Brad Smiley, who has built the Trinity Valley Community College football team into one of the country’s most dominant junior college programs while steering a record-shattering offense, is joining Brad Laird’s new Northwestern State coaching staff as offensive coordinator.
Laird announced Smiley’s hiring on Monday. It is subject to the approval of the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System, which includes Northwestern.
Along with 11 seasons as head coach and two more (1998-99) as assistant coach at TVCC, the 44-year-old Smiley spent seven years at Tulane (2000-2006). He was a student assistant in 1995 at Baylor, and a graduate assistant in 1996-97 at NSU, helping the Demons capture the 1997 Southland Conference championship and an FCS playoff berth.
He was named the 2014 National Junior College Coach of the Year by American Football Monthly magazine and has four conference coach of the year honors. Smiley took over a TVCC program than won two games in 2006 and has won five straight conference championships and three regional championships.
Since 2013, Smiley’s Cardinals have a 48-9 record and have spent 63 consecutive weeks in the National Junior College Athletic Association Top 20, ranked in the top 10 for 21 straight weeks. He is the only coach in conference history to win five straight league championships.
Smiley’s 8-3 Cardinals, ranked 8th in the NJCAA, wrap up their season Saturday playing in the Heart of Texas Bowl.
“I couldn’t be more excited for Northwestern State University and our football program to get Brad Smiley back here,” said Laird. “He shares the same vision I have for NSU football. His career speaks for itself, the success that he’s had at every stop, especially building Trinity Valley into a national power with a dynamic offensive system.”
The Cardinals are averaging 41 points per game this season and have held a top 10 national ranking in total offense in nine of Smiley’s 11 seasons. TVCC led the NJCAA in touchdowns and scoring for three straight seasons (2014-16) and set six team and two individual NJCAA offensive records including yards per game (656.1 in 2015) and yards in a season (7,778 in 2014).
Smiley has a master’s degree in sport administration from NSU, with a bachelor’s in marketing from Baylor. His wife, Janna, is a Natchitoches native. His father, the late Dr. Barry Smiley, was the Dean of Business at NSU for 11 years.
“We’ve loved our years living in Athens, coaching at Trinity Valley, and there have been opportunities to move into Division I football. It was going to take the right place, and the right person, to get me to move,” said Smiley. “This is the perfect fit, the right time.
“The excitement and energy from (first-year NSU president) Dr. (Chris) Maggio and (athletics director) Greg Burke, and Brad, and the commitment to get the football program back to a championship level, is powerful,” said Smiley. “For any successful organization, to have all its leaders aligned with the same vision is paramount for success. It’s exciting and intriguing to see it at Northwestern.
“Brad and I cut our coaching teeth together at Northwestern in 1996, when we shared an office. I know his passion for the program, and the university. Mine’s exactly the same,” said Smiley, whose late mother (Shirley Pittman Smiley) and her seven sisters all graduated from NSU.
“You fold in the cousins and extended family, and we’ve just sold a lot of new season tickets,” he said. “Northwestern is a cornerstone in our lives.”
Smiley has recruited, coached and developed more Division I (FBS and FCS) players in the past seven years than any other junior college in the country. Twelve of his quarterbacks have signed Division I scholarships, with one in the NFL.
“They love playing in our system. We fit it to the skills of our players. A lot of guys get a chance to touch the football,” he said. “We want to run as many plays as possible.
This year, four Cardinals have thrown touchdown passes to 14 different receivers, while eight players have run for touchdowns.
At Tulane, he was the Green Wave’s recruiting coordinator for five seasons while coaching tight ends and assisting with the offensive line. He was part of an offensive staff that produced Tulane’s career passing leader (Patrick Ramsey), top two rushers (current New York Jets running back Matt Forte and former NFL back Mewelde Moore), and scoring leader (Lou Groza Award-winning kicker Seth Marler).
Smiley has also been TVCC’s athletics director for the past six seasons. He and Janna have two children, Ben (14) and Clary (12).
He is the first member of NSU’s new staff under Laird, who was named head coach last Monday.