The Coaching Search: Lovie Smith

Written June 17th, 2011 by Eric

In our continuing look at the Ohio State coaching search, we go far afield and look at a guy who isn’t getting a lot of love for the spot.

Bears Head Coach Lovie Smith

Many, many names have been mentioned in the context of the Ohio State head coaching search.  Some have made some sense (Fickell, Hazell, Dantonio, Pelini) and some not so much (Meyer, Saban, etc.)  We will get to them all shortly.

One guy that may not have entered your radar yet is Lovie Smith, current Head Coach of the Chicago Bears.  I’ll wait while you stop laughing.

….

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Any minute now…

Smith started his collegiate football experience playing Linebacker and Safety for the University of Tulsa in the late 70’s.  You might recall that the head coach of the Golden Hurricanes at that time was one John Cooper.  Yes, that John Cooper.

Rather than playing in the pros, Lovie went straight into coaching and took over the Defensive Coordinator position of his former High School – Big Sandy.  After a few years at the High School level, Lovie secured a job with his former coach at Tulsa, staying there once Cooper left to take the top spot at Arizona State.

Following his experiences at Tulsa, Lovie Smith bounced around at a number of different defensive assistant jobs at the D-1 level, eventually ending up at Ohio State in 1995 coaching the defensive backs.

Following a single season at Ohio State, Lovie moved on the NFL to work with the Buccaneers, and later the St. Louis Rams.  While with the Rams Lovie experienced his first NFL Championship game in Super Bowl XXXVI.  His defense held the super hot (and future dynasty) Patriots to 20 points.  Unfortunately that wasn’t enough for the offense to overcome as the Rams succumbed by 3.

As a head coach with the Chicago Bears, Lovie Smith has had a reasonably successful career in the NFL.  He stands at 63-49 overall (56.3%) over 7 seasons, including an NFC Championship and Super Bowl visit.

Clearly Lovie Smith is no stranger to the bright lights of the bigger games.  That has to be attractive to the higher ups at the Ohio State Athletic Department who are looking for someone who can coach the big game.  Having not won a Super Bowl, though, is awfully reminiscent of his former head coach.  Hiring a “Big Game Coop” clone would not be particularly popular among the fans.

Now, I don’t hold any illusions that Lovie Smith will even be available to take the spot.  That said, I don’t remotely think he’s even the right answer for the job.  Smith’s record is impressive, but perhaps not good enough for one of the top 3 jobs in division 1 football1.

Lovie Smith (and his great hair) at Tulsa

Playing Career

Linebacker and Safety, University of Tulsa, (1977-1979)

Pedegree

  • Defensive Coordinator: Big Sandy High School 1980
  • Assistant Coach: DB/WR: Cascia Hall Prep 1981-1982
  • Linebackers Coach: Tulsa 1983-1986
  • Linebackers Coach: Wisconsin 1987
  • Linebackers Coach: Arizona State 1988-1991
  • Linebackers Coach: Kentucky 1992
  • Defensive Backs Coach: Tennessee 1993-1994
  • Defensive Backs Coach: Ohio State 1995
  • Linebackers Coach: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1996-2000
  • Defensive Coordinator: St. Louis Rams 2001-2003
  • Head Coach: Chicago Bears 2004-current

Awards

AP NFL Coach of the Year (2005)

PFW NFL Coach of the Year (2005)

-       Earned for turning a 5-11, NFC North bottom dweller, into an 11-5 NFC North champion.

Why Lovie could be the next coach of the Buckeyes:

  • He is a former Buckeye coach and has experienced the Ohio State/Michigan rivalry.
  • He has over 30 years of experience in the coaching profession, including 7 (8 when the search actually occurs) as Head Coach, and 13 years in Division 1.
  • He has championship experience, winning the NFC Championship, playing in a Super Bowl, and winning the NFC North three times.
  • He’s a defensive minded coach having played Linebacker and Safety, and having spent his entire career coaching defensive units.
  • The Bears have been having a rough time the last four years, going 34-30.  Though they won the NFC North last year with an 11-5 record, they ended the season 1-4 and replaced all of their offensive coaches.  It’s not impossible that Lovie Smith could be interested in another job soon.

Why Lovie wont be the next coach of the Buckeyes:

  • He’s gone 0-1 in games against Michigan while coaching the Buckeyes.
  • He’s gone 0-2 in games against Michigan in his career (49-0 loss as coach of Wisconsin!!)2
  • He’s coached for Wisconsin.  No chance.3
  • Good NFL Head Coaches rarely make good College Head Coaches and vice versa.  While it has worked on occasion, it takes a different type of person to deal with 85 18-22 year olds as it does 45 overpaid adults.
  • He has no experience as a college level head coach.
  • While his Bears teams have struggled recently, they did post an 11-5 record and an NFC North championship last season. A solid season here will take him firmly off the market.

1SI can be useful at times, when they’re not talking to convicted felons.
2What do you mean this doesn’t matter?  This is an OSU website after all!
3Yes, this matters too.  To me.  Scum of the earth they are.

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