MORGANTOWN — Is the University of Michigan about to lure a highly successful head coach from West Virginia University for the second time within nine months?

That was the burning question for which a stunned Mountain State awaited an answer Friday night after Rich Rodriguez reportedly met with U-M president Mary Sue Coleman and athletic director Bill Martin in Toledo, Ohio, earlier in the day.

Michael Rosenberg, a sports writer for the Detroit Free Press, said two people in position to know confirmed to him that the school officials discussed with the Mountaineer mentor the head football coaching vacancy at Michigan.

What’s more, Rosenberg said on the MetroNews statewide talk show Friday night that his personal feeling is that Rodriguez will accept the job if offered.

Friday’s report, also published in the Detroit News and circulated on the Internet, apparently caught WVU athletic director Ed Pastilong completely by surprise. He said he had known nothing about the Toledo meeting.

“We don’t say, as a matter of policy, whether the other school asked for permission to talk to one of our coaches,” he explained.

“But most recently, West Virginia University entered into a strong commitment with Rich and he, in turn, has made a strong commitment to us.

“He has not shared with us any indication in regard to what’s rumored to be taking place today. So we are planning to be together in the future.”

Last April 4, Michigan hired John Beilein as the Wolverines’ head basketball coach. He had just completed an outstanding five-year stint at WVU.

Rodriguez was back in Morgantown late Friday afternoon as the Mountaineers began practicing for their Tostitos Fiesta Bowl game with No. 3 Oklahoma Jan. 2 in Glendale, Ariz.

The head coach also is scheduled to meet with the media at 10:30 a.m. today. It could not be learned whether that still is on the agenda.

WVU was headed for a berth in the national championship game Jan. 7 at New Orleans until old rival Pitt turned spoiler Dec. 1, winning 13-9 as a 28-point underdog. As a result, West Virginia finished the regular season with a 10-2 record and dropped from No. 2 to No. 9 in the Bowl Championship Series ratings.

In the latest contract approval, Rodriguez will make close to $2 million for this year and was committed through 2013. Were he to leave before Aug. 31, 2008, his buyout would be $4 million with specific time deadlines for paying.

That was part of the amendment agreed to last year after he almost left for the head job at Alabama. His record for seven seasons at his alma mater is 60-26, with a share of the Big East championship four of the last five years.

When withdrawing from consideration for the Alabama post, Rodriguez said:

“Obviously, I’m very excited to stay here, and I plan on being here a long time. We’ve done some pretty good things over the last five years or so. We’re not done yet. We’re going to continue to grow.

“There weren’t many reasons not to go to Alabama. It’s all about the reason for staying. I’m biased. This is my school. I think it’s a great place to raise a family. We’ve always had a great athletic tradition.”

A week ago, Rutgers coach Greg Schiano withdrew his name from consideration for the Michigan job after he had met with Martin for five hours in New York. LSU coach Les Miles, a former Michigan player and assistant coach, reportedly also pulled out of the U-M coach search.

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