For most programs, success typically is followed by concern for the coach leaving. Thanks to Jonathan Smith, the Oregon State Beavers‘ program sits in that boat.
So, should they be worried about him leaving? Yes and no.
Is Oregon State Head Coach Jonathan Smith Leaving?
When you produce your first 10-win season since 2006, people take notice. Both within your program and externally. Smith took a program struggling to make a bowl game and turned it into a Pac-12 contender in a short amount of time. So, naturally, the spotlight gravitated his way.
The college football coaching carousel continues to spin, and Smith’s in the line to potentially get on the ride. That’s what happens when you win. Now, only a close circle of people know if he’s interested in heading elsewhere, but it’s easy to see why he would on the surface.
When he took over the program, Oregon State won just 7 games over the previous 3 seasons, and it didn’t get better right away. Doubt crept in when Smith led them to just 9 wins in the next 3 seasons, but something clicked in 2021. A 7-6 finish was the catalyst, and Smith’s Beavers haven’t looked back since that point.
The question is will he leave? There’s always a scenario in which he does. Teams want a proven winner who can turn around a struggling program. It’s part of the territory. Sometimes it works and sometimes it ends poorly.
There’s also the question of what’s the future for Oregon State. Abandoned with Washington State by everyone else in the Pac-12, what does the future hold for the Beavers in a conference of two? Is it enough for Smith to stick around?
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On paper, of course, it makes sense that he’d be coveted for certain jobs, but would he be a good fit at programs like Texas A&M or Mississippi State? Does he need a special connection? One thing that keeps fans hopeful is his connection to the school, and it’s part of why he’s been so successful in Corvallis.
Smith’s Ties to the Beavers
Here’s the saving grace for any team that hires an alumnus: the emotional factor weighs in on their decision. Smith bleeds black and orange going back to his playing days. The former Beavers quarterback also started his coaching career at Oregon State as a graduate assistant.
So, naturally, the narrative surrounding his stay in Corvallis remains strong. Everyone loves a good story, and this is one of the better stories in the sport.
In this day and age, nothing lasts forever. It’s rare to find a coach with longevity, but it does make that person even more special in college football. There’s no guarantee of success with an alumni running the show. Just ask Nebraska.
Coaching is hard, and Smith’s success deserves a ton of praise. He’s already 6th in program history in wins, and it appears that his best days are still ahead of him. Gone are the 2-win seasons, and the Beavers hope that keeping him means 10-win seasons can become a regular occurrence.
Smith could very well take a job elsewhere and it would make sense. A competitive nature combined with the opportunity to utilize more resources always presents a temptation to leave, even for Smith. Oregon State is just in a unique spot where they have a stronger bond with their head coach.
So maybe he leaves and maybe he doesn’t. His run with the program will go down as special regardless of the outcome. If he leaves, it’s well deserved and fans should wish him well. If he stays, fans have a legacy that they’ll remember forever. Either way, it speaks more to the success of Oregon State than anything.