MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez turned down Alabama on Friday, telling his players that he'll be back for his sixth season with the Mountaineers.
Rodriguez head coaching careerRich Rodriguez has guided West Virginia to three Big East championships and four straight New Year's Day Bowl games, including the 2007 Toyota Gator Bowl vs. Georgia Tech. COACHING RECORD:
With West Virginia: 49-24 (2001-present)
With Glenville State (Div. II): 43-26-2 (1990-96)
With Salem (Div. II): 2-8 (1988)
A loud applause could be heard from inside the Milan Puskar Center at Mountaineer Field after Rodriguez told his team he would be staying at his alma mater.
"I fully respect his decision and wish him the best," Alabama athletic director Mal Moore said in a statement. "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."
Alabama officials offered the job to Rodriguez on Thursday morning, but the definitive answer didn't come until more than 24 hours later. Reportedly, Alabama offered Rodriguez a $12 million, six-year contract.
West Virginia athletic director Ed Pastilong worked on a proposal to keep Rodriguez at the school, but details were not immediately released.
"It's a very good contract," said Stephen P. Goodwin, chairman of the WVU Board of Governors. "It's fair to the university. We're all tickled to death."
Goodwin said West Virginia wasn't trying to compete with Alabama's offer.
"We tried to make Rich the best offer WVU could make to keep him continuing on as a football coach. We didn't get into a bidding match. We couldn't have won that war," Goodwin said.
WVU sports communications director Mike Fragale said Rodriguez would hold a news conference later Friday.
Rodriguez has built West Virginia into a Big East power, winning the Sugar Bowl after the 2005 season and a share of three straight league titles. The Mountaineers are 10-2 and will play Georgia Tech in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., on Jan. 1.
Rodriguez signed a seven-year contract in June that pays him $1 million this year with $50,000 annual raises after that, and $600,000 in deferred compensation in December 2011 if he remained as coach.
Alabama fired Mike Shula on Nov. 26 after the Tide went 6-6 in his fourth season and lost its fifth consecutive meeting with rival Auburn.
The Tide had also made overtures to South Carolina's Steve Spurrier and Nick Saban of the Miami Dolphins, but both high-profile coaches opted to stay put.
Then, Alabama's attention turned squarely to Rodriguez, who had both the offensive pedigree and the track record for winning the Tide wanted.
It wasn't clear who the Tide will turn to now, though the university's original wish list also included Navy's Paul Johnson, Wake Forest's Jim Grobe and possibly California's Jeff Tedford.
There have been no confirmed interviews with any of them.
The once-mighty program is again left Crimson in the face in another coaching search. The Tide is seeking its fifth coach since Gene Stallings stepped down in 1996. Stallings is the only coach to manage sustained success since Bear Bryant's retirement after the 1982 season.