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College football notebook

Michigan decides to fire Rodriguez

Associated Press / January 6, 2011

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Michigan’s Rich Rodriguez was fired yesterday after going 15-22 in three disappointing seasons, including an 0-6 record combined against rivals Ohio State and Michigan State, and staining the proud program with a handful of NCAA violations.

“Michigan is not used to this,’’ said athletic director Dave Brandon, who met with Rodriguez on Tuesday and again yesterday before announcing the firing.

“I believe this is the best decision for the future of Michigan football,’’ Brandon said. “We have not achieved at the level that I expect.’’

Rodriguez, who was West Virginia’s highly successful coach before arriving in Ann Arbor, was just 6-18 in Big Ten play and 11-11 at home. The school will buy out the final three years of Rodriguez’s contract for $2.5 million, bringing its overall cost in hiring and firing him to $12.5 million.

Brandon said he will immediately begin a search for a replacement amid speculation that candidates might include Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, a former Wolverines quarterback, and former Michigan assistant Brady Hoke, now San Diego State’s head coach.

Bradley interviews A Pitt official with knowledge of the meetings says longtime Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley has interviewed to be the school’s next football coach. The job became vacant when Mike Haywood was fired 2 1/2 weeks after being hired. The person says Bradley talked with Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson and also met with members of Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg’s administration. Haywood, the former Miami (Ohio) coach, was fired last weekend following his arrest on a domestic violence charge in Indiana . . . Texas hired Mississippi State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz to do the same job with the Longhorns. Diaz replaces Will Muschamp, who left Texas after three seasons to become the head coach at Florida. Diaz inherits a defense that struggled badly in the first losing season for Texas (5-7) since 1997.

Rudolph declares Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph will give up his final season of eligibility and make himself available for the NFL draft. The 6-foot-6-inch, 265-pound junior ranks fourth in school history in career receptions (90) and receiving yards (1,032) by a tight end . . . Clemson junior All-American defensive end Da’Quan Bowers said he will give up his senior season to enter the NFL. He’s projected as top-five selection in April’s draft.

Buckeyes survive Shaking off a brush with the NCAA, Terrelle Pryor passed for 221 yards and two touchdowns, ran for a team-leading 115 yards, and guided the No. 6 Buckeyes to their first postseason win ever against a Southeastern Conference team, beating Arkansas, 31-26, Tuesday night in a Sugar Bowl thriller in New Orleans. Pryor got plenty of help from four teammates who also ran afoul of the NCAA by selling memorabilia and getting discounts on tattoos. They’ll have to serve five-game suspensions next season.