Coach Smith revives OSU football program


Jakob Jones

Fans seen here cheering on the Oregon State Beavers inside Reser Stadium when they faced off against the Univeristy of Washington Huskies in Corvallis on Oct. 2, 2021. The Beavers went 6-0 at home during the 2020-21 football season and became bowl eligible for the first time since 2013

Sam Misa, Sports Contributor

After starting from the bottom, Head Football Coach Jonathan Smith has spent the past three years trying to bring back the glory days of the Oregon State University football team.

This past season finally saw the Oregon State Beavers come out as a winning team, fin- ishing with an overall record of 7-5. However, the road was far from smooth for Smith, who was himself a former quarterback for Oregon State in the early 2000s.

Fortunately for the Beavers, Smith is no stranger to challenges and is not known to back down from them. After all, Smith did just so happen to be the four-year starter quarterback that gave OSU their all-time best season back in 2001, having finished with a 11-1 record and 41-9 victory against the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Fiesta Bowl.

When Smith joined OSU football as the head coach in November of 2017, the Beavers had finished their previous season with a record of 1-11. This also marked the first head coaching position for Smith, as the last positions he held were the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the University of Washington Huskies.

With the Huskies, Smith’s offensive scheme garnered an average score of 36.2 points a game, which was the 17th highest out of 130 teams in the nation. When he became head coach to the Beavers, OSU scored at 26.21 points per game, approximately 10 points less than than the Huskies did in the previous year—the Beavers were 90th out of 130 in that category.

In addition, Smith also had to worry about a defense that was second to last in the PAC-12 conference during his first year as head coach. During that season in 2018, the Beavers defense gave up an average 45.7 points per game.

Smith would finish the 2018 season with a record of 2-10. Undeterred, Smith spent both the 2019 and 2020 seasons fighting to turn the records around. Smith finished the 2019 season with a record of 5-7 and the 2020 shortened season with a record of 2-5. But it wasn’t until this past season that Smith saw success.

Not only did he obtain success, but the Oregon State football team finished the regular season with a 7-5 record that included going 6-0 at home. This was the first time Oregon State went undefeated at home since 2000, when Smith himself was a player.

“It’s honestly crazy because when I look back at 2018, just at where we were and the amount of work that needed to be done,” said Oregon State redshirt-junior inside linebacker Jack Colletto. “And to be a part of that process, and the rebuild and the change, and to finally be where we’re at—not just for me and the

players coming in, but the guys who’ve been here forever, especially the seniors… they paid their dues and they never quit when things were dim, and honestly, they deserve it more than anybody.”

Smith said it’s been a process all the players have worked really hard at.

“We’re a better football team and we’re win- ning some more games,” Smith said. “Each time you can win, it sets yourself up for the potential of bigger games. If you wanna win a game, you’ve got to play well and execute, however the stakes are and wherever it ends up being.”

The 2021 season also had its own ups and downs, including the repeat offender of the Beaver defense not being where it needed to be. This led to Smith firing the team’s defensive coordinator in November 2021.

“I felt it was the right time to make a change in our football program and have relieved Coach Tim Tibesar of his duties at Oregon State,” Smith said in a statement. “All of us thank Coach Tibesar for his hard work and professionalism the past four years and wish him nothing but the best moving forward.”

While the long-term results of letting Tibesar go in favor of utilizing the inside line- backer coordinator Trent Bray as an interim defensive coordinator will not be visible until the 2022 season, Smith will be there well into the 2020s.

Smith is set to be head coach of the Oregon State Beavers up through the 2027 season, and a recent update to his contract as a result of this season’s performance has increased his salary significantly as well. This included a $362,500 increase in his salary for 2021.

On top of his new salary, Smith recently coached in his first bowl game when the Oregon State Beavers faced off against the Utah State Aggies in the Jimmy Kimmel L.A. Bowl in Los Angeles, Calif. on Dec. 18, 2021.

Although the Beavers lost to the Aggies by a score of 24-13, there was still a sea of orange and black that covered SoFi Stadium, which was very reminiscent of Reser Stadium.

Redshirt-sophomore quarterback Chance Nolan did say that playing inside of Reser Stadium this season was memorable for him and his team.

“We did some good things for the town of Corvallis,” said Nolan after the loss. “And they were really with us the whole way. I think playing at Reser was one of the most awesome experiences for all of us and just having the student body out there, we could feel them then and even today.”

While the Beavers did end their memo rable season with a loss, there are plenty of positives that can be taken away from this season, and Smith and his team will look forward to their season opener against the Boise State University Broncos on Sept. 3, 2022 in Corvallis, Ore.

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