New Houston Texans head coach Lovie Smith said this week at training camp the job has been “everything I could have asked for” and largely credited his start in Big Sandy with setting the stage for his success.

Smith, who was born in Gladewater and grew up in Big Sandy, was promoted to head coach in February after being hired as the team’s associate head coach and defensive coordinator under then-head coach David Culley in March 2021.

“It’s been a dream come true. As a Big Sandy native and a high school product of the Lone Star State, I understand what it means to be a Texan and how important the game of football is to all of us,” Smith said Tuesday. “It just means more here. I have always wanted to be a head coach in this state, so leading this program is truly special. Just seeing how much the fans care about football and care about winning — it’s been everything I could have asked for.”

At Big Sandy, Smith earned all-state honors for three years as a defensive end and linebacker. His team won state championships in 1973, 1974 and 1975.

The team at Big Sandy in 1975 had one of the most dominant seasons in high school football history, as the defense allowed only 15 points, with 11 shutouts, all season.

Smith said his time at Big Sandy contributed in a big way to his coaching skills.

“ Big Sandy is a small town that’s about winning. We played old school football there. We had a simple formula: Play good offense. And that meant you needed to be able to run the football,” he said. “On the defensive side, it’s about getting takeaways and just, again, playing a certain brand of ball. Those core beliefs about the game were instilled in me from a young age. Also, growing up, I was always encouraged by the people in Big Sandy. There weren’t a lot of football coaches that looked like me back then, but everyone always pushed me to chase my dream.”

Being closer to where he grew up, Smith said he plans on being a part of East Texas football again and spending more time in the region. 

“ I still have family who live out there, and they’ve been able to visit me at practices and games. So, I probably owe them a visit or two once our schedule here at the Texans slows down,” he said. “I also just love going back and seeing the people. There’s something about Big Sandy and the people in East Texas that makes it special.”

Smith went on to play college football at University of Tulsa and was a two-time All-American at linebacker and defensive back.

Smith began his NFL coaching career as a linebacker coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and was head coach for the Chicago Bears 2004-2012. Smith headed back to Tampa to serve as head coach 2014-2016.

Smith had a brief stay at the University of Illinois serving as head coach before moving to the Texans this past year.

The Texans went 4-13-0 in the 2021 season ending up third in the AFC South Division.

Smith said he is ready to lead the Texans in the upcoming season and is excited about his team and its abilities.

“We’re a much better football team than we were last year. We’re not the same Houston Texans that you’ve seen the last couple of years. It’s a new day. We’re excited about the group of guys that we have in this building and the product we’re going to put on the football field,” Smith said. “For us, it's about winning games and doing it our way. Tough, hard-nosed, disciplined ball — that's what you'll see from us. We’re determined to bring exciting and successful football back to H-Town this season.”

Originally published on tylerpaper.com, part of the TownNews Content Exchange.

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