Like any other Mountaineer fan, Gov. Joe Manchin is standing on the sidelines awaiting word from the Morgantown campus on the successor to departed and richer head football coach Rich Rodriguez.

Communications director Lara Ramsburg was adamant Wednesday that her boss isn’t trying to sway the selection process in any way.

Put simply, she said, Manchin is staying out of it, leaving the entire matter up to the West Virginia University president and athletic department.

Nor is Manchin, a former Mountaineer quarterback who never took a snap after a knee injury short-circuited his career, interested in taking the reins.

“That does not a coach make you,” Ramsburg said of the governor’s short-lived life as a signal-caller.

“He has a job, thank you very much.”

Ramsburg insisted Manchin is playing no role whatsoever in finding a replacement for Rodriguez, hired by Michigan.

“The governor has full confidence in the officials at WVU, both the president and athletic department, to conduct this search and to make an appropriate choice,” she said.

“He is not involved in the process of picking this coach. They’re doing the interviewing, doing the selecting.”

The Charleston Daily Mail, in a story with sports editor Jack Bogaczyk’s byline, intimated that Manchin had injected himself in the search with a strong suggestion the new head coach be a West Virginia native.

All WVU officials are doing is keeping him informed as a courtesy in deference to his status as governor, as any other college or university would, Ramsburg said.

“It’s completely up to WVU and their president and athletic department,” she said.

Ever since Rodriguez decided to pull up stakes and head for Ann Arbor, the governor’s office has been inundated with e-mails suggesting a successor, she said.

“It’s up to WVU,” she said. “The governor has made that clear from the very beginning. Certainly, everyone in the state is paying attention to what’s going on. At the same time, the governor has a State of the State to prepare for, he has a budget he has to submit. That’s really where his focus has been this week, and those are the meetings we’re having here.”

Is Manchin still sore at Rodriguez, now a pariah among the Mountaineer faithful?

“The governor’s focus, to be perfectly honest, at this point is on the team and on trying to encourage everybody to support the team and the players, the student-athletes, whom we have just come to love and appreciate so much,” Ramsburg said.

Manchin has called on WVU fans to buy tickets and attend the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 2 against Oklahoma, and that’s where his involvement begins and ends, she said.

“We keep in contact with all the people in all the universities, but in terms of the search, that’s up to them,” Ramsburg said.

“The governor has full confidence they’ll get it done and they’ll make good decisions. That’s what he has told them.”

— E-mail:

mannix@register-herald.com

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