Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Memorial service for Homer Smith
By ESPN.com staff ESPN.com
A memorial service for Homer Smith, one of football's great offensive innovators, will be held Sunday in the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame at 2:00 pm.
Smith had three separate coaching stints at UCLA and also was an assistant at Stanford and Arizona.
Among those scheduled to speak at the service include former UCLA head coaches Terry Donahue and Pepper Rodgers, former Arizona head coach and UCLA assistant Dick Tomey and current Bruin head coach Rick Neuheisel, who played for Smith and worked with him as an assistant. Other Bruins alums scheduled to speak are quarterbacks Tom Ramsey, Jay Schroeder, David Norrie, Matt Stevens and Wayne Cook, as well as wide receiver Paco Craig.
Homer Smith coached for nearly 40 years.
Smith passed away on Sunday, April 10, in Tuscaloosa, Ala., after an extended illness. Smith, 79, served three stints as a UCLA assistant coach (1972-73; 1980-86; 1990-93).
Smith spent 39 years coaching the game, 37 of them at the collegiate level and two more years in the NFL. He started his coaching career at Stanford in 1958 and then moved on to the Air Force Academy for four seasons before earning his first head-coaching appointment at Davidson in 1965. He spent five years with the Wildcats, including a co-Southern Conference championship season in 1969 and a berth in the Tangerine Bowl. Smith then headed back west and spent two seasons as the head coach at the University of the Pacific.
He began the first of his three stints at UCLA in 1972 under Pepper Rodgers and served as the architect of the wishbone offense that enabled Kermit Johnson to gain over 2,000 yards rushing in two seasons. Smith served the next five years (1974-78) as the head-coach at Army, where he was named 1977 Eastern College Coach of the Year after his team broke all the existing school passing records. He returned to UCLA in 1980, serving as the offensive coordinator and coaching quarterbacks and receivers under head coach Terry Donahue. Quarterback Tom Ramsey led the nation in passing efficiency in 1982 and ranked seventh in total offense. A year later, Neuheisel set a school record by completing 25 of 27 passes in a game against Washington and ranked fifth nationally in passing efficiency. Both earned Rose Bowl Player of the Game honors by leading the Bruins to victory in their final collegiate game. Smith stayed through the 1986 season, before moving on to the professional ranks as offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Smith re-entered the college ranks in 1988 at Alabama. In his second season with the Crimson Tide, he helped lead the team to a 10-2 record, a Southeastern Conference championship and the first Sugar Bowl appearance in a decade. Smith returned to Donahue's staff at UCLA as coordinator for the 1990-93 seasons and then headed back to Alabama in 1994 and 1995 as offensive coordinator. Smith joined the Arizona staff as offensive coordinator in 1996 and retired from coaching the following year.