There's sure to be plenty of buzz around the Bronco facility today, not only because Spring football trudges on in the march toward Spring Break, but because as practice wraps this morning around 10:30, they're expecting a special visitor. This visitor is certainly no stranger to the complex—he can be found regularly in the weight room, cruising the sidelines in a golf cart, or mindfully watching from the sky box. This visitor doesn't need any special pass or identification...his visage is more familiar to Bronco Nation than any other. In fact, there is positively no denying that the visitor has seen more Bronco football than any other, and no other individual's contributed to the success of the program more fully. The visitor's name adorns the very sidelines he used to so dutifully stalk—the visitor, as you had probably already guessed is former coach and AD Lyle Smith—and the man wants some cake.
Lyle Smith was born on this very date in 1916...making today, as luck would have it—his birthday. Like most any other year, Smith will spend his birthday around the Bronco football team. Last year, he was presented a '99' Fiesta Bowl jersey with his name emblazoned on the back—this year, Dale Holste is sweating at the prospect of another customized jersey, because today, Lyle Smith adds a third digit to his jersey—the father of Bronco football is 100. 100 is a significant milestone for anyone—only about .018 percent of the US population can boast the 'centenarian' tag, but Lyle Smith is used to beating long odds, and his 70 years of service to the Bronco football team will never see an equal.
"Bronco football is the essence of my entire life...but it’s the young men that take part in the program, we’ve had a few fall through the cracks, a few bumps in the road, but all in all it’s been a great trip."
Lyle Smith joined the Boise State football family in 1946...a year from the end of World War II, and just four years after himself enlisting in the U.S. Naval Reserves. Smith came to Boise to serve as assistant to head football coach Harry Jacoby. Jacoby wasn't long for the position and resigned one year later, it was then that Smith took the helm and virtually never looked back. For the next 21 years, Smith helmed the Bronco football team (save for a couple of years when he served in the Korean War), and to say his stint was a success would be a gross understatement. In his 21 years under the fedora, his Broncos won 16 conference titles, appeared in 7 bowl games, and won a NJCAA national title (in 1958). All told, Smith piloted the Broncos to 158 wins and just 25 losses before handing the reins to Bronco legend Tony Knap...but even then, Smith couldn't truly step away from his beloved Broncos. In 1968, Smith became the Boise State athletic director, and served in that role until 1981. That's 35 straight years of bleeding blue and orange, and that's literally just the half of it.
So, what more can you say about a man that means so much to Bronco Nation? No "hail fellow, well met" can really suffice. Smith, to put it plainly IS Bronco football, and as cynical as it seems to say "and many more" to someone who has already lived a century on this earth, Lyle Smith will be around precisely as long as he wants to be...and he'll be bleeding blue all the while. So, happy birthday, Lyle Smith, and with all the sincerity we can muster "...and MANY more".