Lyle H. Smith, the son of Burrel F. Smith and Addie (Humphrey) Smith, was born March 17, 1916, in the rural town of Steptoe, Washington. He attended Moscow High School in Moscow, Idaho, where he was actively involved in sports, playing varsity football and basketball for two consecutive years. Smith distinguished himself in both sports and for his efforts he was awarded a high school letter for each. In 1933 and 1934, Smith helped the Moscow High School basketball squad win the coveted title of "State Champions". Also, in 1933 he was chosen amongst his colleagues to represent Moscow High School on the "All State Team".
On May 23, 1934, Smith graduated from Moscow High School. In the fall of that year, he entered the University of Idaho Southern Branch in Pocatello, as a physical education major and graduated from the University of Idaho in Moscow on June 5, 1939 with a Bachelor of Science in Education with a minor in history. Also, he was the center for the University of Idaho football team and guard for the basketball team. Upon graduating from college, Smith began what would be a lifelong career of teaching and coaching. From September of 1939 to May of 1949, he taught social sciences and physical education at Moscow High School, where he also coached athletics and served as the "M" club advisor.
With the United States entrance into World War II, LyleSmith, like many of his generation, entered the military to participate in the war effort. In June of 1942, Smith was notified of his acceptance into the Naval Reserve. On June 15, 1942, Smith reported to the Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, to start school in the Navy's V-5 Physical Fitness Instructor Course. On August 29, 1942, after completing the V-5 course, Smith was assigned to the Navy's Pre-Flight School at St. Mary's College in California as a Physical Training Officer. In September of 1943, Smith was transferred from St. Mary's College to the U.S. Naval Air Station in Livermore, California. At Livermore he instructed Aviation Cadets in physical education and standard military training. In 1944, the United States began to intensify the war effort in the Pacific theater and with this LyleSmith was reassigned to Pearl Harbor in September of that year. While in Pearl Harbor he worked at the Naval Supply Depot where he supervised the handling of cargo that was being prepared for the supply lines in the Pacific. He served at Pearl Harbor until November 1, 1945, at which time he was released from active duty and transferred back to the continental United States to process out of the Navy in Los Angeles, California.
With the Japanese surrender in 1945, the Second World War ended and many of America's soldiers that returned home took advantage of the educational benefits being offered to them by the United States government. For LyleSmith this meant an opportunity to return to the University of Idaho to attend Graduate School. In 1946, Smith received a Master of Science in Education from the University of Idaho. To fulfill the requirements for his Masters Degree, Smith wrote a professional paper titles "A Recreational Program for the Youth of a City under 10,000 Population".
In 1946, Smith came to Boise Junior College (BJC) to fill the position of assistant to head football coach Harry Jacoby. A year later, Jacoby resigned and Smith became the head football coach for BJC, a position he held until the end of 1967 football season. Smith left an impressive record in his 21 years of coaching at Boise Junior/State College with a record of 158 wins, 25 losses, and 6 ties. Under his leadership, the Broncos were invited to seven post-season Junior College Bowl Games such as the Potato Bowl and Little Rose Bowl. In 1949, Smith took BJC to Bakersfield, California to play in the Kern County Shrine Potato Bowl where in front of 12,000 fans BJC upset Taft Junior College with a final score of 25 to 7. In the middle of the 1950 football season LyleSmith, like many other veterans of World War II, was called back into military service for the Korean War but resumed coaching duties in August of 1952 upon returning home. In 1958, at Bronco Stadium, BJC defeated Tyler College of Texas, thus winning the National Junior College Athletic Association Championship, a victory that gave them the honor of being the number one Junior College football team in the country that year. In addition to coaching football, LyleSmith also served as a baseball coach for Boise Junior/State College club team.
In his 21 years as head football coach, Smith's teams remained a dominant figure in the Intermountain Collegiate Athletic Conference winning the conference title 16 out of 21 times. In January of 1968, Smith officially resigned as head football coach and was rehired in March to serve as Boise State College's Director of Athletics, a position he held until retirement in 1981. During his tenure as Athletic Director, Bronco Stadium was built and construction on the Pavilion was started. On September 11, 1970, BJC's football field was dedicated as the "LyleSmith Field".
View the Lyle Smith Papers finding aid.
Homepage photo: Lyle Smith in Bronco Stadium circa 1959.