Alabama's hopes of luring Steve Spurrier away from South Carolina ended Saturday when trustees approved a $500,000-a-year raise for the coveted coach.
Another top candidate, West Virginia's Rich Rodriguez, went on a radio show in that state Friday to deny he was leaving.
The executive committee for South Carolina's board of trustees quickly approved a new deal that would raise Spurrier's pay to $1.75-million and extend his contract through 2012.
Spurrier said he wanted to end speculation about the Alabama job and prove to recruits that "if you come to South Carolina, you're going to play for Coach Spurrier and his coaches."
Alabama was expected to interview Rodriguez this weekend, the Birmingham News reported Saturday.
Rodriguez, however, denied the rumors on the radio show.
"I plan on being the coach at West Virginia for the rest of my career if they'll have me," he said on the Statewide Sportsline show based in Charleston, W.Va. "That's what I'm planning on doing. I don't plan on calling or talking to anybody this week. I don't plan on talking to anybody next week. I don't plan on doing anything but everything I can for West Virginia football."
Alabama players took a breather from the rumors Saturday, returning to the practice field for the first time in two weeks.
"When you're out here working, you don't think about it," said interim coach Joe Kines, the Tide's defensive coordinator.
Athletic director Mal Moore said in a statement Friday that he had not contacted any college coach who hasn't completed his regular season.