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Michigan State Hires Jonathan Smith as Next Football Coach

CORVALLIS, OR - SEPTEMBER 09: Oregon State Beavers head coach Jonathan Smith walks off the field before a college football game between the UC Davis Aggies and Oregon State Beavers on September, 9, 2023 at Reser Stadium in Corvallis, OR. (Logan Hannigan-Downs/Icon Sportswire)

Michigan State has hired Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith to be its next football coach, the University announced Saturday afternoon.

Matt Zenitz of 247Sports was first to report, and it’s since been confirmed by multiple national outlets.

On Wednesday, John Brice of FootballScoop reported that Smith was Michigan State’s top target.

Smith had been Oregon State’s coach since 2018.

Over that time, he guided the Beavers from 2-10 in his first season to three consecutive winning seasons, highlighted by a 10-win campaign in 2022.

Before becoming Oregon State’s boss, Smith was a legendary player for the Beavers. He helped the team— led by head coach Dennis Erickson and which also featured future Bengals receivers Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh— to a Fiesta Bowl win in 2001, a game in which he was the MVP.

Michigan State has fallen on hard times, as evidenced by it closing out the 2023 season with a 42-0 loss to Penn State at Detroit’s Ford Field. Sparty had its second straight losing season, regressing slightly to 4-8 from 5-7 in 2022. The off the field problems were even worse, with coach Mel Tucker being fired in the wake of sexual harassment allegations.  Michigan State’s last big season was 2021, when it went 11-2 and beat Pitt in the Peach Bowl.

Before becoming the head coach at Oregon State, Jonathan Smith was the offensive coordinator at Washington (2014), the quarterbacks coach at Boise State (2012-13), the OC/QB coach at Montana (2010-11), the quarterbacks coach at Idaho (2004-09) and a GA at his alma mater (2002-03).

Penn State currently has a two-game winning streak over Michigan State and holds the prestigious Land Grant Trophy. But the team’s won’t be playing again until 2025 due to the Big Ten’s realignment.

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