"I've told our players, Smith told reporters at SEC Media Days, "this is what we'll face every week. Each week is a job interview. This job is on the line this week. We're going to go out and get that job. Weekly."
Since he was given the job Smith has had to answer questions about his joke-cracking persona compared that of his no nonsense predecessor. Razorback fans widely viewed Bobby Petrino's success as directly tied to his steely demeanor. Can the players respect and yes, fear Smith when he takes such a different approach to coaching them?
Senior linebacker Tank Wright offered this thoughts on that question. "His style is different form everyone else," Wright admitted. "He's enthusiastic but at the same time he can throw a joke in now and then."
"When he walks in the room," Wright continued, "you straighten up and make sure everything is right and proper but we have the chance to say, 'Coach how you doing? What's going on?' Shake his hand. He'll crack a joke. Ask you how your family is doing just to make sure that everything is right off the football field."
The players he inherited as head coach already knew his personality from Smith's time as an assistant coach on Petrino's staff. He knew them too which was one one of the main reasons he decided to try to convince athletic director Jeff Long that he was the right man to step in following Petrino's dismissal.
"I saw it as an opportunity to help kids that you love,' Smith recalled. "Kids that got caught up in an unstable situation."
Smith sold Long on the idea that hiring him was a way making that unstable situation easier on the players since there would be a minimal disruption. Their positions coaches would not change. The offense and defense would not change.
Smith also admitted that the situation was appealing for what it could do for him personally. In stops as a a head coach at Idaho, Utah State, Louisville and Michigan State Smith was always faced with a rebuilding job from the beginning.
No so with this job.
"My wife made that statement," Smith revealed. "She said, 'You've never taken over a football team this good.' "
"We're a good football team," Smith affirmed, "and we have a chance to be a great football team."
Throw in a staff of assistant coaches that are, by Smith's own assessment, the best he's ever worked with and you have on paper, at least, the makings of something very good coming out of something really bad from last spring.
Smith is hoping that what looks good on paper looks equally good on the playing field this fall.