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RICH CLARKSON, sportswriter and photographer, The Lawrence Daily Journal-World, 1951-57:
STARTING OUT, 1953-65
"You could see his genius even then"
After Graduation Smith served his alma mater briefly as an assistant coach, then his country with the Air Force in Germany. Lieutenant Smith coached his base team to an 11-0 record and hoped to find a high school job Stateside when his hitch was up. But in 1955, at a service tournament in France, Smith met Bob Spear, who had just been named coach at the Air Force Academy. Spear later offered him a job as an assistant, and Smith accepted. Three years later North Carolina coach Frank McGuire hired him in the same role.
McGuire was an extravagant New Yorker whose so-called Underground Railroad had delivered to Chapel Hill a stream of big-city talent. But his lavish recruiting style also put the Tar Heels in contravention of NCAA rules. In 1961 the administration let McGuire go and named his 30-year-old assistant to replace him.
Smith's influence in Chapel Hill extended beyond the basketball arena. With his pastor and a visiting black theology student, he helped integrate a local restaurant. In his second season as head coach, North Carolina scored an astonishing victory at Kentucky, and his players began to believe in him. As his innovations started to take hold--including the delay game he and Spear had developed at Air Force, which would evolve into the Four Corners offense--belief morphed into a kind of faith.
But that faith didn't yet extend beyond the team. In January 1965, during Smith's fourth season, the Tar Heels returned to campus after a thumping at Wake Forest to find that students had hung their coach in effigy. Center Billy Cunningham bounded off the bus and angrily tore the likeness of Smith from the tree. If, as scuttlebutt had it, the university elders had hired a greenhorn because they wanted to scale back a basketball program run amok, they seemed to have gotten their wish.
WILLIAM AYCOCK, University Chancellor, 1958-64:
THE REVEREND ROBERT SEYMOUR, pastor, Binkley Baptist Church, 1959-88:
CHARLIE SHAFFER, guard, 1962-64: