Vaught's Views: It will be tough following Smith

December 21, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

Why would anyone want to follow Chuck Smith as Boyle County's football coach?

Yet that is what someone will be trying to do now that Smith has ended his successful run with the Rebels to become an assistant coach at the University of Kentucky.

When Smith came to Boyle in 1992, the Rebels had a program that was not close to being competitive. Boyle couldn't dream of winning a district championship, much less a state title.

After a surprising 7-4 record his first year, Boyle dropped to 2-8 in 1993, and it looked like more of the same ahead for the Rebels. However, Smith kept pushing his players, developing talent and telling his players they could win.


And did Boyle ever win.

Boyle won nine games in 1994. Since then, the Rebels have won 10 or more games every year except 1998 when they were 7-5. In 13 years, Smith compiled a 142-33 record, a winning percentage of 81.1.

From 1999-2003, Boyle won five straight state championships and had four perfect seasons. During that stretch the Rebels had a 47-game win streak.

Last season Boyle again reached the state title game only to lose to Highlands. Still, no other Kentucky team has ever played in six straight state title games.

That's the legacy the next Boyle coach will be trying to follow.

Boyle athletics director Jim Spears hoped he would not be the one to have to head a search to find Smith's successor, but he knew the more success Smith had, the more job offers he was going to get. Several times Smith turned down other high school jobs, but when the chance came to go back to his alma mater to coach, Smith couldn't say no.

"The future will take care of itself," Spears said. "Now we are going to reflect on all the great things he has done for us. We want to stop and celebrate with him for not only what he's done, but for what he will do. As soon as we get back to school (after the holiday break), we will organize a rowdy sendoff to say thanks for all he's done. Then we will look to the future."

Spears does plan to talk to Smith's assistants about the direction of the program. One, Jeff Hester, has been a head coach at Garrard County. Two, Chris Mason and Chris Pardue, have been at Smith's side for all of Boyle's championships.

Pardue would seem to be most logical choice

Pardue would seem the most logical choice if the Rebels want to maintain the continuity on next year's team. He has been offered several chances to leave Boyle in recent years, but each time decided he would rather be an assistant on a state championship team instead of the head coach of a rebuilding team.

"I am definitely interested in the job," Pardue said. "There will be a lot of things involved in that, but I have a definite interest."

He's been with Smith all 13 years at Boyle. He is Boyle's offensive coordinator, and Smith trusts him to run the offense. That has allowed Smith to concentrate on Boyle's defense.

Pardue has developed three straight superb quarterbacks - Bart Johnson, 2001 Mr. Football Jeff Duggins and Brandon Smith. Johnson went on to play at Georgetown, Duggins was a junior college All-American, and Brandon Smith, Chuck's son, has just verbally committed to play for Western Kentucky.

Boyle has sent receivers Jacob Tamme to Kentucky and Matt Miller to Eastern Kentucky thanks to their production in Pardue's system.

"I have had head coaching responsibilities as far as the offense is concerned," Pardue said Monday night. "Chuck gave me total control. We've been together here the whole time, and I've never had any complaints about how he let me coach. It's been great working for him, and he's leaving a program that has a lot of things going for it."

But the Rebels won't have Smith next year. His shadow will loom over the program and the next coach. How could it not?

That's why if Pardue wants the job, Boyle needs to give him that chance. He knows the players. He knows the pressure. He fully understands what Smith did and how he did it.

Then there is his loyalty. He bleeds black and gold and has for 13 years. That can't be ignored.

Following Smith is going to be an impossible task for anyone, but Pardue certainly seems to be the coach best qualified to at least give it a try.

Besides, who would have ever imagined in 1992 that 13 years later Smith would have won 142 games and five state titles?

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