From His Days at Big Sandy to Coaching in the Super Bowl, Lovie Smith Has Left His Mark
Often times humble beginnings yield greatness. Some of the world's most accomplished individuals got their start off the beaten path, which describes the journey of Lovie Smith.
Long before he was the head coach of the Chicago Bears, Smith was a star linebacker on the gridiron at tiny Big Sandy High School.
Teaming with fellow Texas legend David Overstreet, Smith and the Wildcats were among the most dominant teams in high school football history.
Big Sandy captured three consecutive state titles from 1973-75. In 1975, the Wildcats took it to a whole other level by outscoring opponents on the season, 824-15. The 824 points were a national record at the time.
After his days in high school, Smith went on to star at the University of Tulsa, where he was a two-time All-American linebacker and safety.
A career in the NFL as a player wasn't in the cards, so Smith instead pursued the life as a coach. And in 1980, he was hired by his hometown Big Sandy Wildcats as a defensive line coach.
He didn't stay home long, moving up the ranks as a college assistant at Tulsa, Wisconsin, Arizona State, Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio State.
Then the NFL came calling.
Longtime friend Tony Dungy hired Smith to coach the linebackers for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1996. Then in 2001, the St. Louis Rams made him their defensive coordinator, and the Rams' scoring defense improved by more than 12 points with Smith in charge.
Then after 25 years in coaching, Smith was given his first head coaching job when the Chicago Bears hired him prior to the 2004 season.
In Smith's third year in Chicago, the Bears went 13-3 to earn the NFC's top seed in the playoffs. Smith led the Bears to two playoff victories and the Super Bowl.
Smith, along with his friend Dungy, became the first African-American head coaches in Super Bowl history. Lovie's Bears lost the game, but Smith has continued to win in Chicago.
In eight years as coach of the Bears, Smith has compiled a 71-57 record.