Steve Fisher revived his career, SDSU

Or when they think you need one.

SDSU officials will break ground on that new practice facility in the coming months. From his grand office on campus -- think midsized condominium -- Fisher smiles about it all as he stares out the window through his thin-framed glasses and swivels in his black leather chair.

Yeah, it's just a building, but it will give the Aztecs more flexibility with practice times. Plus, these trinkets tend to boost recruiting, although the climate usually helps Fisher's pitch.

"The weather and the girls," Thames says, "that helped a lot, too."

Fisher's achievement with Rice and Co. in the national title game 25 years ago commenced this initial ascent. That's where it all began. His murky departure from Michigan, however, is now just a footnote in his career. Fisher is judged by many by what he's doing now.

And right now, he's the author of a remarkable story.

At the outset, it appeared that San Diego State would never reach this place. And there were no guarantees that Fisher would, either.

But here they are, overtaking some of the nation's blue-chip programs in the rankings and stealing their recruits, too. Just 15 years ago, the Aztecs were afterthoughts in their own community. Now they're a national title contender in a packed arena.

"He's been redeemed, but it doesn't surprise me at all," Frieder says.

But Fisher resents that word: redemption.

"I don't like to call it that," he says. "I have great pride in what I did back at Michigan. We had great success. ... It didn't end the way I wanted it to end. The last chapter wasn't good. But I think that what we're doing now is we're proving to people that might have doubted [that] there's substance there and they can coach and teach and they're good, honest, honorable people. But I knew that. I wasn't out to prove that."

Maybe SDSU will name a building after him one day.

And maybe he'll smile when the sun's rays kiss the letters as he drives by.

Maybe, Fisher will admit then that redemption is the only word that fits.

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