Billy & Boone Goldsmith
This may be my toughest column because many readers will know much more about the topic than I do. But, I let John Combs, my son, pick this topic.
After looking at a list of over 70 coaches, he said, “write about Coach Goldsmith!” Billy had been in town just a few days earlier and came by the house for a visit. When Billy is around, my kids hang on every word he says.
The first time I met Billy, I literally bumped into him – on our sideline. We were scrimmaging Boyle County in August, 1998 on their practice field. I was on the sideline coaching our kids. As I was talking to Carl Overly, I noticed I’ve bumped into someone wearing a great big straw hat!
Nice as always, Billy made a comment to the effect of, “Good job there coach, coaching a little technique.”
I didn’t know what to think. Here is this coach we were playing a week from then (Billy was the defensive coordinator at Rowan County, the team we were opening up with), and he was standing on our sideline, basically hearing everything we are talking about.
The craziest thing was, he was so doggone friendly like we had know each other our whole lives. It would be an understatement to say he had made an impression.
As we coached against each other, I really admired and respected Billy as both a person and a coach. He was a great guy and a great coach. Whether it was as a defensive coordinator or the head coach, his teams were always well-coached and well-prepared.
He probably doesn’t realize this, but a comment he made to me in 1998 had a big impact on our offense and program. Although Rowan County had beaten us that year, we had been able to do some good things offensively. Billy told me something to the effect of, “If you could ever go no-huddle and change formations (using spread sets and the more conventional I-formation sets), it would make you very difficult to defend.”
Billy had a reputation as a very good football coach and I thought a lot about what he said. We worked on doing exactly what he had told me, and he was right – it really did make us much better.
Now it is common for many teams to do that. Whether he realized it at the time or not, Billy had a really good handle on the direction offensive football was headed in the 21st century.
Along with learning football, I have learned a lot about being a dad and coaching your son from Billy. When Billy was coaching Boone at Lawrence County, and then when they moved to Boyle County, I was really impressed with how Billy handled it. I am not sure a dad/coach could have navigated that situation any better than Billy did.
It is a blessing to coach your son, but there are a lot of tough things that go with it. I have tried to approach things with John Combs similar to the way Billy handled coaching Boone.
When we were putting together our Kentucky All-Star staff for the 2005 Kentucky-Tennessee game, Billy was the perfect guy to coach our running backs and to get us started each day with stretching and warming up.
That team was loaded with running backs. How would you get all of these stud running backs to accept their position on the team, put the team first, and do what we needed to win?
Because of his ability as a coach and his incredible people skills, I knew he would be the guy that could pull it off – and he did.
We beat Tennessee by two touchdowns that night. Our team chemistry was outstanding, which was a pretty big accomplishment with an all-star team in one week’s time. Billy was the number-one piece of the puzzle in pulling together all the personalities and egos to become one team.
For me, one of the best parts of coaching in Maysville and Mason County has been the connection to Billy and that he was a great Maysville Bulldog football player. His picture is hanging on our wall in our locker room from his days playing at Morehead State. He came down one Monday night to do a fundraiser for us with his stand-up comedy routine – he is very talented and a natural comedian.
I have also enjoyed that Billy is now coaching with my old high school coach, Larry French, at Boyle County. Coach French and Billy could not have more different personalities, but they are two outstanding football coaches that love kids. And, I think Billy really likes being back in the black and gold!