Michigan coach John Beilein talks about the team still playing for Big Ten regular-season title and one of four double byes for conference tournament. James Hawkins, The Detroit News
Ann Arbor — John Beilein has been hopeful one day he’d be able to bring former Michigan coach Steve Fisher back on campus.
That day will finally come Sunday when Fisher will be on hand for the Michigan-Michigan State game at Crisler Center, where the Wolverines will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the 1989 national championship team.
“It's tremendous,” Beilein said Wednesday. “We're talking about having a reunion again where we think we've got tremendous numbers. But having that '89 team and Steve Fisher come back is tremendous.
“He's excited, I'm excited and the same thing with that whole team. I think we have 80 percent, 90 percent of that team is coming back. It's good and hopefully it'll bring karma into the arena.”
Beilein hinted something was in the works during last season’s NCAA Tournament run when he was asked about the possibility of setting up a visit after Fisher had retired from coaching in 2017.
"Steve Fisher and I have been friends long back when he was Michigan coach,” Beilein said at the time. “He has gone out of his way over and over again to when I'm on the road, I'm traveling, whatever, the Nike trips, we have actually spent a lot of time together. Steve's a close friend, and I know that's in the plans."
Fisher was the helm when Michigan won its lone national title in 1989 after he took over for Bill Frieder, who was replaced by then-athletic director Bo Schembechler after Frieder accepted a job at Arizona State. Fisher guided the team on a six-game run through the NCAA Tournament with wins over Xavier, South Alabama, North Carolina, Virginia, Illinois and Seton Hall.
Fisher then led the Wolverines to back-to-back national title game appearances with the famed "Fab Five" in 1992 and 1993 before was fired in 1997 due to fallout from the Ed Martin payment scandal.
Fisher denied having any knowledge of the money Martin, a former booster, gave to several players during his time with the program. While Fisher was never punished by the NCAA, he was still found at fault for allowing Martin access to his players and for his involvement in violations that stemmed from the scandal.
After tallying 185 wins and three Final Four appearances in nine seasons at Michigan, Fisher went on to record 386 wins in 18 seasons at San Diego State before he retired following the 2016-17 season.
“He's a great friend, and he did a fantastic job at Michigan, and he's a great friend of mine," Beilein said last March. "And we're always thinking how we can bring former coaches and former players back. We've really done a great job. He's been coaching at San Diego State. So, he could never make it back to some of our reunions.
"That's something we're very hopeful to do in the future."
That hope will finally turn into a reality on Sunday.