BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – For the past 10 years, legendary Michigan State coach Tom Izzo has had Dane Fife right by his side on the Spartans bench. Dwayne Stephens and Mike Garland have been there, too, all of them. It's the longest-tenured coaching staff in all of college basketball.
But on Monday, Fife announced that he was leaving Michigan State to return to Indiana, his alma mater. He's joining Mike Woodson's staff in Bloomington, returning home to where he played from 1998 to 2002.
Izzo was sad to see him go, but he was happy for Fife and his family, who are returning ''to their second home'' in Bloomington.
"I'm thrilled for Dane to get this opportunity at Indiana,'' Izzo said. "He is getting the chance to go back to his alma mater and return to a place that he and his wife have considered a second home.''
"Dane has been a tremendous asset to our program over the last 10 years and has been a big part of the success we've had. He is a born coach, has been a hard worker and committed to Michigan State from the time he arrived here. We will obvious miss him, his wife Blair, and their daughters, Quinnley and Reagan, but wish him all the best as he takes this next step in his career and returns to his alma mater.''
Fife's hiring was announced on Monday. Contract details emerged on Tuesday. Fife will earn $375,000 plus bonuses.
Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez retiring
Barry Alvarez's long and successful career at Wisconsin is coming to an end on June 30. The former football coach and current athletic director will retire on June 30, he said Tuesday.
The 74-year-old Alvarez has led Wisconsin's athletic department since 2004 and he was the Badgers' football coach from 1990 to 2005, when he revived the program with three Big Ten championships and three Rose Bowl victories.
Alvarez is the active athletic director with the third-longest tenure at one major program, trailing only Oklahoma's Joe Castiglione and Kentucky's Mitch Barnhart.
"It has been an honor to be a part of Wisconsin Athletics and I take great pride in all we have accomplished over the last three decades," Alvarez said in a statement released by the school. "From championships, to improvements on campus, to impacting thousands of student-athletes, it's been a great ride. I'm grateful for the support, generosity, enthusiasm and loyalty of Badgers in the state of Wisconsin and beyond. Thank you."
Wisconsin won 16 team national titles and 74 conference regular-season or tournament championships during Alvarez's tenure as athletic director. The Badgers football team had gone 9-36 in the four seasons before Alvarez's arrival. After a 1-10 debut in 1990, the Badgers in 1993 won the Big Ten and the Rose Bowl, finishing No. 6 nationally. Wisconsin won the Big Ten and the Rose Bowl again in 1998 and 1999.
Alvarez went 119-72-4 as Wisconsin's coach in his 1990-2005 tenure, then later stepped in to coach the team in the 2013 Rose Bowl (loss) and the 2015 Outback Bowl (win).
Ohio State's Day defends Fields' character
Ohio State football coach Ryan Day said is bothered by the negative talk around Justin Fields, his standout quarterback the past two years.
Day said that draftniks have the right to pick apart his specific physical skills, but he's upset when they attack his character, especially when they get it wrong, he said.
“Yeah, there’s a lot of talk out there, and I guess maybe they think they know him better than I do,” Day said. “When I think of Justin Fields, I think of somebody who got off the field against Clemson and for the next year just grinded towards getting back to that same situation and winning that game. It started with the offseason. He got in here and he was one of the hardest workers in the weight room with Mick.
"Then it went to the quarantine, and during that time, [strength and conditioning coach] Mick Marotti actually said that [Fields] inspired him. Justin Fields inspired Mick Marotti. He changed his diet. His work ethic was off the charts. He came in here in great shape. Then we get here and the preseason gets canceled, the season gets canceled. He doesn’t opt out and go to the NFL Draft. Some guys did.
“So, I’ve heard all kinds of different things, I don’t know what people have said and what they haven’t. I read stuff on my phone, I don’t quite understand any of that stuff. Love for football? There are a lot of guys who opted out. Are they saying the same things about those guys who didn’t want to play? Now, not only does he not opt out, he fights to get the season back. He has a petition, he goes on national TV and fights to get the season back. Then he comes out and plays — and plays really well.”
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