It was quite a change for Smith, who had been dogged by criticism from Kentucky's notoriously demanding "Big Blue Nation" fans.
From the moment he stepped on stage decked out in Gopher tie, it was clear just how different things will be in Minnesota.
Smith inherits a team that went nine-and-22 last season and three-and-13 in the Big Ten, alienating the Gophers' once-vocal fan base.
So athletics director Joel Maturi set out to find a big-name coach who would sell season tickets and energize lethargic fans. He shelled out one-point-seven-five million dollars a year for seven years to lure Smith away from Kentucky.