The dawn of a new era: Michigan State will commence Spring Football with Jonathan Smith leading the charge.

Michigan State will commence the first of 15 Spring practices today (Mar 19), followed by a “Spring Showcase” on Saturday, Apr 20.

The Spring Showcase will provide a modified scrimmage and the Showcase is open to the public. It will give everyone a sneak peak at Jonathan Smith’s new team. The Showcase will also conclude Spring practice, thereby setting the table for the highly anticipated 2024 Football season.

As a proud Spartan Alum, and with research statistics as my guide, I look forward with great anticipation to the Jonathan Smith era because he has been a winner at every stop.

There is no equivocation, I was not a supporter of Mel Tucker when he was hired, and he proved me right. The numbers don’t lie and Tucker was over his head. Tucker posted a losing record at Colorado then came to Michigan State and did more of the same.

Yet, Jonathan Smith is everything Mel Tucker wasn’t: Smith is a proven winner.

After all, Smith exceeded expectations as a player and as a head coach when he helped transform Oregon State from a perennial loser into a winner.

As a player, Smith inherited a team that compiled a deplorable 5-35 (12%) PAC 12 W/L record from 1994 t0 1998, including two winless seasons.

Yet after arriving at Oregon State in 1999 Smith executed a remarkable turnaround his first season by posting a 7-5 record overall and a 4-4 PAC 12 record.

And in just his second season, Smith compiled an improbable record of 11-1 overall including 7-1 PAC-12 record, a #1 PAC-12 finish followed by a 41-9 victory vs Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl and that culminated in a #4 national ranking.

So, in just two years, Smith guided Oregon State to a remarkable turnaround: from loser to champion.

Then after embarking upon a 17-year career as an Assistant Coach at some of the best programs in the country, including Boise State and Washington, Smith returned to Oregon State as Head Coach, but once again Oregon State had fallen into disarray and Smith inherited a dreadful team again.

From 2017 to 2019, Oregon State under HC Gary Andersen compiled a deplorable record of 3-24 (11%) PAC-12, including two winless seasons.

It took Smith 3 years to stabilize the losing program he inherited, but in 2022, Smith led Oregon State to a 10-3 record overall, including 6-3 PAC-12 W/L record, a 30-3 Las Vegas Bowl victory vs Florida and a top 20 ranking.


Smith is set to execute a Turnaround at Michigan State:

There is no equivocating, Mel Tucker failed in almost every conceivable facet as Michigan State Head Football coach and departed Michigan State in shame.

Not only did Tucker fail to demonstrate proper moral conduct, but he also failed miserably on the Football pitch by compiling an unpardonable Big Ten record of 5-13 (28%) in his final two seasons.

Last season, the team Tucker built and the coaching staff he assembled, compiled an unforgiveable Big Ten record of 2-7 in Tucker’s 4th season and only managed narrow 3 point victories vs Nebraska and Indiana, both of which posted losing Big Ten records.

Although Tucker was not on the Sidelines to coach vs Big Ten opponents last season, nevertheless it was the team he built that failed miserably.

Moreover, it was the massive lopsided losses that resonate and underscore Tucker’s failure as a coach: the Spartans lost to Washington, Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State by a cumulative score of 10-170 or a massive losing point differential of 160 points including scoreless games vs Michigan and Penn State.

So, let’s make this clear, Mel Tucker failed in virtually every conceivable way.

After being fired for “cause” including the fact he was fired for moral turpitude which cast disrespect on Michigan State University and its 500,000 distinguished alumni, it’s notable Tucker sacrificed nearly $80 Mn in compensation, and is now being sued by Brenda Tracy for $75 Mn.

Instead of retiring as a million dollar coach, Tucker will arguably live out his life in disrespect and poverty. It’s a sad tale of Shakespearian proportions.

Tucker seemed more focused upon Cigar Soirees, driving Exotic Cars, and chasing women than earning his $95 Mn compensation, yet Tucker had neither a plan nor a compass.

Consequently, Tucker will be indelibly etched into the annals of Spartan Football as “the worst” coaching hire in Michigan State history: worse than Muddy Waters, worse than Bobby Williams and even worse than John L. Smith (imagine that).

So, goodbye Mel Tucker and welcome Jonathan Smith.


The heartbeat of competing for championships is recruiting championship caliber players:

Mel Tucker talked about changing the culture, recruiting championship players, and winning championships, but it was all talk.

Tucker whined that he needed better facilities and more NIL money to recruit championship caliber players, yet that was a different story than the recruiting pitch he told in his introductory press conference when he proclaimed he could recruit with the best.

On the other hand, Jonathan Smith didn’t “talk” about recruiting, he simply made it happen.

When Jonathan Smith was hired on Nov 25, just 4 months ago, Michigan State’s 2024 recruiting class had dwindled to just 7 players and ranked at the bottom of the Big Ten.

Moreover, the recruiting class ranked #100 or worse when measured amongst 130 FBS Schools.

Like rodents fleeing a sinking ship, recruits were fleeing from Mel Tucker and his band of incompetent coaching assistants.

Yet, Jonathan Smith and his highly regarded coaching staff went to work on the recruiting trail after he arrived at Michigan State and has plenty to show for it.

In short order, Smith and his staff enticed more than 21 HS players to join the Spartans, and thereafter convinced 10 Transfers to join the Spartans as well.

In all, Smith and his staff enticed 31 players in less than 60 days to join the Spartans, which was an increase of 24 players from the meager class of 7 players he inherited from Tucker.

So, in less than 2 months Jonathan Smith acquired a remarkable recruiting class, including five (5) 4-Stars, which included a Wide Receiver, an Offensive Tackle, Tight End, Linebacker, and the recruiting class was underscored and highlighted by Aidan Chiles who was ranked the #1 Quarterback in the Transfer Portal.

Let’s remember, 4-Stars are the playmakers, the game changers, most of whom will have NFL careers, so in the 11th hour, after most recruits were already committed to other programs, Smith enticed five (5) 4-Star players to join with him and his plan to build a champion at Michigan State.

Most importantly, Smith focused his first recruiting class upon building the “offensive trenches” whereby he recruited 5 Offensive Linemen.

Let’s remember, the once proud, Spartan Rushing Offense was an abject failure under Mel Tucker and Chris Kapilovic.

Of course, Mel Tucker’s O-Line Coach and Run Game Coordinator was Chris Kapilovic who was desperately over his head, finishing consistently near the bottom of 130 FBS schools in Rush Offense. Those dismal Rushing rankings included #122 in 2020; #111 in 2022 and #125 in 2023.

So, 3 out of 4 years Tucker’s Rush Offense finished in the bottom 15th percentile of 130 FBS Schools, and of course in 2023 the Rush Offense ranked in the bottom 4th Percentile. Only 5 schools amongst 130 were worse.

But Tucker’s Rush Offense ranked even worse within the Big Ten, ranking #13, 2020 at 88 YPG…#12, 2022 at 95 YPG…and #14 (Dead Ass Last) in 2023 at a meager 81 YPG or an unspeakably dismal Big Ten average of 88 YPG.

Let’s be clear, in most years, Rushing for less than 175 Yards per game in the “ground pounding Big Ten” is simply a recipe for losing yet that is the legacy left behind by Mel Tucker and Chris Kapilovic.

So, we need to ask the question: what exactly was Chris Kapilovic coordinating for $1Mn per yr?

By comparison, at Oregon State, Jonathan Smith assisted by Jim Michalczik, his highly regarded Offensive Line Coach and Run Game Coordinator, posted prodigious Rushing stats in 3 of the last 4 years, including 197 YPG, 2022…212 YPG, 2021…and 198 YPG, 2020. Overall, the Rush Offense of Smith and Michalczik posted a championship caliber average of 202 YPG or more than 100 yards per game more than Tucker.


At the bottom line:

The Jonathan Smith era at Michigan State is about to commence and we know this about Spring time, it is a time for renewal, rebirth, and hope.

I don’t know if Jonathan Smith will win a Big Ten Championship, or a National Championship, because in addition to the necessity to build a coherent plan including a championship caliber playbook, it also requires a championship caliber staff and championship caliber players, and meanwhile the “X” factor is a bit of good luck.

But luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity and Jonathan Smith has proven to be lucky as well as a winner at every stop.

One thing is certain, Jonathan Smith will lead Spartan Football with meticulous preparation, diligence, and dignity.

Good luck Jonathan Smith, make us proud.