"We Need Him Here To Keep It Going"

The players and coaches who spilled out of the Puskar Center on their way to begin preparations for the Gator Bowl did so with smiles, cheers and afew tears -- although they were of the happy variety.

Coming from a brief team meeting, the members of the WVU football program got the word they were waiting for -- head coach Rich Rodriguez will remain at West Virginia.

"It's a good thing for the program, and it's good to see him stay here," long time defensive coach Bill Kirelawich said just prior to practice. "We need him here to keep this thing going, and now we need to get back to preparations for the bowl game."

In the short, emotional meeting, a teary-eyed Rodriguez told his players, coaches and support staff that he was turning down the Alabama offer and staying at West Virginia.

"Obviously, we are very happy he is staying," defensive line standout Keilen Dykes said. "He told us that he was staying here, and that we wasn't going to Alabama, and we all stood up and cheered and gave him a standing ovation. He got a little teary-eyed at that."

West Virginia is now on the practice field to being preparations for Georgia Tech in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 1. A press conference is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

According to several sources, Rodriguez will soon sign a new contract with West Virginia that is expected to include salary upgrades and other guarantees for facility improvements. Official details on the deal were not available.

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