Tilghman taps Smith as interim coach
“I’ve seen a lot of people and how they do things,” Smith said. “It’s been very enlightening for me for the last three years. They (Tilghman) wanted me to learn my job before I could start volunteer coaching again.
"It’s been frustrating because of how much I love the game. It’s been really nice to be able to watch how other teams and coaches go about their business. It’s been extremely valuable in terms of learning new information.”
He said there are no plans to radically alter Tilghman’s offense and defense, especially so close to the start of the season, which comes in less than three weeks.
“To be honest, I think right now that would be a foolish decision to try and change at this point, considering we’ve been out here going at it now for almost a month,” Smith said.
“It’d be very foolish on my part to come in and say that we’re going to go in here and scrap everything, and this is what we’re going to do. A. you’re going to lose buy-in from the kids. B. you’re going to lose buy-in from the coaches. We’ve got a phenomenal group of coaches. They’re top-notch. They all know the game inside and out. They all know how to talk to kids in a positive way."
The playbook notwithstanding, Smith said there are vital things to focus on as he starts the job – after he met with his assistant coaches Sunday and the team's seniors on Monday afternoon.
“I think, right now, the most important thing for us is to kind of use this to come together," Smith said. "The one thing that I have learned more than anything else I learned from (longtime coach) Ray Shanks. Plays and offenses and defenses don’t win games for you. Execution of plays and offenses and defenses is what wins games for you.
“Am I going to say that we’re not going to adapt to who we are throughout the season? No. But that’s every football team in the state of Kentucky. Where you are July 9 when you begin practice compared to where you are game 5, game 6 or game 7, depending on injuries or a whole myriad of other things. Am I going to say that’s not going to change slightly? No. My goal is to perfect what we do. I feel like that’s the best opportunity we give the kids, and that’s what I think that’s all about."
As for his coaching philosophy, Smith said it all had to do with preparing his players for life after football.
“My job, whether that’s as an assistant, or a coordinator or a position coach or now as the interim head coach, is to put the kids in the best position so that they always know what to do … to be successful young men when football is over," Smith said. "At some point in time, football comes to an end. We don’t ever know when that’s going to be. It could be abruptly, like what’s happening with Coach Duncan, or it could be by choice. Our goal is to create, to put a positive impact on these kids and put them in a position to succeed.”
Smith, 39, a Mayfield native, earned a bachelor's degree in middle school education from Murray State. He is married to Sarah, and they have three children, Hunter, Lilly and Andrew. He was an assistant coach on the 2009 Tilghman team that won a Class 2A state championship.