CEO ROOTING SECTION: Brad Smith
Brad Smith has served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Intuit, Inc., since 2008. He will transition into the company’s executive chairman role on Jan. 1, 2019. Intuit is a business and financial software company that has developed accounting and tax preparation software such as TurboTax for small businesses and individuals. The company’s headquarters are in Mountain View.
What is your favorite college football team and why?
My favorite team is the Marshall University Thundering Herd. I grew up in Kenova, West Virginia, a town of 3,500 where the states of Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia meet on the Ohio River. (Thus, the inspiration for the name KEN-O-VA.) The population is 3,500 if you round it up! The town was famous for being a high school football powerhouse: The Ceredo-Kenova Wonders. They won 10 high school football state championships in a 20-year period before being consolidated into neighboring schools as the population declined. Ceredo-Kenova High also produced standout Major League pitcher Don Robinson and Grammy Award-winning singer Michael W. Smith. Yet Kenova is perhaps best known for being home to Tri-State Airport, where the Marshall University football team’s charter plane came up short of the runway and crashed on a rainy November night in 1970. The entire team perished. This inspired the film, “We Are Marshall,” starring actor Matthew McConaughey. I was six years old when the plane crashed. I remember the sirens and the news flashes on the local TV stations as if it were yesterday. The airport was a mile away from my home. Marshall was a 15-minute drive in the neighboring city of Huntington. From that tragedy, I watched families, a community, a university, a football program and a state rebuild from those ashes and go on to seize glory as Marshall became one of the winningest programs of the 1990’s. Along the way, it produced elite athletes such as Chad Pennington, Randy Moss and Byron Leftwich. All three were Heisman Trophy finalists. I ultimately attended Marshall University, as did both of my brothers, several aunts and uncles, my cousins and my niece and nephew. We Are All Marshall!
What is your favorite memory from following your team?
While I didn’t attend the game, it would have to be the 31-28 victory over East Tennessee State in 1984. I was a Marshall University sophomore that season. The triumph in the ETSU Mini-Dome in Johnson City, Tenn., on Nov. 17, 1984, gave the Thundering Herd its first winning season in 20 years. The victory also symbolically completed the comeback of the program from the 1970 plane crash.
What is it about college football that makes it so compelling and exciting to you?
I think college football is the purest version of the game. It is where athletes are also students in pursuit of building a brighter future for themselves and their families. That pursuit can take the form of professional football dreams, earning a diploma or a variety of other goals. But the passion and hunger embedded in those dreams shows up in the game. School rivalries mean something and traditions remain steadfast over multiple generations. And when it is at its purest, you see the elite student athletes, such as those nominated for the William V. Campbell Trophy (the “Academic Heisman”) go on to become major pillars and leaders both on and off the field.