Brian Smith imagined his life would be different if he had continued to work in the financial world.
The new Blythewood football coach was a commodities broker for two years before getting back into back into coaching, a decision he doesn’t regret.
“I was doing well. Made more in month than in a year as a teacher, but I still had a hole in my heart,” Smith said. “I would have had a different life if I stayed in business but a less impactful life. I would have missed out on a lot of things that the good Lord didn’t want me to miss out on. I just couldn’t live without football.”
Smith said his experience in business, which also included a stint as a project manager for Gamble & Stuckey and then later as president of Caillech Funds, helped shape him. At Caillech Funds, Smith said they traded everything from hogs and silver to gold and soybeans.
“It prepares you for pressure. You never felt more pressure than when you are dealing with other people’s money,” Smith said.
Smith will be one of 10 new coaches in the Midlands next season with three in Region 5-5A, joining River Bluff’s Blair Hardin and Lexington’s Perry Woolbright.
The 39-year-old grew up in Massachusetts and was a big fan of Boston-area sports teams. He remembers going with his grandpa to New England Patriots and Boston College games.
Smith was a football standout at Lynn Classical High School. He tore his ACL during his senior season and ended up going Fork Union Military Academy, which has turned out several NFL players.
Smith spent one season at Fork Union and was teammates with former Giants and Steelers receiver Plaxico Burress before landing at The Citadel, where he played linebacker and later was an assistant coach for two seasons.
He got back into business before becoming an assistant at Manning High and later landed a head coaching job at C.E. Murray, a small Class A school in Williamsburg County. He said several of his friends told him not to take the position because it was a “dead-end job.”
Prior to Smith’s arrival in 2013, the school had just one winning season since 2000 and had won more than 10 games in a season only once.
After two losing seasons, C.E. Murraywon a school-record 12 games and advanced to the Class A Division II championship game for the first time in school history while dealing with the floods that hit the area hard that year.
C.E. Murray followed that with a second straight region championship this past season. The winning helped create exposure for the school and players. South Carolina coach Will Muschamp visited the school last month and extended an offer to junior Darius Rush.
“It took hard work and getting the community involved. But that helped me to become a better coach and person,” Smith said. “We dealt with the flood last year that knocked us out about a month and the hurricane this year. It was a lot of adversity and you learn through it. It either makes you or breakes you.”
At Blythewood, Smith won’t be in a rebuilding mode. The Bengals have had just two losing seasons in 10 years of football and produced several Division I players, including Arizona Cardinals all-pro Justin Bethel.
Smith also won’t have the little tasks he had to do at C.E. Murray, which included working on the football field and even acting as janitor at times.
“Now, I will have time to focus on football and character stuff for our guys, get the community more involved,” Smith said. “That will enable us to build a national program, which is what I want to do here.”
The head football coaching changes in the Midlands since last season: