Larry Smith Tickets
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USC football coach Larry Smith, died Monday, January 29, 2008 after battling leukemia and lymphoma at the age of 68.
Well known USC Trojans football coach, died Monday, January 29, 2008 after battling leukemia and lymphoma at the age of 68. Larry Smith was the coach of the USC Trojans for six seasons, from the late 1980's to the early 1990's. He brought the Trojans to three consecutive
Rose Bowl game appearances as well.
Smith, who also coached at Missouri, Tulane, and Arizona universities, guided the USC Trojans to
Pac 10 Tournament Conference championships and Rose Bowl berths in each of his first three seasons at USC. However, Smith is probably best remembered, unfortunately, as the Trojan coach who brought the team to a loss when playing the new Fresno State in the now defunct Freedom Bowl. Larry Smith created a reputation among fans for tarnishing the Trojan's heritage by the disappointing loss to Fresno and also adding fuel to the fire by saying, "Names and logos don't mean anything. You don't beat someone just because of your name and logo." Even though he still had three years on his contract, Smith was fired within days of the Fresno loss.
Born September 12, 1939, Smith was a native of Van Wert, Ohio and played football as a sohomore at Bowling Green University. A no-nonsense coach, and defense-oriented, Smith pumped life into programs at Arizona and Tulane before being hired by USC, which had reached
the Rose Bowl once in four seasons under Ted Tollner before Smith arrived in 1987. In a statement released by the school, former Trojans receiver John Jackson stated that "When he got hired at USC, Larry Smith was exactly what we needed. He was perfect for USC at that time in our history." However, because Smith had no previous Trojan ties, many alumni were uncomfortable with his hiring. This feeling passed quickly, however, when in his first three seasons the Trojans were 27-8-1 and won a record (at the time) 19 consecutive Pac-10 games. In 1988, the Trojans won their first 10 games and were ranked No. 2 before losing to top-ranked Notre Dame.
Among those who played for Smith at USC was 1988 Heisman Trophy runner-up Rodney Peete and All-Americans Tony Boselli and Mark Carrier. Also, linebacker Junior Seau, who this season helped the New England Patriots to a 16-0 regular season and to Super Bowl Sunday. The last three seasons of Smiths career at USC, he held a record of 17-17-2. When fired, Smith stated that, "It's not what you did three or four years ago. It's 'What have you done lately?' As a coach or an athlete or as a team, you're only as good as your last game, and that's the way most fans remember you." He later coached at Missouri, where his coaching career ended when, after a 3-8 season, he was fired in November 2000. Also, Smith twice took the Tigers to bowl games. In Larry Smith's 24 seasons as a major college coach, his teams were 143-126-7, which includes a 44-25-3 record at USC.
USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett, who worked with Smith as an associate athletic director during Smith's last two seasons at USC, said in a statement: "On behalf of the entire Trojan family, I'm saddened to hear of the passing of Larry Smith. He was a good man and a good football coach. When he came to USC, he brought a tough-minded approach and solid fundamentals and he produced some very successful teams here. Getting his first three teams into the Rose Bowl is unprecedented in our history. We'll remember Larry dearly and will long appreciate his contributions to Trojan football."
In recent years, Smith voted in the Harris Poll, part of the BCS National Championships Series equation that determines college football's national champion, and he also worked as a color commentator for Fox telecasts of Arizona football games. Larry Smith is survived by his wife, Cheryl, his son Corby, a former USC and Missouri quarterback, his daughter Alicia and several grandchildren.