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Returning NFL Coach Profile: Lovie Smith

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He can probably leave the winter clothes behind. Lovie Smith, who previously led the Chicago Bears for nine seasons, was hired as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in January 2014. It marked a return to the team Smith began his NFL coaching career with in the mid-1990s.

Born on May 8, 1958, in Gladwater, Texas, Smith was raised in the small town of Big Sandy, Texas. He earned all-state honors playing defensive end and linebacker for Big Sandy High School and won three consecutive state championships. In addition to winning the state title, the 1975 team managed to allow only 15 points during the entire season. Smith would be inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in February 2012.

After earning two all-American selections and three all-Missouri Conference selections during his playing days at the University of Tulsa, Smith returned to Big Sandy High in 1980 and began his coaching career. In 1983, he began a stint as linebackers coach at Tulsa he would hold until 1986. He then spent six seasons as linebackers coach at Wisconsin, Arizona State and Kentucky, followed by three seasons coaching defensive backs at Tennessee and Ohio State. 

Smith was hired as the Buccaneers' linebackers coach in 1996. A team that had been absent from the playoffs for 15 years enjoyed success during his time there. He left Tampa Bay in 2001 and became the St. Louis Rams' defensive coordinator. The Bears hired him as their head coach in 2004. His top priority, as he announced on his first day on the job, was to beat the Green Bay Packers, something he would achieve only eight times in his first 19 games against them.

The Bears boasted one of the NFL's premiere defenses and won three NFC North titles during Smith's time on the sidelines. Smith himself won Coach of the Year honors in 2005. The 2006 season was the only one during Smith's tenure in which the Bears ranked higher than 23rd in offense, and they advanced to their first Super Bowl in 21 years. Super Bowl XLI got off to a good start for the Bears, but it went downhill quickly and they lost to the Indianapolis Colts. It would be four seasons before the Bears returned to the playoffs. 

Chicago won seven of their first eight games in the 2012 season but ultimately finished 10-6 and missed the playoffs. Smith was fired on Dec. 31, 2012. He had won 81 of his 144 regular season games with the Bears and twice led them to the NFC championship game. Bear Devin Hester was upset about the firing and blamed the media and "fake fans" for Smith's departure. 

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Comments

Sep 3, 2014 6:27pm
SportscastersClub
Nice recap, have always liked Lovie!
Sep 4, 2014 12:26pm
RLoftis4
Glad you enjoyed! Thanks for reading!
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