Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lovie Smith's son enjoys working with dad

Lovie Smith, right, with his sons, Miles, left, and Mikal, center.

Courtesy Sun-Times Media

Lovie Smith, right, with his sons, Miles, left, and Mikal, center.

TAMPA — As a teenager, Mikal Smith loved staying up late watching film with his father, Lovie.

It was 1992, when Lovie was working with linebackers at the University of Kentucky. And Mikal would study cut-ups of then-Georgia star running back Garrison Hearst.

"We used to have it up on the wall, the old projectors, the wheels and everything," Mikal said. "We didn't have flat screens like we have now. I'd watch games, watch college players and how they went about doing things. It was always good watching tape, getting to pick his mind every once and awhile."

Though the technology has changed, Mikal, 37, is still breaking down opponents with his dad. Only now it's his job.

Mikal, pronounced mick-ALE, is the safeties coach for Lovie, the new Bucs coach, marking the second time the father and son have worked together. Mikal spent three seasons as defensive quality control coach or nickelbacks coach (2010-12) under Lovie with the Bears, learning the dynamics of the unusual but "professional" relationship.

"I always assume that if I'm getting instructed, it's boss/father, either one of them," Mikal said. "It's hard to separate the two, but we find a way to do it. Obviously if I'm in the office alone, it'll be more a dad relationship, if we're in front of the team it's Coach Smith."

Mikal said many will say he got the job because of his dad. But the younger Smith points out that it's often about who you know; his father just happens to be an NFL head coach, and he's excited to learn from "one of the best in the game."

Lovie's other sons are involved — Miles, 24, as an offensive intern and Matthew, 27, as his father's agent.

Lovie says Mikal's background, not bloodlines, earned him the gig.

Mikal, an assistant at Trinity International University (Deerfield, Ill.) for two seasons before his Bears stint, also spent last year working with the Cowboys nickelbacks.

"It's always good when you can be around family, but I can be around family at home," Lovie said. "For me, it was about having the best football coaches I could to help the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win. Mikal came up the ranks the right way. He knows exactly what I'm looking for."

Lovie smiled and said, "He coaches positions that I've coached, so that may not be a good thing."


Like many coaches' sons, Mikal said he had to learn to "jump ship quick" as a kid.

That included three schools in eight months in three states at one point for Mikal, who says having a close-knit family helped.

"I wish it was now, I'd be able to get a lot of frequent flier miles," Mikal said. "I've got a lot of car miles. I have a lot of friends across the country, so I can probably go coast to coast and not use a map."

Mikal, Lovie's son from a previous relationship, always idolized his dad; he hated it when Lovie's teams would lose, knowing he couldn't help from the stands. Mikal, who played safety at Arizona, said he wanted to stay involved in the game, and Lovie told him "there's a joy you're going to get from coaching that you didn't get from playing."

"I'm just like, 'Dad, that's 'cause you're not playing anymore,' " Mikal quipped. "But after being around it and being able to coach, you watch how the players you're teaching, you watch them grow, and the two of you guys work together to get something done, it's an experience you can't fathom. And I think that's why we're all in it."

Mikal appears to have gleaned a style similar to his dad.

"What I learned from him is you need to be a great teacher, but guys respect you and you get through to them by your knowledge," Mikal said. "Don't try to B.S. them, be honest with the guys. I'm not going to yell. I'm not going to cuss at you. I'm going to find out what the problem is, and we're going to talk about it like men do and we'll get it corrected."

Mikal is proud of the family coaching tree. He once told the Chicago Tribune that "maybe one day they will talk about the Smiths like they do the Shulas."

Yet Mikal says there have been no special privileges in working with his dad.

"One thing about Coach Smith, he's not going to ever just give you a position, you're going to earn it," Mikal said. "I know I'm in the same boat as everybody else, if I don't get the job done, you're going to have a new safeties coach here."

Joe Smith can be reached at

Lovie Smith's son enjoys working with dad 02/10/14 [Last modified: Monday, February 10, 2014 10:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs add top executive from MLS to business side


    The Bucs have hired a top executive from Major League Soccer to their business operations in Atul "AK" Khosla, who has spent the last six years as chief operating officer of Major League Soccer's Chicago Fire.

    Atul Khosla, 38, spent the last six years as chief operating officer of MLS' Chicago Fire. He joins the Bucs as their new chief corporate development and brand officer.
  2. Minors also a training ground for umpires with big-league dreams

    The Heater

    Umpire Tom Fornarola, 23, left, and Taylor Payne, 24, facing, talk before the start of the Gulf Coast League game between the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers at the Tigertown complex in Lakeland, Fla. on Wednesday, July 5, 2017.
  3. For starters: Souza not in lineup vs. Rangers



  4. Remember that famous Fred McGriff TV commercial? He's back, in a parody


    If you've ever seen Fred McGriff's TV commerical for Tom Emanski's Defensive Drills video it will always be fresh in your mind, with the deadpan delivery and famously ill-fitting cap.

  5. Fennelly: Is Charlie Strong the anti-Freeze?


    The Hugh Sleaze era at Ole Mess is over.

    Hugh Freeze resigned as head football coach Thursday to avoid being fired by Mississippi school officials. For those of you who had NCAA violations and investigations in the pool, you were wrong. Nor was it the defamation lawsuit filed against the school by former Rebels …

    FILE - In this Sept. 5, 2016, file photo, Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze pauses during a timeout in the team's NCAA college football game against Florida State in Orlando, Fla. Freeze has resigned after five seasons, bringing a stunning end to a once-promising tenure. The school confirmed Freeze's resignation in a release Thursday night. Assistant Matt Luke has been named the interim coach. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File) NY176