Beilein: Michigan should welcome Fisher back

From ESPN - March 14, 2018

WICHITA, Kan. -- Michigan coach John Beilein believes it's time for Steve Fisher to assume his rightful place in Michigan lore.

It was Fisher who led the Wolverines to the 1989 national championship, then brought together the Fab Five, a quintet led by Jalen Rose, Chris Webber and Juwan Howard, for two more runs to the title game before becoming persona non grata around the school's Ann Arbor campus following a scandal that led to his firing more than two decades ago.

The title game appearances in 1991 and 1992 and 113 victories overall were vacated as part of the fallout, and many believe Fisher remains out of the Hall of Fame because he was implicated in the booster case.

Fisher retired last season after 18 seasons coaching San Diego State, building a perennial winner that is back in this year's NCAA tournament under his longtime assistant, Brian Dutcher. If No. 3 seed Michigan can beat Montana in the opening round of the West Regional, and the 11-seed Aztecs beat Houston in their game, the schools will meet in the second round.

"Steve and I have been friends, ever since he was the Michigan coach," said Beilein, who has led the Wolverines since the 2007-08 season. "He's gone out of his way over and over again for me, when I am on the road traveling, with the Nike trips. We have spent a lot of time together."

Asked whether he thinks a reunion could happen, he replied: "I know that's in the plans."

Beilein would not elaborate beyond saying, "I'd rather keep it right there." But he was clearly pleased that the question was even broached, offering him an opportunity to discuss his longtime friend and the role he might play in a program that will be forever tied to him.

Fisher had spent nearly a decade coaching high schools and a few years as an assistant at Western Michigan when he was hired in 1982 as an assistant for the Wolverines. He continued in that role until 1989, when Bill Frieder was fired on the eve of the NCAA tournament for taking the Arizona State job.

Football coach-turned-athletic director Bo Schembechler famously announced that "a Michigan man is going to coach Michigan" and promoted Fisher ahead of the opening round.


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