Fisher Keeps Michigan Job and Title That Goes With It
Finally, Steve Fisher is just plain coach.
Named as Michigan’s interim coach two days before the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. basketball tournament, Fisher took the Wolverines to their first national championship, and was officially rewarded Monday when the “interim” was removed from his title.
Fisher, an assistant for seven seasons, took over on March 15 after Bill Frieder accepted the job at Arizona State and was told he could not finish out the season with Michigan. The Wolverines scored six victories, including an 80-79 overtime win over Seton Hall in the title game at Seattle.
“The dream lives on,” Fisher, 44, said at a joint news conference with Bo Schembechler, the football coach who doubles as athletic director. “I said before, ‘Pinch me on Tuesday,’ but I didn’t want to wake up. I still don’t want to wake up.”
There was overwhelming support for Fisher, both locally and by the media, after he led a talented group of underachievers through six tournament games. But Schembechler wouldn’t be stampeded.
“I wasn’t going to be pressed into an emotional decision,” Schembechler said. “I wanted to be cool, calculated, and study it from every angle. It always came up Steve Fisher.”
Schembechler wanted most of all to be sure rumors of improprieties in Frieder’s program either were untrue or didn’t involve Fisher.
For example, a high school player Frieder recruited for Michigan recently got a new car. The prospect had to convince Schembechler that his mother bought the car.
“I think Steve is a forceful disciplinarian even though he doesn’t give you that impression,” Schembechler said. “Let’s face it, tomorrow the honeymoon is over and it’ll really be over when the season starts next fall. Coaching’s a tough business, I can tell you that.”
But the decision didn’t turn out to be that tough.
“The more I thought about it, the more I was convinced we had the right guy right here,” Schembechler said. “He was thrown into the breech and showed a lot of moxie.”
Terms weren’t disclosed, but Fisher is expected to receive a one-year contract, which is standard for all Michigan coaches. Fisher probably will be paid about $85,000 a year, but an expected shoe contract worth about $100,000, money from basketball camps and radio shows could push Fisher’s income to an estimated $450,000 annually.
“His contract is the same as mine, which is forever,” Schembechler quipped.
Fisher, who said he lost 15 pounds off an already-lean frame during the tournament and his subsequent wait, said he will retain Mike Boyd as his No. 1 assistant and move Brian Dutcher up to a full-time position.
Fisher was an assistant at Western Michigan for three seasons before going to Michigan.