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Michigan State football: Notes from Jonathan Smith’s introductory presser

What did Smith have to say about the new job?



Michigan State football
© Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Jonathan Smith had his introductory Michigan State football press conference on Tuesday afternoon. Here are some notes.

If you’re an active reader of Spartan Shadows then you are already well aware of what’s transpired in the last three months within the Michigan State football program. If you’re new, welcome!

Here is a quick review for you:

Sept. 27: Head coach Mel Tucker officially fired
All of October and November: coaching search and Urban Meyer frenzy
Nov. 25 – Oregon State’s Jonathan Smith named next head coach of the Spartans

The official introductory press conference for the new head coach happened on Tuesday at noon from the Breslin Center.

Here are the highlights:

MSU AD Al Haller introduced Jonathan Smith

Haller thanked many of the parties involved in the coaching search and cited that there were 12 candidates who were interviewed at least once. It was a job that was in high demand. In speaking with student-athletes, alumni, and donors, they were looking for a coach who:

  • Was of high character
  • Valued authentic relationships
  • Was committed to building a program
  • Developed on and off the field
  • Engaged with the community
  • Held a proven track record
  • Had a great vision for the program
  • Believed football should be tough, physical, and innovative

Jonathan Smith addressed the room

Smith thanks Haller, the Board of Trustees, the community, and his alma mater, Oregon State. He was emotional when talking about his family and OSU which says a lot about his character. His story includes being born one mile from the ‘Granddaddy of Them All’: The Rose Bowl. He walked on as a quarterback to Oregon State and always knew he wanted to coach.

His coaching history included:

Idaho -> Montana -> Boise State -> Washington -> Oregon State

Smith is process-oriented, believes MSU is a national brand, and is very appreciative of the in-state rivalry with Michigan. I’m sure he has much more to learn. He also ended his monologue with his first-ever public ‘Go Green!’

Jonathan Smith answered questions from the media

  • Leaving his alma mater was not easy. He was selective in the process and wanted to coach a school with the opportunity to win, resources to support, and a great fanbase.
  • He acknowledged his lack of Midwest ties but mentioned his intention for his assistants’ support.
  • Smith would like to learn more about MSU’s resources for mental health and looks to remove any stigmas from the current roster.
  • From his success at OSU, he says it’s important to build trust with the players and learn their stories. A clear message and doing everything with the right intention.
  • Catchphrases: ‘low ego, high output’, ‘selfless’, ‘team game’ – I think we have endured enough from the ‘Tuck Comin’’ area.
  • Smith will lean on Mark Dantonio in regards to his past success at MSU but also acknowledges the landscape has changed since
  • Quarterbacks will have success in his system and being the starting quarterback at MSU is an unbelievable opportunity.
  • The shuffling of the Pac-12 was not a factor in his decision to leave. Finding a place that was the right fit was very important and Smith had the opportunity to be selective.
  • Saw MSU’s film against Washington and Rutgers and was excited by the talent on the roster.

This is one of my more ‘serious’ posts for Spartan Shadows and that’s because this is the most important hire in Michigan State football history. From what I’ve seen so far, I believe Haller got it right.

Back to humor in the next one.


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