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Lyle Smith
Born (1916-03-17)March 17, 1916
Steptoe, Washington
Died July 26, 2017(2017-07-26) (aged 101)
Boise, Idaho
Lyle Smith
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1942–1945, 1950–1952
Rank US-O3 insignia Lieutenant [1]
Unit Training
Battles/wars World War II, Korean War

Lyle Hilton Smith (March 17, 1916 – July 26, 2017)[2] was an American football and basketball player, coach, and college athletics administrator.[3]

He served as the head football coach at Boise Junior College—now Boise State University—from 1947 to 1967 (except for military duty),[1][4] compiling a record of .846. Smith was also the head basketball coach at BJC for one season in 1946–47, tallying a mark of 24–9, and the school athletic director from 1968 to 1981. Boise was a junior college program during Smith's coaching career; it moved up to four-year status in the NAIA in 1968, NCAA Division II in 1970, Division I-AA in 1978, and Division I-A in 1996.

Early life and playing careerEdit

Born in Steptoe, Washington, to Burrell F. and Addie (Humphrey) Smith,[3][5] Smith's father and older brothers were ranchers.[6][7] Raised on the Palouse in Steptoe and Moscow, Idaho, Smith graduated from Moscow High School in 1934, after leading the Bears to consecutive state titles in basketball.[8][9] He initially attended the University of Idaho's Southern Branch in Pocatello[10]—now Idaho State University— for a year and then returned to his hometown to attend the University of Idaho, where he was a two-sport athlete for the Vandals, a center on the football team under head coach Ted Bank,[11] and a guard on the basketball team, coached by Forrest Twogood.[12][13] His teammates at Idaho included future coaches Steve Belko[13][14][15] and Tony Knap.[16][17]

During Smith's senior football season of 1938, the team went 6–3–1,[18] the Vandals' best record in over a decade; Idaho's last winning season in football for a quarter century[19] and the best until 1971. Idaho was 2–2–1 in Northern Division play in the Pacific Coast Conference and undefeated in the four non-conference games, including a 16–0 shutout in the season finale in Salt Lake City over undefeated Utah, winner of its conference.[20][21] The Vandals broke to an early 3–0–1 start and there was early talk of the Rose Bowl in the national press.[22] Smith received a bachelor's degree in education in 1939 and embarked on a teaching career.[23]

Military service and coaching careerEdit

Smith taught and coached for a year at Firth High School in southeastern Idaho,[24][25] then married fellow 1939 UI graduate Maria Raphael[26] of Weiser in 1940 and returned to Moscow to work in private employment in auto sales.[24] He became head coach at Moscow High School in the spring of 1941,[27] when Babe Brown crossed town to coach the Vandal freshmen.[28] Smith entered the U.S. Navy in June 1942 during World War II.[29]

Smith served primarily as a physical training instructor, and returned to Moscow and completed his master's degree in education in 1946.[3] He was to return to the high school as head coach, but resigned in August[30] to accept an offer to be an assistant football coach at Boise Junior College, and became its head coach the following year. Riding a 31-game winning streak in 1950, the team moved into a new Bronco Stadium#Bronco Stadium (I)|10,000-seat stadium. With the outbreak of the Korean War, Smith missed all but the first three games of the 1950 season[4] and the entire 1951 season due to military duty.[1] He returned in 1952 and was a leading candidate for the vacant job at his alma mater Idaho in 1954, but withdrew his name from consideration, content at Boise.[31][32] Boise won thirteen conference titles in football under Smith and the NJCAA National Football Championship in 1958.[3]

Administrative career and honorsEdit

Smith stepped down as head coach and became the school's first full-time athletic director in November 1967; the Broncos began competition as a four-year school in 1968.[33] He hired former Vandal teammate Tony Knap as head coach in December,[34] and Knap's successor Jim Criner in 1976.[35] Smith continued as head baseball coach through the 1973 season, then was succeeded by Ross Vaughn, a Ph.D. candidate in biomechanics and assistant coach at Washington State.[36][37][38]

Smith retired at age 65 in July 1981, succeeded by Mike Mullally of Cal State-Fullerton.[39][40] After just months on the job, Mullally resigned under pressure after a backlash at his new priority seating policy.[41][42] He was replaced in March 1982 by assistant Gene Bleymaier,[42] who stayed for nearly three decades. Smith was a key advisor during Bleymaier's first years as director.[43][44]

At the final regular season home game before his retirement as athletic director, the playing field at Bronco Stadium was dedicated in Smith's honor on November 8, 1980.[45][46] Boise State won the game over Nevada to secure the conference title and one of the four Division I-AA playoff berths in December. BSU won the opening-round semifinal over Grambling in Boise on "Lyle Smith Field" and the national title in Sacramento over defending champion Eastern Kentucky.[47] Smith turned 100 in March 2016,[48] and died in July 2017 at age 101.[49]

Head coaching recordEdit


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Boise Junior College Broncos (Intermtn CAC) (1947–1950)
1947 Boise JC 9–0 1st
1948 Boise JC 9–0 1st
1949 Boise JC 10–0 1st
1950 Boise JC 9–1 1st
Boise Junior College Broncos (Intermtn CAC) (1952–1967)
1952 Boise JC 8–1 1st
1953 Boise JC 8–1 1st
1954 Boise JC 9–1–1 1st
1955 Boise JC 7–2
1956 Boise JC 8–0–1 1st
1957 Boise JC 9–1 1st
1958 Boise JC 10–0 1st
1959 Boise JC 7–2–1
1960 Boise JC 8–2
1961 Boise JC 9–1 1st
1962 Boise JC 5–2–2
1963 Boise JC 5–3–1
1964 Boise JC 8–2
1965 Boise JC 9–2 1st
1966 Boise JC 9–1 1st
1967 Boise JC 6–4
Boise JC: 156–26–6
Total: 156–26–6
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title
Indicates Bowl Coalition, Bowl Alliance, BCS, or CFP / New Years' Six bowl.</br>


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Boise coach returns to head grid post". (Spokane, Washington). August 8, 1952. p. 11.,2929675. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Lyle H. Smith collection". Special Collections. Boise State University. Retrieved October 12, 2011. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Ourada, Patricia K. (1994). "The Broncos: A History of Boise State University, 1932-1994". p. 97. Retrieved August 29, 2012. 
  5. "Burrell Smith dead at 78". (Idaho). April 26, 1958. p. 6.,7547949. 
  6. Hedberg, Kathy (July 3, 1994). "Brothers, ranchers". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). p. 1C. 
  7. "Justin Smith, 87, longtime Idaho County rancher". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). December 4, 1996. p. 6A. 
  8. "Nampa favored to win 2d title". (Washington). March 10, 1951. p. 8.,3779466. 
  9. Archived 2012-10-01 at the Wayback Machine. - Basketball - Idaho high school state champions - through 2011
  10. "Branch eleven to engage Colorado". (Idaho). November 11, 1934. p. 8.,5527157&dq=lyle+smith+moscow&hl=en. 
  11. "Football: Lyle Smith". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1939. p. 309. 
  12. "Two Vandal cagers fitted for glasses". (Spokane, Washington). December 31, 1938. p. 12.,4632358. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Basketball". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1939. p. 315. 
  14. "Belko and Smith lead Vandal five". (Washington). March 23, 1938. p. 11.,5351680. 
  15. "Football: 1937 player photos". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1938. p. 179. 
  16. "Idaho Vandals work for game". (Spokane, Washington). November 4, 1936. p. 15. 
  17. "Football: 1938 team photo". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1939. p. 300. 
  18. "Football". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1939. p. 300. 
  19. Johnson, Bob (February 1, 1965). "Dee Andros named Oregon State grid coach". (Washington). p. 15. 
  20. "Idaho machine rolls over Utah". November 25, 1938. p. 11. 
  21. "Idaho results: (1935-1939)". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved August 29, 2012. 
  22. "Idaho in Rose Bowl? It surely can happen". October 21, 1938. p. 9.,180979. 
  23. "Seniors". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1939. p. 78. 
  24. 24.0 24.1 "Idaho man conducts at Hollywood Bowl". (Washington). July 9, 1940. p. 3.,1656831&dq=lyle+smith&hl=en. 
  25. "Merle Stoddard will be coach". (Washington). August 29, 1940. p. 14.,6465380. 
  26. "Seniors". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1939. p. 77. 
  27. "Moscow High School gets bear cub for mascot". Spokane, Washington. August 31, 1941. p. 2B.,5022310. 
  28. "Babe Brown to coach freshman at university". (Idaho). March 25, 1941. p. 8.,6246773. 
  29. "Lyle Smith receives notification from navy". (Spokane, Washington). June 12, 1942. p. 15.,3248919. 
  30. "Lyle Smith resigns as Moscow coach". Idaho. August 14, 1946. p. 8.,3120242. 
  31. "Idaho plans thorough search for grid coach; Curfman out". Washington. December 22, 1953. p. 12.,4516937&dq=lyle+smith&hl=en. 
  32. "Boise football coach out of Idaho picture". Washington. February 6, 1954. p. 8.,1634881. 
  33. "Smith appointed athletic director". (Idaho). November 8, 1967. p. 16.,1515332. 
  34. "Lions lose assistant coach". (Regina, Saskatchewan). December 15, 1967. p. 31.,3207581. 
  35. "Boise St. hires UCLA grid assistant". (Idaho). February 14, 1976. p. 4B. 
  36. Prentice, George (April 24, 2013). "Ross Vaughn: Boise State's boy of summer heads for home". Boise Weekly. Retrieved August 18, 2017. 
  37. Squires, Sherry (May 22, 2014). "New scholarship to honor Ross Vaughn". Boise State University. Retrieved August 18, 2017. 
  38. "Ross E. Vaughn". Boise State University. Retrieved August 18, 2017. 
  39. "Mullally new A.D.?". (Pennsylvania). May 12, 1981. p. 27. 
  40. "Boise names director". (Spokane, Washington). May 13, 1981. p. C3. 
  41. "Boise's A.D. quits over ticket furor". (Spokane, Washington). March 2, 1982. p. 19. 
  42. 42.0 42.1 "Boise sacks AD over ticket flap". (Bend, Oregon). March 2, 1982. p. D3. 
  43. "Boise AD out". (Washington). March 2, 1982. p. 14.,279826. 
  44. Cripe, Chadd (September 8, 2011). "Quiet exit: Gene Bleymaier closes career as Boise State athletic director". Retrieved August 29, 2012. 
  45. Boise State Broncos game day program - 1980-11-08 - Dedication of Lyle Smith Field - p. 8
  46. "If Reno beats Boise State, there will be a mad scramble for Big Sky title". (Idaho). November 7, 1980. p. 3B.,2786703. 
  47. "Boise State results: (1980-1984)". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved August 29, 2012. 
  48. Katz, Michael (2016-03-17). "Legendary Boise State Coach Lyle Smith Celebrates 100th Birthday". 

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