West Virginia defensive backs coach Tony Gibson attended Monday's news conference. (John T. Greilick/The Detroit News)
Michigan athletic director Bill Martin stood firm Monday, responding to criticism of his handling of the coaching search over the last month.
"I didn't read anything any of you wrote. I didn't look at any blogs. I didn't pick up one newspaper. I simply focused on this process. As Rich (new coach Rich Rodriguez ) said, this was the hardest decision he's had to make. This was the hardest month I've had to go through in my career at Michigan."
Mike Brown , Rodriguez's agent, said Michigan twice contacted West Virginia about its intention to talk to Rodriguez about the coaching vacancy.
Rodriguez met with Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman and athletic director Bill Martin Friday in Toledo. On Sunday afternoon, he officially became Michigan's head coach.
"We didn't all come to a head until Saturday and we worked with Bill on Saturday and had a term sheet and an idea what they wanted to offer Rich," Brown said. "Rich went through the process with his friends and family and came to a decision."
Did West Virginia get a chance to respond?
"No, during the day Saturday, as has been reported, Rich had various meetings with various people there," Brown said, referring to reported meetings with West Virginia's athletic director and president. "Michigan never even put a money offer on the table (at that point). Rich didn't know at the time what their offer was. It had to do more about other things in the program. They made a decision that was finalized (Sunday) afternoon."
Count Louisiana State coach Les Miles among those satisfied about the Rodriguez hire.
"I'm also happy to see that Michigan has picked a quality coach," Miles said Monday at a national title game news conference in Baton Rouge, La. "It will certainly end questions that I'll have to field.
"I can also tell you I have a Michigan background that will never change. I will be loyal to that memory and to that school."
Martin laughed when asked about his overflowing e-mail inbox, particularly after Michigan's apparent courtship of Miles ended with Miles tearful Dec. 1 announcement he was staying in Baton Rouge.
"What it reflects, I believe, is simply the passion for Michigan football," Martin said.
As a state employee at a public university, Martin's e-mail correspondence can be accessed using the state's Freedom of Information Act.
"I had to put filters on my e-mail, because of the number of e-mails I got on this search," Martin said.
Carr chuckles at coverage
Retiring Michigan coach Lloyd Carr was asked to talk about his role -- if he had one -- in the coaching search, but he declined.
Apparently, he was, however, amused by the non-stop coverage of the search.
"There's a story every day," Carr said. "There's a lot of rumor, innuendo, a lot of half-truths and distortions of the truths and untruths. I don't follow in all the various outlets, but you can't fail to hear some of the stories and all of the things."
Odds and ends
U-M recruits pleased
At least three Michigan recruits couldn't be more pleased with the coach the Wolverines finally nabbed to replace Lloyd Carr .
Linemen Mike Martin of Detroit Catholic Central and linebacker Kenny Demens of Detroit Country Day were becoming a bit impatient with U-M's search for a replacement and had serious thoughts of taking an official visit to West Virginia next month. After U-M hired Rich Rodriguez away from West Virginia, both are firmly committed to U-M.
A third recruit, offensive tackle Dann O'Neill of Grand Haven, said he was going to honor his commitment to Michigan no matter what. He was pleased with Rodriguez's hiring because the offense he ran at West Virginia is quite familiar to O'Neill.
"Over here in Grand Haven we run the spread," O'Neill said. "We actually have cut-ups, plays West Virginia ran. We watched film of West Virginia quite a bit before the season. It's pretty awesome. It's a great fit for them"
Martin and Demens also remain firmly committed.
"I'm pretty solid with Michigan," Martin said.
Martin said he spoke with a number of U-M's recruits and he said most indicated they were staying with their commitments.
Martin also talked to quarterback Terrelle Pryor of Jeannette (Pa.) High School whom rivals.com lists as its No. 1 player in the country.
"He told me Michigan is in his top three or four schools," Martin said. "That would be pretty cool if he came here."
Demens echoed Martin's assessment of the new coach.
"I'm real happy with it," Demens said. "West Virginia offered me a scholarship in July.
"He's a great coach. He was interested in me from the beginning."
U-M has received 17 commitments for the class of 2008. The first signing day is Feb. 6.
Tony Gibson , Rodriguez's defensive backs coach and recruiting coordinator at West Virginia, is expected to be on the new Michigan staff.
Not that he thinks recruiting to Michigan will be a breeze, but Gibson said he believes doors will open a lot faster.
"Michigan is a pretty easy sell," Gibson said.
"I don't think you have to tell kids a whole lot when you walk in with the M on your chest."
On the defensive side
Rodriguez's reputation as one of the pioneers of the spread option precedes him, but what about his defense?
West Virginia has run an odd-front, 3-3-5 defense.
"What he wants to do is create excitement on defense," Gibson said. " We blitz it's going to be an exciting style, but scheme-wise, I don't know what we're going to do yet."
Rodriguez grew up in Grant Town, W.Va., just down the road from Fairview, W.Va., the birthplace of Michigan coaching legend Fielding Yost . But he's quick to admit he has a lot to learn about the Michigan tradition.
He already has begun his research, he added.
"Everybody knows about the legend of Bo Schembechler ," Rodriguez said. "I actually got his book last night from the mayor of Toledo, who is a big U-M fan, so I'm going to read that on the way home."
Said athletic director Bill Martin : "I told him I'd give him 24 hours to learn 'The Victors', and he said, 'No problem, I'll get on it.' "