He knew some might view his decision to leave Boyle County High School, where he had been to six straight state championship games, to join a staff that might find its job status in jeopardy without a successful 2005 season.
But Smith has been through a similar situation. While Boyle was one of the state's best programs when he left, it was one of the state's worst programs when he arrived. He sees no reason that Kentucky can't rebuild the same way he rebuilt the program at Boyle.
"It's definitely similar to what I found at Boyle. It's the same kind of situation," Smith, a former UK linebacker, said. "At Boyle it turned around because the kids wanted it to. They paid the price and did the little things it took to win. A lot of people talk about doing the little things, but they are not willing to do them. Once this entire team buys into that theory, then we can get on the right track to turn it around. But from what I've seen, guys are buying in here and that's when you can get better."
Smith's position is thin in numbers, but he likes what he has seen from Kentucky's linebackers.
"I love the linebacker position. That's what I played and I always took a lot of pride in coaching the linebackers in high school and really focused on that position," Smith said. "It's been just as enjoyable here because those guys are coming to work every day with the intention of getting better. They have the right attitude and work ethic. I don't know how it has been before, but I like what I see because I know I have guys at my position willing to pay the price to get better."