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WVU President Says Search for Coach is Ongoing and Active

January 2, 2008
By MICKEY FURFARI, For The Inter-Mountain
GLENDALE, Ariz. — President Mike Garrison said Tuesday that West Virginia University’s search for a new head football coach is “ongoing and very active.”

He talked to the media at the Marriott Camelback Inn after Bill Stewart, the interim head coach, appeared at a Tostitos Fiesta Bowl press conference.

The search is progressing, Garrison noted, even though WVU officials and the football squad have been here since Dec. 26 preparing for tonight’s game against No. 3-ranked Oklahoma.

“Even though we’re out here, we do want to keep focus on the team and its accomplishments,” he stated.

Garrison emphasized that he wouldn’t say who has been interviewed or will be for the position Rich Rodriguez left to become head coach at Michigan on Dec. 19.

But he said there has been strong interest in the opening nationally.

The WVU Board of Regents filed suit against Rodriguez last week, seeking the $4 million buyout it had in his contract.

Garrison said there’s no further information on that litigation. “But it could be resolved if Coach Rodriguez would do what the contract says he should do and agree to pay the buyout.

“But it’s really in the hands of the court now, and we’re pleased to see it moved forward.”

In reply to a question, Garrison said he doesn’t think Stewart is auditioning for the job, although the veteran coach has publicly expressed interest.

“I think he is taking on the responsibility he was asked to take on, and he’s done a wonderful job,” the campus chief said. “I could not think of a better individual to take it on.

“We’re not going to talk about individuals who will or will not be interviewed. But Coach Stewart is a very viable candidate.

“ Again, he’s doing a wonderful job. And he’s a great guy.”

He said members of the search committee have talked to a large number of coaches and that they are pleased with the interest shown in the job.

“We want to make sure, as I said the other day, that it’s a very thorough and professional search. And I think that’s what we need to do.”

He expressed hope that the search could be wrapped up quickly.

“But, again, more than anything we want to make sure we’ve done it the right way and that we’ve surveyed all national interest,” Garrison continued.

“In addition to some names that have been mentioned already, you have plenty of names that are out there that may or may not be candidates.

“You also have plenty of folks that may have an interest and aren’t mentioned publicly.”

Garrison said WVU wants to hire someone who can come in and provide some continuity to the success the football program has enjoyed in the past.

“Let’s not forget that not too long ago we were vying for the national championship,” he recalled, “and it’s not necessarily broken.”

WVU’s hopes for a national title this season ended with a 13-9 loss to Pitt in the regular-season finale Dec. 1.

West Virginia lost to Notre Dame 34-21 on Jan. 2, 1989 in a Fiesta Bowl showdown for the national title. That game was played in Tempe, Ariz.

Of course, Garrison said he’s picking WVU to upset the favored Sooners, “no question about it.”

He thinks it will be a high-scoring game, but he is willing to win by any score or margin.



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