Two years ago, Steve Smyte moved his teenage daughters from Sacramento — the only home they'd ever known — to Boise to coach wide receivers at Boise State.
Last year, Smyte missed wedding anniversary No. 21 with his wife Rose while on the road recruiting.
That comes with being a college football coach. The moves and the special occasions spent far away from the party, it's part of the bargain.
So, too, is this: Smyte is the lone full-time assistant from last year's Boise State coaching staff who did not join Dan Hawkins' staff at Colorado or remain with Chris Petersen at Boise State.
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Safeties coach Robert Tucker recently joined Hawkins' staff as the assistant director of football operations.
Now Smyte, 45, is searching for work on his — and his families' — terms.
"It's got to be something that's good for my family. I'm not going to move them out somewhere just to take another job i n the middle of nowhere just because that's what's available now. You've got to have more foresight than that," Smyte said.
"If it was just me, it makes it a lot easier. But the benefits and completeness you have as an individual by having a family far outweigh the sacrifices that you make."
Smyte said he has turned down several opportunities to interview for positions in the East because the women in his life — Rose and daughters Alexondra, a high school junior, and Julianna, a high school sophomore — vetoed it.
"Their response was, especially my wife and my youngest, here or back (to Sacramento). There are only two options," said Smyte, who is pursuing professional opportunities in California. "That's basically it. And I understand that. Having moved them once, I don't want them to have to do that again."
Such is the life of an assistant coach's family — a
near-constant parade of packing and unpacking, of enrolling in different schools and making different friends. The head coach, the one who is hired and fired, gains the headlines. But the disruption for other families is just as great.
"When it happens to the head coach, it happens to nine other families. The negative thing is the moving. If you do really well, there's a good chance you're moving. And if you do really bad, there's a good chance you're moving," said Petersen, who has two young sons and resisted offers from various schools, including a chance to join Hawkins' staff at Colorado, to remain at Boise State.
Smyte said he told Hawkins early on that he was not interested in moving to Boulder, though there's no guarantee there would have been a spot on the Buffaloes' staff for him.
When Petersen promoted Bryan Harsin to offensive coordinator, Smyte said he he "felt like it was the end of the road" for his coaching tenure at Boise State.
Smyte, who is under contract with the school through June, said he holds no ill will toward Hawkins, Petersen or the other assistants.
"I enjoyed all those guys," said Smyte, who was careful not to say that he regretted leaving UC Davis, where he'd coached for nine seasons, to join the BSU staff in 2004. "All of them are great guys. They'll be lifelong friends."
Still, the fact remains that all of them know where their paychecks will be coming from this fall while Smyte hangs in professional — and personal — limbo.
"As a football coach, you're going to have periods where you have that. I wouldn't put it as a crisis situation and having nowhere to go. I do have opportunities," Smyte said. "I'm going to be fine."
Smyte worked for the Broncos through recruiting season, but has stopped going into the office since Petersen filled his staff. He's been sleeping later — something the crazy schedule of college football rarely allows — and organizing his offensive philosophy and playbook.
His next coaching job, and Smyte is confident there will be one, must be something that moves his career — and family — in the right direction.
"I'm working toward a head-coaching position at the college level. I need something leading toward that," Smyte said. "You've got to have patience. There are coaches that have achieved great things that sat out a year. I'm very confident that something is going to come up that I want. You have to have faith in yourself."
Smyte, who has coached high school, semi-pro, professional and three levels of college football during his 18-year coaching career, said he could take a position elsewhere while his family stays in Boise for a year or two — until his daughters finish high school. Or he could put his master's degree in education to use and become a teacher.
After all those years of missing events for his coaching career, Smyte's priorities have changed. He plans on being around for his 22nd wedding anniversary on May 19.
"For some young coaches, the only thing there is in life is coaching. They're bent on that next job and climbing the next rung of the ladder," Smyte said. "Now you realize there are other things that are important."