Jonathan Smith is returning to where he started.
Washington’s co-offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith has been hired by Oregon State to be the Beavers’ head coach, the school formally announced Wednesday night.
Oregon State has been in the market for a new coach since Gary Andersen surprisingly stepped down in early October after a 1-5 start, with the victory coming over lower-division Portland State.
Smith is a former Beavers quarterback who has been working as quarterbacks coach for coach Chris Petersen since 2012, starting at Boise State and following him to Washington in 2014.
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He also had stops as an assistant at Montana and Idaho. He was a graduate assistant at Oregon State from 2002-03.
“Oregon State University is a special place and I have many memories of being a part of Beaver Nation,” Smith said in a statement. “I played for some of the best coaches I have ever been around and learned many of the qualities I have utilized in my coaching career.”
Smith was a walk-on in Corvallis, playing for the Beavers from 1998-2001. He was on Oregon State’s 2000 team that went 11-1 and defeated Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl under coach Dennis Erickson.
A fan favorite during his playing days, Smith ranks third on Oregon State’s career list with 55 touchdown passes and 9,680 passing yards. He holds the record for the longest touchdown pass in school history, with a 97-yards TD pass to Chad Johnson in 2000.
“We interviewed several qualified candidates and Coach Smith emerged as our top choice,” athletic director Scott Barnes said. “He brings to Oregon State football an impressive plan to build our program. He has a unique perspective on what it means to be a part of Beaver Nation and to be successful for our student-athletes on and off the field.”
After Anderson stepped down, the Beavers promoted cornerbacks coach Corry Hall as interim head coach. Hall appeared to inspire the team, which challenged Stanford in a close 15-14 loss. And a group of players started an online petition supporting Hall, as well as a Twitter hastag #HALLin.
But Hall’s connection to the players didn’t translate to wins. The Beavers wrapped up the season with a 69-10 loss to rival Oregon in the Civil War rivalry game to finish 1-11 overall and 0-9 in conference.
“I feel very positive about the future of that football team in there,” Hall said following the Civil War loss outside the Beavers’ locker room, “because I know they’ve learned a lot and I know they’ll be in good hands.”
Hall’s status on the staff with Smith as head coach is not known.
“It definitely took a toll on us,” senior linebacker Manase Hungalu said about the season and Andersen’s abrupt departure. “It was definitely a situation you would not want the players to be in halfway through the season. It’s tough for the players, it’s tough for the whole community.”
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