Mr. Smith, Husband, Football Legend

1 decade 10 months 1 week ago Sunday, February 04 2007 Feb 4, 2007 Sunday, February 04, 2007 10:15:19 PM CST February 04, 2007 in Sports
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Football fans might remember him as a long time Tiger assistant coach, but before that, Harry Smith was a college football legend.

Just by looking at Harry Smith you could never guess his history. You can see the plaques, Southern Cal All-Time team and college football hall of fame, but to fully understand Harry's heroics, you need to take a trip downstairs.

His old pads and leather helmet, scour the scrapbooks-stained gold with time-and you'll see Harry throughout the headlines. It all started at Southern Cal in 1936.  "It's a real honor for them to accept me. I worked for it for a long time," he said.

Smith played both offensive and defensive line on the 1939 undefeated Rose Bowl Championship team, but it took 65 years for USC to give Harry his ring. "We finally got recognized by the University. My son and I went out there before the California football game. So we got that ring from the athletic director and had a real nice time," he said.

Harry played in Hollywood, a place where the stars get all the attention. Smith had the role of supporting actor, an offensive lineman, on the field.

"You're part of a team. And you contribute and you keep working and you're not satisfied if you do one job good you're supposed to do another one," he said.

It's that work ethic that caught the eye of Missouri's football coach Don faurot. "That team that summer. Coach Faurot was a Midwest coach. So we got to talking. I got a message that I'd been hired back here at $1800 a year as an assistant football coach," he said.

Harry's first season at Mizzou was in 1941. He was only 22 and younger than some of the players. A year later Harry Smith got married in Don Faurot's house."Wouldn't cheat. Wouldn't cut a corner and did things right. He worked with the kids and believed in Missouri football. We had 80-90 percent of our kids from Missouri."

Harry had three separate stints as an assistant coach at Missouri. After more than 30 years of service, Smith retired in 1983. But his connections to Missouri continue and Harry has even taken a spin on the back of Coach Pinkel's Harley. "I think he's a real honorable guy. I think he's a real straight shooter. They're real well coached. They're treated well," he said.

In his playing days, Harry stood 5'10. He says he's probably 5'9 and a half now, but his legend never shrinks. He got voted to the College First Half-Century team.

"Well, there's another one there if you don't mind me saying so for 100 years," he said.That's right. Mr. Smith is one of the 22 greatest college football players of all-time. He's a lineman, a not-so-little old man and a living legend."If I'm a leader okay. But I'm not jealous of someone else that does it and I don't expect that to be. But I do my best all the time," he added.

Harry wasn't a small football player at the time, he weighed 210 pounds on the line-at least 100 pounds less than players now.

When Smith started coaching at Mizzou in 1941, the athletic budget for Missouri was only $300,000 a year.

Now Harry Smith is 88 years old. He'll celebrate his 65th anniversary with his wife in February.

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