Five Candidates to Replace Jonathan Smith at Oregon State

    The Oregon State Beavers are looking for a new head coach after Jonathan Smith decided to take the Michigan State Spartans job.

    After speculation as to whether Oregon State head coach Jonathan Smith would move on to another job, the news finally came that the Michigan State Spartans were the choice. It was reported Saturday morning that Smith was going to be taking over the Spartans program just months after they fired Mel Tucker after sexual harassment allegations pointed toward him.

    With Oregon State now searching for a new head coach, here are some candidates to consider to take over.

    Top Five Candidates for Oregon State

    Brian Lindgren (Current Job: Offensive Coordinator Oregon State)

    If the Beavers wanted to keep things in-house, six-year offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren would make for a logical choice.

    Oregon State’s offense has been ranked in the top five in the Pac-12 in total offense, averaging 426.9 yards per game. It’s been their second-best offensive output for the Beavers since 2014. During Lindgren’s tenure as offensive coordinator, the offense has only had one season where they averaged less than 400 yards per game, which was in 2022, where they averaged 396 yards per game.

    The Beavers’ offense has been rolling since Lindgren took over, as from 2014 through 2017, they were ranked in the bottom five in the Pac-12 in total offense. This could be his chance to take over for his first head coaching job in college. It would also help keep their players and top recruits there, knowing there is stability at the program.

    Brent Brennan (Current Job: Head Coach San Jose State)

    After the incredible turnaround for San Jose State, winning five straight games after starting the 2023 season 1-5, head coach Brent Brennan appears to be a name Oregon State should keep their eyes on.

    Before San Jose State, Brennan spent six seasons with Oregon State, coaching their wide receivers from 2011 through 2016. He would then join the Spartans program as Brennan is about to conclude his seventh season at San Jose State. During that span, the school has gone 32-47 but has had three winning seasons in the last four years, including a 7-1 record during the Covid-19 season in 2020 to win the Mountain West Conference title.

    Brennan was able to turn around the San Jose State program, going from three wins in his first two seasons to an average of six wins per season in the last five years. Having experience in the northwest and knowing the Oregon State football program well should give Brennan an advantage. Plus, with Oregon State about to play Mountain West teams more often starting next year, it gives the Beavers good intel on how to beat their opponents.

    Kevin Cummings (Current Job: Wide Receivers Coach Arizona)

    Kevin Cummings is no stranger to Oregon State as he has been associated with the program since being a player.

    Cummings played at Oregon State from 2010 through 2013 as a wide receiver and on special teams. After brief stops in the Arena Football League and the Canadian Football League, he joined the Beavers’ coaching staff as an offensive quality control assistant from 2014 until 2016. He would move on to San Jose State to be their wide receivers coach from 2017 through 2020. Arizona would give him a call to be their wide receivers coach and has been there since 2021.

    While Cummings hasn’t been a coordinator or head coach, his boss at San Jose State Brennan went down a similar path which worked out well for San Jose State. Cummings is known as a stellar recruiter and played a key role in Arizona’s turnaround to being an eight-win team in 2023. It seems like a stretch, but Cummings is a sleeper pick to win the job.

    Kalani Sitake (Current Job: Head Coach BYU)

    From the moment Kalani Sitake took the head coaching job at BYU, the Cougars have been consistent winners and could make for a no-brainer choice for Oregon State.

    The Beavers are familiar with Sitake as he was their defensive coordinator for one season in 2015 before taking the BYU head coaching job. Since 2016, BYU has gone 61-40 with only one losing season during that span. Sitake was tasked with helping with the transition for the Cougars to the Big 12 this season as the team currently sits at 5-6, going 2-6 in the conference.

    Sitake played at BYU and has performed well with the school, so it might seem like a stretch to grab him, but BYU has taken a step back with the move to the Big 12. There’s no doubt Oregon State will have a transition period as the death of the Pac-12 is nearing its official existence, so making a big move like hiring Sitake would send a message that the program will not take a step back.

    Mike Riley (Current Job: Head Coach New Jersey Generals, USFL)

    An old, familiar name that Oregon State fans can trust, as Mike Riley could bring back the winning ways of Oregon State.

    In his 14 seasons coaching the Beavers as head coach, Riley has a record of 93-80 overall, including eight winning seasons for Oregon State. He coached Nebraska to a 19-19 record from 2015 until 2017. Riley has since been coaching professional spring football with his current job in the USFL for the New Jersey Generals, holding a 12-8 record in two seasons with the league.

    Having gone to high school in Oregon and knowing the area well, Riley is a name people know and can help the program with their transition. It might end up being the last ride for Riley as a college head coach, but one that could be a successful run for the Beavers.

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