Just before his 100th birthday the “Father of Boise State Football,” Lyle Smith sat down to talk with 6 On Your Side Sports Director Dan Hawk about how the football program has grown over the last 60 years.
From the humble roots of a junior college football team to a division one powerhouse, the history of Boise State football owes itself to Smith’s guidance and support.
Smith’s historic legacy has been felt by every coach leading the Broncos since.
“It’s because of Coach Smith, it’s because of the standards that he set for coaches to follow once he was gone,” current Boise State Coach Bryan Harsin said. “That may be one of the reasons why we are different because we’ve had somebody pave the way for this program and develop it essentially into what it is today because of those standards"
Even after retirement, Smith would attend BSU practice sessions and games to root on players.
“I also think back to some of best practice days at Boise State. That’s when Coach Smith would show up, sit over in the corner in his chair and just take things in and observe,” former Boise State coach and current University of Washington Head Coach Chris Petersen explained. “I would come over there and kinda’ tell by the look on his face where he thought we were getting something done or things weren't quite good enough, he would always give a couple of words of wisdom and I really appreciated that it was amazing how spot on he was."
Smith set the bar high in his first four seasons.
"Timing is everything and in Lyle's time, obviously, he was ahead of the game. My perception would be that he would be ahead of the game even at the Division 1 level today. He put everything into it. He loved the players and he cared about people. I think Lyle would have been a huge success even at the Division 1 level today," former Boise State Head Coach Skip Hall said.
“I’ve often compared him saying Lyle Smith is to Boise State what John Wooden is to UCLA. He’s just a great individual and obviously was a fantastic coach but an even better human being. Boise State would not be where it is today, plain and simple if it wasn't for Lyle Smith," former BSU Athletic Director Gene Bleymaier said during a Skype interview.
"No good business or good family or any program does anything without a foundation and I think he really started that foundation and put that foundation of hard work, trust, and integrity,” former Boise State University Head Coach Dan Hawkins said. “People believed in him and the program continued to build. He was here for the run as a coach and as the athletic director and ushered it from a junior college into a Division 2 program and then ushered it into Division 1-AA. It really phenomenal all the buttons he’s pushed along the way."