The feud between West Virginia and former coach Rich Rodriguez is taking on the appearance of a Hatfield- McCoy dispute, with shots being fired and the plot building by the day.
West Virginia officials are now — at least unofficially — blaming Rodriguez for missing documents from the Mountaineer football office.
Dave Hickman of the Charleston Gazette broke the story, reporting that Rodriguez might have "destroyed all or most of the paperwork files relating to every player on the current Mountaineer roster and virtually all of the activities conducted by the program over the past seven years."
Rodriguez agent Mike Brown fired back, saying his client "may have received copies. But I would sure hope the originals of those are in West Virginia's compliance office. If they do not have that information, they have serious institutional control issues."
Charleston Gazette columnist Mitch Vingle wrote that the number of web hits to Hickman's story neared six figures Tuesday night. "Understandable, as the story has intrigue. There’s mystery. And, at least in West Virginia, there’s a villain — Rich Rodriguez, the former coach of the Mountaineers who bolted for Michigan."
Rodriguez and West Virginia already appear headed to court over the coach's $4 million buyout clause. And earlier Rodriguez's mother said her family has suffered insults, vandalism and even death threats in the wake of the coach's sudden departure from his home state.
Then there was former Mountaineer defensive backs coach Tony Gibson, who followed Rodriguez to Michigan, saying his 13-year-old son was hassled by the principal back in Morgantown. "[West Virginia] is a place we need to stay out of for a while," Gibson said.
Last weekend, the father of Steve Slaton blamed his son's decision on leaving early for an NFL draft heavy on running backs on Rodriguez. "It was pushed on him with Rodriguez leaving and taking the whole coaching staff," Carl Slaton said.
Then came word that Terrelle Pryor, the nation's top-rated prep quarterback, is headed to Ann Arbor for a weekend visit. Pryor, of course, previously had West Virginia near the top of his list. Until Rodriguez departed.
Thanks to Greg, Brian and Tim for their help.