A graduate of Bridgeport High School in Oklahoma, Smith joined the U.S.Navy and served with P.T.Boat Squadron #23 in the Phillipine campaign during WW II. Graduated from Central State College in Oklahoma after the war, after compiling letters in football, basketball, track and baseball.
Started coaching career at Capitol Hill High School in 1948 as football assistant and Head baseball coach. Also coached American Legion baseball team, winning several state titles and taking team to second place finish in Legion World Series in Bismarck, N.D. in 1955. John moved up to college coaching in 1958 at Central State as head basketball and baseball coach and assistant in football. He took his basketball team to two NAIA championships and his football coaching aided the team in playing in the Little Rose Bowl in 1961. In 1962 Smith moved to Caldwell High School in Idaho and took his basketball team with Ray McDonald to a 20-3 record in the state tourney.
He then came to the University of Idaho as an assistant under Steve Musse au and took over the Head Baseball duties in 1966. He took the Vandals to three NCAA Regional tourneys, at Colorado Springs, Moscow, and Tempe, Arizona. Smith fed his Vandals to a two game sweep of the Air Force Academy in Moscow before the largest crowd ever to watch a baseball game in Moscow. Smith's Vandals also lost two close games to Arizona St. the National Champions, at Tempe. He had an outstanding baseball program at Idaho, working with limited scholarship help, but developing many outstanding student-athletes.
He also served as assistant basketball coach under Wayne Anderson and coached the Idaho frosh team. John G. Smith's baseball teams won three Big Sky Championships. When baseball was dropped at Idaho, Smith was asked to take over the athletic equipment department and he reorganized the department with great success and was the manager until his retirement in 1988. Smith, with his wife, Rosalie, have three sons, Whitney, Hank and Greg. Greg is currently the offensive assistant to Dennis Erickson at Miami. John is an avid and talented fisherman, especially with steelhead and bass and can compete on the golf course with the best, while being one of the best coffee drinkers in Moscow.
His devotion to family, the great student athletes, and the great respect he has from the coaching fraternity, qualifies him for the Half of Fame. The Will Rogers-Abe Lemons brand of humor ably dispensed by John G. Smith will long be remembered throughout the world of athletics.