Black History Month Profiles: Lovie Smith

Feb 26, 2012

Lovie Smith was hired as the 13th head coach of the Chicago Bears in January 2004. After eight seasons, his record of 71-57 represents the most wins in franchise history. That includes an NFC Championship in 2006 that gave the Bears their first Super Bowl appearance in 21 years. He led the team to consecutive division titles in 2005 and 2006, only the second Bears coach to do so.

A native of Texas, Smith played college football at the University of Tulsa, a two-time All-American at linebacker and safety. He began his coaching career as defensive coordinator for his hometown Big Sandy High School, then moved to assistant at a Tulsa prep school. He moved into the college ranks as linebackers coach in 1983, first at his alma mater Tulsa, then at Wisconsin, Arizona State and Kentucky. He then had stints as defensive backs coach at Tennessee and Ohio State before jumping into the professional ranks as linebacker coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers under then-coach Tony Dungy.

After five years, he took the defensive coordinator role with St. Louis, who won the 2001 NFC Championship and advanced to Super Bowl XXXVI. In 2004, the Bears called on Smith to lead their team as head coach. Two years later, the team would advance to the Super Bowl and Smith became the first black head coach to lead his team to the big game, just hours before Dungy became the second at Indianapolis. The two friends faced off at Super Bowl XLI.

Smith and his wife, MaryAnne, have three children. He is an active supporter of the American Diabetes Association in honor of his mother, who is blind due to the condition. Among other events in which he participates, Smith donates ten tickets to every Bears game for children suffering from Diabetes. The Smiths founded the Lovie and MaryAnne Smith Foundation, which donates college tuition funds toward impoverished children.