The Sports Information release stated that the terms "will allow the Mountaineers to stay competitive nationally." Rodriguez said there were just a few issues left to finalize. "It is more semantics and fine print and getting that done," he said. "I am excited about what we will be able to do and the future of West Virginia football."
Neither WVU President David C. Hardesty, Jr. or Director of Athletics Ed Pastilong were available at the conference. Both released a statement to the media.
"I am very pleased that the University today has reached an agreement extending Coach Rodriguez's contract until January 2014," Hardesty said. "WVU has an exceptional athletic program and wonderful support from alumni and fans. The program deserves a coach with the work ethic and innovative skill of Rich Rodriguez. We are happy that Rich, Rita and their children will remain in Morgantown for many years to come."
Said Pastilong: "I am very happy for the Rodriguez family, our players, our fans and WVU. Together we will remain committed to a competitive football program."
Rodriguez said he set a self-imposed deadline of 2 p.m. today to decide. He did not want the decision to affect any of the practices leading up to No. 13 West Virginia's Jan. 1 Gator Bowl match-up with No. 25 Georgia Tech. He said Alabama had not set the deadline, and that it was his decision. Rodriguez added that he never had "agreed in principle" to any contract with the University of Alabama. He also said neither party had any contact until after the Mountaineers' Dec. 2 regular season finale against Rutgers. Rodriguez and his wife, Rita, met with Alabama Athletic Director Mal Moore in New York when both were there on Monday. Rodriguez was in town for linebacker Jay Henry's Draddy Finalist ceremony for the top academic player in the nation.
Rodriguez said he thought it was simply bad information that was disseminated. He was asked if he thought he would go to Alabama at any point, but just said that he was open-minded throughout the process. He said he did "due diligence in looking at the situation."
"My wife, Rita, and I had not come to a conclusion until this afternoon right before the team meeting," Rodriguez said. "I set a deadline to decided what we wanted to do before we had our first bowl practice. I want to thank our friends and supporters, who have been unbelievable. I would be lying if I said they did not make an impact, not just with what they have pledged to do for the program, but that they are just genuine friends. The way they have made me and my family and our players and staff feel here. I could tell have sincere they were. It has made a tremendous impact in the last 48 hours. I also want to thank David Hardesty and Ed Pastilong and the folks at WVU.
"This has all gone down in the last five days. It has gone fast and been hectic. Everybody was very understanding. I want to thank the players and coaches, too. I have not been able to talk to the coaches because I could not tell them exactly what was going on because I wasn't sure. My guys are very loyal and they have been very patient. My family has been patient. The kids (Raquel and Rhett) are excited. As I have said many times, I plan on being here a long time. I do want to make it clear that I have the utmost respect for the University of Alabama. I have the utmost respect for Mal Moore.
Rodriguez aid his agent, Mike Brown, handled the majority of the conversations between the two parties. Rodriguez said he did all his normal work at West Virginia while also trying to have discussions with Alabama. Rodriguez did attend the Gator Bowl press conference in Jcksonville on Thursday as well. Alabama did wait until WVU's regular season was complete before asking Pastilong to speak with Rodriguez on Sunday. Rodriguez said he wanted Pastilong to know. He said he would not like to speculate on where he ranked on Alabama's list of coaches, but that it was more about West Virginia than Alabama.
"The main reasons I am staying are the reasons to stay," Rodriguez said. "There certainly were not any reasons not to go. It's all about the reasons to stay as opposed to the reasons not to go. We have done some exciting things over the past five years, and I don't think we are done yet. We can continue to grow this program into being the best program in the country. I am biased. This is my school. I think it is a great place to raise a family. We have always had great athletic tradition, and I think we can take it another step. The University is at an all-time high and I think the athletic programs are at an all-time high. We hope the football program is viewed in the same light, and we'll do whatever we can to make sure it stays as such."
Rodriguez said as of last night he had not decided whether or not to take the job. He and Rita spent time in his office discussing it until neat the 2 p.m. self-imposed deadline. Rodriguez said there were a lot of things that happened in the last 48 hours that helped him realize how important the program was to a lot of people.
"I told Eddy this. I think it is my job as a head coach to keep pushing for things that will help our program get better," Rodriguez said. "We have had some success recently and we expect to have it in the future. I know there are folks disappointed in a 10-2 season. That is probably a good thing, expectations that high. It is my job, I feel, to keep pushing for things that will help our program succed. Is this job as easy s some other locations? Probably not, because of location and population. It's hard to get in and out and there is not as much population. That does not mean we can't overcome it. We have never won a national title, but that does not mean we can't overcome it."
Rodriguez told the team just before its first bowl practice, held at the indoor facility. Cheers erupted from the team. West Virginia also has a major recruiting weekend on tap, so this announcement's timing was excellent for all parties at WVU. Roriguez reiterated that it was just a six-day courtship.
"Hopefully, this shows there will be some stability in the coaching staff," senior captain Jay Henry said. "He just wants to see how far he can take this program. He wanted to get everything he could for the program. I can't blame him for that. It was a big sigh of relief. Nobody knew much about anything going in. I don't know how many phone calls I got from people I don't know well asking what I knew. We didn't know anything. It was something he had to go through as a coach. People can say what they would do, but they don't really know."
Rodriguez has now coached the two winningest classes in the history if the school. He will take WVU to its fifth consecutive bowl game, a school record, and has overseen two straight 10-plus win seasons, also a school record.
"Being from here and being born and raised here, I can understand why he would want to stay," said senior captain and Bridgeport, W.Va. native Tim Lindsey. "I also understand what he had to consider. But being a native, being from here, I know why you'd want to remain in West Virginia. It's where he has his family. It is a lot more happy than it was a couple days ago. We were never down on ourselves or coach Rod. We had confidence in his decision. He told us before the Rutgers game that he was staying here and he would finish his career here, and he is a man of his word. I was not surprised at the decision today. I don't blame him for the consideration with the financial considerations. I don't want to get into it, but it was such a joy. All the rumors were put to rest. We clapped and said thank you and we went out and practiced."
Moore also released a statement to the media after being informed Rodriguez would not take the Alabama job.
"I received word this afternoon that coach Rodriguez has chosen to remain the head football coach at West Virginia," Moore said. "I fully respect his decision and wish him the best. I want to remind everyone of what I said at the outset of this process: my only objective is to get the best person available to lead the Alabama football program. I remain determined to bring to our program a proven head coach with impressive credentials. While I am hoping to conclude the search soon, following a timeline is not my main priority. Hiring an outstanding head coach to lead our players is the most important thing, and that will continue to be my only objective."