GRANT TOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Relatives of Rich Rodriguez have been harassed and threatened in the three weeks since his resignation as West Virginia University football coach, his mother says.
Arleen Rodriguez says her teenage grandson received a death threat and found other harassing notes taped to his locker at East Fairmont High School, while her 12-year-old granddaughter had to be escorted to classes.
Mountaineer fans furious over Rodriguez's Dec. 16 decision to accept the head coaching job at Michigan also vandalized his home near Morgantown, hanging signs on a fence and tossing a mailbox in the yard.
"He put seven years into WVU and now everybody thinks he's garbage,"
his mother said. "Think like a parent. That's all I can say. Think about it. Think about what you're doing."
The backlash has been even more venomous on the Facebook social networking site, where dozens of groups with profanity-laced names have formed, devoted to wishing ill for Rodriguez and his family.
"What it feels like to me, it's like your kid getting beat up at school all the time and you can't stop it," his mother said Monday.
A similar but short-lived fury boiled up last month against Mountaineer kicker Pat McAfee, who received angry text messages and had his car vandalized after missing two field goals in West Virginia's 13-9 loss to Pitt. The loss knocked WVU out of national championship contention, but the team went on without Rodriguez to claim victory over Oklahoma at the Fiesta Bowl.
Feeding the fury against Rodriguez is that after seven seasons in Morgantown, he is raiding the Mountaineers' program, taking assistant coaches and perhaps recruits with him. On Sunday, he announced he'd hired the six-member strength and conditioning staff to work at Michigan.
But Arleen Rodriguez said her son had not been planning to leave Morgantown, was renovating his home and struggled with the decision.
Several wealthy football boosters claim there was behind-the-scenes tension between Rodriguez and the WVU administration, but the coach has yet to publicly discuss the matter.
"I don't think he felt wanted at WVU anymore," his mother said.
"I found out that things are a whole lot different than what people think," she said. "It wasn't easy for them to leave."