguez attends Michigan bowl, disappointed by WVU lawsuit

Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Newly hired Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez watched the Capital One Bowl from the sideline in the first half and a private box after halftime at the Citrus Bowl on Tuesday, trying not to be a distraction on retiring coach Lloyd Carr's final day.

"This is not my bowl," Rodriguez said before the Wolverines faced Florida (No. 12 BCS, No. 9 AP). "I've not earned this position. I appreciate the interest in the new coach and all that, but this should be about coach Carr and what he's brought in the 13 years at Michigan.

"I know he's worked hard to try to win this ballgame, but his legacy is set and I'm just here to support him and the team," he said.

Rodriguez said he was caught off guard by all the hard feelings left behind at West Virginia, his alma mater and the place he spent the last seven seasons. He led the Mountaineers to four Big East championships and a 60-26 record.

"It's been difficult and it's been a little disappointing to be honest with you," he said. "A lot of folks have been terrific. The players have been terrific. A lot of the big boosters and supporters have been terrific.

"But it's been a little disappointing with some of the things with the administration and some of the fans. The fans are just venting at times. But the scope of the animosity caught me a little bit off guard. But heck, I'm in a great place. I'm all right," he said.

West Virginia's Board of Governors sued Rodriguez to collect a $4 million buyout, saying they believe Rodriguez doesn't intend to abide by the contract.

Rich Rodriguez
Rich Rodriguez watched the Wolverines from the sideline in the first half and a private box after halftime.

The suit surprised Rodriguez.

"I was obviously disappointed to read in the paper and see on the news I was getting sued," he said. "I don't think that's normal. That's not normal protocol, I didn't think. Imagine my shock watching the game at the hotel with my family and it comes across that ticker, getting sued for $4 million. That wasn't a good night."

Rodriguez hopes to get the suit settled soon.

In Arizona for the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, West Virginia president Michael Garrison said the matter would be resolved quickly if Rodriguez would "do what the contract says he should do and agree to pay the buyout, but it's really in the hands of the courts right now and we're pleased to see it move forward."

Rodriguez also expects to start settling into his new job in the coming weeks. Recruiting, meeting with players and assembling his staff top the list.

Rodriguez fired all of Carr's assistants two days after he was hired at Michigan but then decided to rehire running backs coach Fred Jackson.

He said it was possible that some of those assistants might return, but he didn't make it sound likely.

"Obviously I'm very loyal to the staff I had at West Virginia," Rodriguez said. "There'll be several of them coming with me. Several others possibly from other schools."