99-year-old BSU legend talks with 6 On Your Side

Posted at 6:08 PM, Mar 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-03 00:42:33-05

The year was 1946 and Boise State was still a small junior college.

Lyle Smith was an assistant football coach eager to take the reins of the program and in 1947 he was suddenly promoted to head coach, a position he held for 21 years.

A legend during his day, and a man who many Idahoans still consider the “Father of Bronco Football,” Smith had a storied career in the City of Trees and BSU underwent a rapid transformation under his leadership.

Smith grew up in Steptoe, Washington near Moscow where he would ultimately attend the University of Idaho as a two-sport athlete.  Smith was a center on the football team and a guard on the basketball team.

Eventually, Smith would move to Boise at age 30 to begin his time with BSU as an assistant coach.

"I consider this pretty much life. It’s a far cry from when I first came to the campus here, you can stand on Capitol Boulevard and see the cars go by. It’s been a remarkable trip," Smith said.

During his time with the Broncos, Smith led them to seven junior college bowl games with an overall record of 158 wins and 25 losses.

Smith retired with 16 conference championships under his belt.

"The credit goes to the young men. I don't think I ever came up with great things in coaching other than having good athletes and young men wanted to get the job done," Smith explained.

In 1950, Smith was called to the military to fight in Korea with the United States Navy before returning to BSU as head coach in 1952.

In 1958, Smith led BSU to become the number one football team in the nation with the defeat of Tyler College of Texas in the title game.

Smith could’ve left Boise to pursue other opportunities following his retirement but realized Boise was always going to be his home.

"I went down to the river and shot a limit of greenheads. Came back by at noon and got my fishing pole and went down behind the gym and caught a mess of fish in the Boise River, not many places you could do that. I love this community," Smith said.

Although Smith is 99 years old, the fire and excitement of Boise State athletics has never faded.

“I can't imagine being anything else. I’m so fortunate that we’re in a community like we are.  I find I’m a little slower but I still enjoy watching these young men perform today."