Larry Smith Into UofA Sports HOF

Discussion on Rich Rodriguez and the Arizona Football team
Post a reply

Larry Smith Into UofA Sports HOF

Postby b_dog » Sat Feb 06, 2016 9:07 am

Don't recall seeing this elsewhere, but I heard Greg Byrne mention it on his radio show. Larry Smith will be the headliner inducted into the Arizona Sports Hall Of Fame this fall.

After moving back to Tucson following his stints at USC and Missouri, Larry followed Arizona Football closely. He used to do a home game preview for the Bear Down Friday festivities at Main Gate Square that were televised by a local TV station. Following a long battle with cancer, he passed away in 2008. I think most hard feelings about his move to USC after the 1986 season were erased by Dick Tomey's 1993 Fiesta Bowl win over Miami, which is generally considered the highest pinnacle Arizona has reached. When Larry had Steve Axman as his offensive coordinator, Arizona was almost as wide-open and crowd-pleasing as a RichRod team on offense. But, he also had a pretty tough 3-4 defense, led by linebackers Ricky Hunley through Byron Evans, and with hard-hitting safeties like Gordon "Crunch" Bunch and Chuck Cecil. Also a solid and strategic kicking game. He had to do more with less, in terms of budget, facilities, and personnel. There's only so much you can do when your players are undersized and frequently beat up. But he was a big inspirational motivator. Sports Illustrated did a story on him where, after a loss, he had a helicopter drop tennis balls on the practice field and the players had to retrieve them all in 30 seconds...or else. The message was to cheer up and "bounce back." I've always said he was probably our best all-around coach. Fans soured on him a bit when he plateaued as a consistent contender but couldn't break through, and when he went to a smash-mouth offense (without many smashers) after Axman left. And he was a bit unhappy with his budget and the promises/promises situation regarding facilities upgrades that kept getting pushed out. I'm sure he had mixed feelings when USC came at him with a wide-open checkbook. But, he got his Rose Bowl win in 1990 over his old boss Bo Schembechler in Bo's last game, and he took USC to two others. What killed him in LA was closing practices to the hangers-on, being a bit too folksy for the LA media's tastes, and mixing in a lot of less-talented OKGs, rather than just stockpiling the 5-stars, regardless of their personality flaws. He also clung to the smash-mouth power football he learned under Bo, which didn't appeal to USC fans, who like to see scatbacks in the open field, and receivers making great catches to go along with their huge linemen and stockpiled talent. His recruiting approach eventually caught up to him, as his team tailed-off in his last three years. After six years at USC, he went to Missouri for seven years, where he re-built a badly losing team to two bowl game appearances before tailing-off at the end and retiring back to Tucson after the 2000 season. His wife Cheryl, still lives in Tucson and attends some games, and she will represent him at the awards ceremony.

Sean Shields from track, Autumn Champion from softball, and some swimming relay teams will also be inducted.
Bear Down
User avatar
Posts: 1079
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2014 7:28 am

Post a reply

Return to Football

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 2 guests