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WVU hires Rodriguez to guide football program

by Anthony Hanshew

STAFF WRITER

West Virginia got its man.

A three-week search for Don Nehlen's replacement as the Mountaineers' football coach culminated Sunday when Rich Rodriguez was hired. The former Salem and Glenville State College coach is WVU's 31st football coach.

Rodriguez, a three-year letterman at West Virginia from 1982-84, coached under Nehlen as a volunteer assistant in 1989. He has spent the past two seasons as offensive coordinator at Clemson. This season, associate head coach was added to his title and he helped lead the Tigers to a No. 13 ranking and a Gator Bowl berth.

"I'm very excited for the opportunity to come home and coach at my alma mater," Rodriguez said in a press statement. "I feel very lucky to have received interest from a number of schools, but West Virginia is home to me and very dear to my heart."

Rodriguez was signed to a five-year contract which will pay him $402,600 annually. This includes a $150,000 base salary, $63,000 from private funding via the Athletic Endowment Fund and $189,600 from radio, television, internet and endorsements.

His hiring is effective Friday, but Nehlen would coach the Mountaineers should WVU earn a bowl berth.

Rodriguez is a Grant Town native and 1981 graduate of North Marion High School. His wife, Rita, is a native of Jane Lew.

Staff writer Anthony Hanshew can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at ahanshew@exponent-telegram.com.

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