UH names O-line coach
Return to Hawaii was inevitable for Smith
STORY SUMMARY »
Brian Smith spent much of his football career learning the finer points of offensive line play under the often-boisterous tutelage of Mike Cavanaugh.
The former Hawaii center played for Cavanaugh for three years and worked with him as a graduate assistant at Oregon State in 2005.
Now that he has a burgeoning coaching career of his own, UH's new offensive line coach may not be quite as expressive as his mentor, but he can still get his point across.
"I'm a little more toned down from where Coach Cavanaugh was," Smith said. "I'm definitely a teacher, I have high expectations for my players and I am demanding. It's a little different personality, but I think I get good results from my players."
Smith, 28, joins former UH teammate and quarterbacks coach Nick Rolovich as new members of Greg McMackin's staff. Smith coached at Portland State last season along with former UH coaches Jerry Glanville and Mouse Davis.
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Over the six years following the end of his Hawaii football career, Brian Smith couldn't shake his connection with the Warrior program.
Position: University of Hawaii offensive line coach
Born: Aug. 9, 1980, in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
High School: Thousand Oaks High School, 1998. All-league and all-county in football and wrestling.
College: Played four seasons at the University of Hawaii; Started 12 games at center in 2000 and 2001; Started at long snapper all 48 games of his UH career.
Pro: Attended training camps with the Baltimore Ravens (2002) and Green Bay Packers (2003).
Coaching: Assistant coach, Royal (Calif.) High School (2003-04); student assistant, Hawaii (2004); running backs/receivers, California Lutheran (2005); graduate assistant, Oregon State (2006); offensive line, Portland State (2007).
Little known fact: Finished second on the team with 30 pancake blocks in his senior year.
He spent a season as a UH student assistant and later shadowed former Warrior coach Mike Cavanaugh as a graduate assistant at Oregon State.
His first full-time Division I coaching job at Portland State kept him in the company of Jerry Glanville and Mouse Davis, a season removed from their stints in Manoa.
"We were constantly talking about the same people and following the program," Smith said.
Smith, 28, will renew a direct relationship with the Warriors this season as a member of first-year coach Greg McMackin's staff.
Smith will coach the offensive line, taking over for Dennis McKnight, who followed June Jones to Southern Methodist.
Smith is the third member of the Warriors' class of 2001 to be named to McMackin's staff, joining quarterbacks coach Nick Rolovich and graduate assistant Craig Stutzmann.
"He's just like Rolo, a leader," McMackin said. "I saw that in him in 1999. He's a student of the game and a scholar. In talking to Mouse and June and Dennis McKnight, they all said he knows as much about blocking schemes for the run-and-shoot as anyone. He played in it, and he learned all the finer points. ... He's a scholar of offensive line play."
Smith's playing career at UH spanned from 1998 to 2001, experiencing the program's lowest depths and some of its peak moments.
He was part of Fred vonAppen's last recruiting class and started at long snapper as a freshman in 1998 when Hawaii went 0-12. VonAppen was fired after the season and June Jones orchestrated the nation's most dramatic turnaround ever the following year.
He started all 24 games his junior and senior years, closing his career by snapping the ball to Rolovich in a 2001 season capped by a landmark 72-45 win over Brigham Young.
"Nick and I always had a good relationship since we stopped playing together," Smith said. "And once we both got into coaching we talked about coaching together, because he's a quarterback guy and I'm an O-line guy, it kind of fits that we'd try to work together somewhere. But a lot of that just becomes talk. So it's awesome that we're going to get that opportunity to work together at our alma mater."
Following a year as a student assistant at UH, Smith made stops at Division III California Lutheran and Oregon State before being hired by Glanville at Portland State, who gave him his blessing to pursue the opening in Manoa.
"He was really understanding. He knew it was a good opportunity for me," Smith said. "Hawaii has a great program right now and it's just going to get better.
"I learned a lot from Coach Davis this last year as far as the run-and-shoot offense goes and what he's looking for in players and how he attacks defenses."
Now that he's back on board in Manoa, Smith is eager to dive into the recruiting scene and is eagerly anticipating the first day of practice. He has some familiarity with some of the older linemen in the program, having worked with them in 2004.
"The great thing about new coaches coming in is that there is a clean slate," Smith said. "Those kids are all starting out fresh and I'm looking forward to pushing them and seeing how they get better and seeing who rises to the top."