Lyle Smith taking in a Boise State football practice is still a fairly common sight, but Thursday was the most special of all.
Smith, the undoubted godfather of Boise State football, turned 100 years old Thursday, and as he has hundreds upon hundreds of times, celebrated by watching the Broncos.
“It’s another day,” Smith said with a smile. “... I’ve been so fortunate to have the folks around me (I’ve had). It’s unbelievable how the program has improved, along with the growth of the school year after year. It’s a much better game than when I was coaching.”
Following practice, Boise State coach Bryan Harsin had the team gather around Smith, discussing his importance to the program. The team then sang him “Happy Birthday” before the man who lost just 26 times in 188 games as Boise Junior College’s coach spoke a bit. He also was given a No. 100 jersey to commemorate the day.
“It’s a blessing,” Harsin said. “... I think for everybody sitting there, there’s a tremendous amount of respect. For him to be out here, it means a lot to us for him to spend his birthday with us, to be a part of what we’re doing, that’s the type of person he is.”
The players enjoyed the visit and honoring the man who started Boise State football’s ascent to where it is now.
“It’s huge, really respect him, he’s 100 years old and his mind is as good as it was probably 25 years ago,” senior defensive tackle Elliot Hoyte said. “It’s important for us ... it shows that after football, it still goes on, it’s a brotherhood, doesn’t matter if you’re 18 or 17 coming in or 100, it’s everyone’s home.”
Harsin noted Smith established the attitude that pervades the program, starting from a junior college to moving up the ranks and being a consistent top-25 team.
“We’re still talking blue collar, that’s what we are,” Harsin said. “That’s what this place is, always will be, and we take a lot of pride in that ... this place was designed from that hard work.”