Chuck Smith of St. Mary's Colgan. Brooks Barta of Holton. C.J. Hamilton of Silver Lake. Gene Weir of Olathe North. Marvin Diener of Gardner-Edgerton. Randy Dreiling of Hutchinson. Tim Callaghan of Shawnee Mission West. Tom Young of McPherson. What a list. . . . They're the eight active Kansas head coaches selected for the USA Today Best High School Football Coach, which starts at the state level before regional and national rounds. Voting for the state round began Sept. 30 and ends at noon Oct. 8 — http://contest.usatodayhss.com/vote/bestcoach2013/ks is the address. USA Today staffers chose eight coaches from the 50 states — plus Washington, D.C. — after consulting local media and other state or school officials well-versed in high school football. Over 400 coaches — 408, to be exact — were nominated. "It's a honor to be with that group of people," Smith said Wednesday night as the Panthers worked on their extra-point drills. "I know all of them, I've got a lot of respect for all of them and to be associated with that group means a lot to me. I appreciate the people who put me up for that. "Boy, USA Today being a national newspaper, it makes me proud to be a small part of it. I appreciate the people who vote for me. "This was a great program long before I ever showed up. Coach Crespino (Frank Crespino) did a great job and won a couple state championships (1974-75). Lon Farrell was before him and (Adolph) Spigarelli was before him. This was a great program before I got here and I hope I've done my part to keep it where it was before I showed up." In the 2011 season, Smith joined the 300-win club when the Panthers defeated Lyndon 38-13 on statewide TV in what was a district showdown of undefeated teams. The other 300-win coaches include Hamilton, Clifton-Clyde's Ed Buller, Young, Sedan's Les Davis and Smith Center's Roger Barta. "Well, it's good to get it over with," Smith told Aaron Amershek (one of Smith's former players) on the radio after the milestone victory. "I tell you what, I'm proud of all of them and I'm proud of the kids. You know, 300 is just unbelievable and the one that's probably most special was No. 1. I took the job from a great man, Frank Crespino, and I've got a world of respect for him and he's been a real gentleman ever since I took the job. I'm just real proud to be part of this with all the kids and a special thanks to Coach Cichon (defensive coordinator Wayne Cichon)." Smith, a former Pitt State player himself, took over the Colgan program in 1980 after he coached Topeka Hayden in 1979 to a 3-6 mark. The Panthers won a state title in 1984 and had the run of four straight state titles from 2000-2003 and 66 straight wins, once a state record. His four sons — Nick, Mark, Jeff and Chas — all played for Colgan and each went onto collegiate careers at Pitt State. Mark now coaches at Frontenac. Smith currently owns a 315-68 overall record, 312-62 at Colgan. As far as the other Kansas coaches nominated by USA Today, Hamilton leads all Kansas coaches in wins and approaches 400 (seven state titles), Young trails only Hamilton in career wins, Weir has won seven Class 6A state titles, Diener won six 5A titles at Salina Central, Dreiling has won seven state titles, Brooks Barta has won three 4A titles at Holton and Callaghan coached Shawnee Mission West to a 6A title last season. Yes, what a list.