News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

Rodriguez appears to be the man
Alabama meets with W.Va. coach in 90-minute informal setting

By Josh Cooper 340-2460

Decision day is fast approaching with definitive news relating to the Alabama coaching search possibly coming as early as today.

Alabama athletics director Mal Moore and West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez had an informal meeting Tuesday at New York's Waldorf Astoria hotel.

Both were there as part of 2006 National Football Foundation Awards Dinner and College Football Hall of Fame inductions.

"It was an informal meeting," Rodriguez, whose wife Rita sat in on the meeting as well, told's Ivan Maisel.

When asked how long the meeting was, Rodriguez said about 25 to 30 minutes. Then he turned to his wife, Rita, who corrected him and said about 90 minutes.

"Oh," Rodriguez said. "Well, we didn't talk about anything specific. We didn't talk about plans or facilities or anything."

Alabama officials are hopeful that they can get Rodriguez on board soon. A source close to the search told The Daily that word of a potential Tide hire could come as early as today. A deal had not been reached, but it was close according to the source. While Alabama is being tight lipped on who its target is, all signs and sources point toward Rodriguez.

The West Virginia coach has been mum on his stance on the Alabama job since Mike Shula was fired Nov. 26.

He has been questioned publicly several times as to whether he would take the Alabama job if offered. Most of the time when asked, he has stated that he is happy at West Virginia, but has not said, "No."

Industry insiders and people close to Rodriguez indicate that the Alabama job is one that he would take if offered.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Rodriguez and the Mountaineers athletic program entered a lengthy contract stalemate last summer when he wanted $50,000 more for his assistants. Also, a fund-raising campaign for a new academic center has not begun.

The issues with the West Virginia athletic department has led to some contention between Rodriguez and his alma mater.

Alabama recently finished a $120 million facilities upgrade.

West Virginia athletics director Ed Pastilong was traveling to Charleston, W.Va., on Tuesday and did not return a telephone call.

According to West Virginia sports information director Shelly Poe, Alabama has made no official request of permission to speak with Rodriguez.

After the "informal" talk Tuesday, it appears that there doesn't have to be one.

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