LINCOLN, Neb. — July 15, 2019 — Former Chadron State College football coach and athletic director Brad Smith will be inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame this fall. The ceremonies will be Sept. 13 and 14 in Lincoln.
Smith, the Eagles’ all-time winningest football coach, will be the eighth person with Chadron State ties to enter the Hall of Fame. The others are Ross Armstrong, another longtime CSC coach and athletic director, and players LaVerne McKelvey, Dub Miller, Lonnie Wickard, Brad Fults, Casey Beran and Danny Woodhead.
Now living in Tucson, Ariz., Smith was Chadron State’s head football coach from 1987 through 2004. He also was appointed the college’s athletic director several months before his football team had played its first game and filled that position through the 2012-13 school year, when he retired.
“This honor is one I will cherish for as long as I live,” Smith said when he was notified late last week that he had been voted into the Hall of Fame. “The factors leading to the football team’s success were many. The assistant coaches, support from the administration and, most importantly, the players who gave their hearts and souls to the Eagles and left a legacy that will continue.
“I loved every minute that my family was a part of the city of Chadron and Chadron State,” he added.
There were just 21 lettermen on the roster when Smith took over the football program. The Eagles were 1-8 his first season. They never had another losing season during his 18 years at the helm. They were 5-5 the second year and 8-2 and 9-2 the next two seasons. His cumulative record was 136-57-1.
When Smith stepped down as the football coach to become a full-time athletic director at the end of the 2004 season, his 70.4 winning percentage ranked seventh in NCAA Division II among coaches whose teams had played at least 150 games. In his final 11 years as head coach, the Eagles won at least seven games each season and two of the teams won 10 games, something no Chadron State football teams had done previously.
After Chadron State joined the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference in 1991, Smith’s overall record was 110-39 (73.8%) and the Eagles were 81-25 (76.4%) in the conference under his leadership. They won the conference championship outright in 1996 and 2001 and shared the top spot in 1998, 1999 and 2002. They advanced to the NCAA II playoffs in 1996, 1998, 2000 and 2001.
Smith’s teams ranked among the nation’s top 25 in final polls eight times, twice in NAIA and six times in NCAA II. He was the conference’s Football Coach of the Year in 1996 and 2001 and shared the honor in 1999.
When the RMAC celebrated its centennial in 2009, Smith was selected the conference’s Football Coach of the Century. He was inducted into the Chadron State Athletic Hall of Fame in 2010 and the RMAC Hall of Fame in 2011.
A native of Sycamore, Ill., Smith was a high school all-state football player and a starting cornerback for three years at Western Illinois University. He initially came to Chadron State in the fall of 1972 as a graduate assistant after Glenn Brady, who had been an assistant coach at Western Illinois, was named the Eagles’ head football coach.
Smith earned his master’s degree from Chadron State in 1973 and was the secondary coach at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee the following year. He returned to western Nebraska as the head football coach at Alliance High School in 1974. After three years there, he was the head coach four years at Horlick High School in Racine, Wis., where his teams won three conference championships.
Prior to becoming the Eagles’ head coach in 1987, Smith had been an assistant coach for six years at Western Illinois.
Randy Bauer, who was a senior and played safety for the Eagles in 1972 when Smith was the Eagles’ defensive backfield coach, has remained in Chadron and was president of the Eagles Boosters Club for more than 30 years.
He was elated to hear that Smith will be inducted into the state’s Football Hall of Fame.
“He took over a program that was in shambles and turned it into one of the most respected NCAA II programs in the nation,” Bauer said. “His record speaks for itself. All the good things that have happened to Chadron State football since 1987 are a direct result of Brad Smith’s unique set of skills, abilities and passion for everything CSC.”
Smith and his wife, Pam, whom he met at Western Illinois, have three children–Kara, Ben and Micah–and six grandchildren.
Also being inducted into the Hall of Fame in September will be four former University of Nebraska-Lincoln players–Mark Behning, Jay Foreman, Alex Henery and Greg Jorgensen–and former University of Nebraska-Kearney wide receiver, Richie Ross.