Oregon State’s Jonathan Smith hired as Michigan State’s next football coach, replacing Mel Tucker

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Michigan State announced Saturday Oregon State head coach Jonathan Smith will become the Spartans’ next head coach.

Smith has served as the Beavers’ head coach six years. The 2022 season was arguably his most successful. The team has 10 wins and earned a spot in the AP Top 25. Smith also received Pac-12 Coach of the Year honors.

Smith’s name had been previously linked to Michigan State after the Spartans fired Mel Tucker following sexual harassment allegations. The university determined Tucker violated school policy and terminated the fourth-year coach.

“Jonathan has a proven track record of success, building the Oregon State program from the ground up by implementing a plan resulting in sustained historic success for the Beavers,” Michigan State athletic director Alan Haller said in a statement. 

“He’s been a part of championship staffs, coached in the College Football Playoff and understands what’s required to be successful at the highest level, learning from some of the game’s most successful coaches.

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Haller also praised Smith for his track record of recruiting at a high level.

“On the field, his teams are tough and physical, yet innovative. This year, Oregon State has controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, ranking among the nation’s leaders in both rushing offense and rushing defense. He’s shown not only the ability to recruit talented student-athletes who fit his system, but also to develop and maximize players once they’re in the program.”

Smith posted a 34-35 record over his six seasons on the Oregon State sideline. After winning just 9 games during his first three seasons, the program began showing signs of improvement during the back half of his tenure.

Oregon State rewarded Smith with a contract extension following a 10-win 2022 campaign.

Jonathan Smith looks on during a game

Smith spent his playing days at Oregon State, quarterbacking the team from 1998-2001. 

He then spent a decade and a half working as an assistant coach with multiple programs, before landing the head coaching job at his alma mater in 2018.

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He was on the Washington staff when the team won the Pac-12 title and advanced to the College Football Playoff in 2016.

The Pac-12 faces an uncertain future with at least 10 schools expected to leave the conference prior to the start of the 2024 season.

Jonathan Smith on the field as his team warms up

Smith will now be tasked with helping Michigan State football return to prominence. The Spartans won 11 games under Tucker in 2021, but the program has largely lacked the same level of consistent success it saw under former coach Mark Dantonio.

Michigan State finished the 2022 season with a 5-7 record. The Spartans were shut out by Penn State Friday to close the regular season with a 4-8 record.

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