Jim Bibbs: One of the greatest MSU coaches in history

Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 5:13 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Michigan State University has had many great coaches in its history, and perhaps none more prominent than former longtime track and field coach Jim Bibbs.

Bibbs is enjoying retirement and still lives in East Lansing. He hasn’t coached at Michigan State in 26 years, but Jim Bibbs is still very active at the tender age of 92. He’s lived in the same East Lansing home for 50 years, and his memories of his 28 years coaching at MSU are vivid.

Bibbs said, “Blessed. Blessed to have people like Herb Washington, Marshall Dill, and really blessed when people like Judi Brown just move in. They make you a good coach.”

Bibbs was a star athlete back in the day at Ecorse High School. His first love was baseball--in fact he was offered a contract by the New York Yankees and St. Louis Browns.

“I think it was 500 a month [they were offering] or something like that,” Bibbs recalled. “My dad said ‘No, you’re going back to college,’ case closed-- there wasn’t no discussion or arguing-- no you’re going back to school. Track turned out to be good to me and after I see these kids throw the ball a hundred miles an hour, I’m glad I picked it.”

Among Bibbs’ most cherished possessions is a quilt that was gifted to him many years ago, highlighting his life and his accomplishments-- including a 50 year marriage to his wife, Martha, whom he lost six months ago. What Tom Izzo is to Michigan State Basketball, Jim Bibbs is to Michigan State track & field. Biggie Munn gave him his first coaching opportunity and frankly Bibbs put his sport on the map athletically. Not only is he a member of Michigan State’s hall of fame, he is in 6 hall of fames.

“I’ve had a great life,” Bibbs said. “I don’t know if it’s going to last two more hours or... two more days or how many more years? I don’t know, but I’ve been very blessed.”

Among his distinctions as an athlete-- Bibbs shares a world record in sprinting with the great Olympian Jessie Owens.

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