UBC’s most successful football coach, Frank Smith will be honoured with a well-earned place in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and Museum. Later this summer, Smith will be enshrined as part of the 2019 Class in the Builder category, officially announced Wednesday by the CFHOF.
Smith will join former Saskatchewan club president Jim Hopson in the Builder category, while the Player inductees include former Canadian Football League standouts Jon Cornish, Mervyn Fernandez, Terry Greer, Ernie Pitts (posthumously) and David Williams.
Many of UBC’s greatest football achievements came with Smith patrolling the sidelines. In 21 seasons between 1974 and 1994, Smith won two Vanier Cup national championships, five Canada West league titles, and 126 games overall (Canada West, playoff and non-conference).
Smith’s Thunderbirds won the Vanier Cup in 1982 and 1986, two of the school’s four national titles. His 1982 team is considered to be one of the best, if not the best, in U SPORTS history as it won its three playoff games by an average score of 50-6. UBC were also Vanier Cup finalists in 1978 and 1987. Smith coached the Thunderbirds to five Hardy Cup Canada West conference titles in 1976, 1978, 1982, 1986 and 1987.
Smith won the Frank Tindall Award as Canadian Inter-university Athletic Union (now U SPORTS) Football Coach of the Year in 1978 and 1987. He holds several UBC football coaching records including most seasons coached (21), most wins (126), most consecutive victories (22), most points in one season (466). A total of 47 players from Smith’s time as Thunderbirds coach went on to play in the Canadian Football League. Smith closed out the 1990s by serving six seasons as an assistant coach with Saskatchewan and B.C. in the CFL.
At the age of 87, coach Smith is still very active; on most days, you can find him at the local pool where he enjoys swimming for at least an hour per session. When notified he’d been selected to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, Smith was understandably taken aback.
“It’s a very special honour, it’s nation-wide and I’m absolutely speechless,” he said. “Anytime you receive a recognition like this, it’s because of what a lot of other people helped you do. This is sincerely an award for all the players and coaches that worked for me and I especially want to point out Bob Laycoe, who was my fellow coach at UBC for a number of years, side by side with me looking after the defence. I think Bob should share this award along with me.”
The two already share an enduring honour as the varsity weight room at UBC is named after both Smith and Laycoe, who was recently inducted into the UBC Sports Hall of Fame.
Smith is pleased with his legacy, the building blocks he set down, and the success that followed for the UBC Thunderbirds football program under his watch. Most of all he takes tremendous pride in the lasting influence he had on his players.
“I’m proud of the achievements of the young men that played for me and certainly what they’ve done in their personal life, both family wise and professionally, you know that reflects on them as well as the program itself so I’m very proud of them.”
Smith plans on being in attendance for the August 9 CFHOF induction ceremony at the Hall of Fame in Hamilton, Ont. The Hall of Fame game is at Tim Hortons Field, Saturday August 10 when the Hamilton Tiger-Cats host the B.C. Lions.