Richard "Digger" Phelps spent 20 years as head coach of Notre Dame. Now, after another 20 as a college basketball analyst for ESPN, he is moving on to the next chapter in his life.
The "Silver Fox" announced Monday that he is retiring from his current role, via Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch:
Digger Phelps is retiring from his ESPN role.— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) April 8, 2014
After a pair of seasons with CBS Sports following his tenure with the Irish, Phelps joined ESPN prior to the 1993-94 college basketball campaign. With ESPN, he worked in the studio, was a part of the College GameDay crew, called select games as the color man and did much more.
Upon the announcement of his retirement, there was an outpouring of support. ESPN's Bill Hofheimer and Keri Potts offered their words of praise:
Digger Phelps is retiring from ESPN after 20 yrs. End of an era. Brought smart analysis and passion to our coverage. Will be missed.— bill hofheimer (@bhofheimer_espn) April 8, 2014
The Silver Fox signs off. Best of luck, Digger Phelps. Such a pleasure to work with. Made hoops Saturdays fun.— Keri Potts (@MsPotts_ESPN) April 8, 2014
Whether you like him or not, Phelps has served as one of the staples of this sport for the past decade, and he will certainly be missed.
Of course, Rece Davis, via ESPN's Mike Humes, noted that the 72-year-old's impact on the world extends far beyond college basketball:
Rece Davis: "Digger's legacy extends beyond college basketball, the work he's done in New Orleans, work he's done in Memphis"— Mike Humes (@MikeHumesESPN) April 8, 2014
So what's next for Digger? It's not known at this point, but he joked about a run at succeeding Barack Obama, via Potts:
Digger Phelps says goodbye "20 years has always been my target for everything" alludes to a 2016 prez run because "The nation needs a coach"— Keri Potts (@MsPotts_ESPN) April 8, 2014
If that's what he wants, then so be it. Digger has worked his behind off for the past 40-plus years, and he deserves to enjoy his time off however he wants.
He is the author of seven books, per ESPN, so perhaps more writing will be in the cards. But if he just wants to sit back, relax and enjoy retirement, then that's fine, too.
Phelps has earned it.