By Kevin Hampton
One of the biggest names in Oregon State’s recent football history will be on the sidelines for the Hawaii Bowl.
But he will not be wearing OSU colors for this game.
Former Beavers quarterback Jonathan Smith is Boise State’s quarterbacks coach.
“It will be cool to see some familiar faces before the game,” Smith said.
Smith said he is looking forward to meeting OSU in the Christmas Eve bowl.
“I think it’s good. Our players wanted to play the best team that they could and I think Oregon State will be a good matchup,” Smith said.
In 1999, Smith quarterbacked the Beavers to the program’s first winning season in 29 years. He followed that up the next season by leading OSU to an 11-1 record and a win in the Fiesta Bowl.
He played under both Mike Riley and Dennis Erickson, which was beneficial for an athlete already focused on a career as a coach.
“I couldn’t see myself doing anything else and I kind of thought that way when I was playing at Oregon State,” Smith said.
He said his foundation in football was built under Riley.
Then Erickson came to OSU, and Smith took the opportunity to continue to grow his coaching knowledge.
To this day, Smith says he finds himself using terms or sayings that he picked up from Riley or Erickson.
“You try to take bits and pieces from lots of guys, but for me it was especially those two,” Smith said.
“So my background learning from those guys has helped me.”
After his playing career wound up in 2001, Smith spent two seasons as a graduate assistant for the Beavers and then went to Idaho as the quarterbacks coach, where he stayed for six years and worked under three head coaches.
“It was real experience and it was really good because I was really young, I was 23,” Smith said.
“You have to get your feet wet and learn and try different things. It was really beneficial to me.”
Smith went to Montana and spent two years as the offensive coordinator for the Grizzlies.
When the opportunity to work for Chris Petersen at Boise State came along, Smith jumped at it, even though it meant going back to quarterbacks coach.
“This was a chance to get to coach with Chris Petersen, so it was a no-brainer,” Smith said. “I had respected him for so long. It was a chance to work with him and develop under him.
“It was a pretty quick decision for me.”
Smith moved to Boise and coached Joe Southwick during the 2012 season. Southwick passed for 2,730 yards and 19 touchdowns with a completion percentage of .669.
Southwick had 1,654 yards with 12 scores this season before an injury forced him out. Grant Hedrick stepped in and has 1,443 yards passing with 15 touchdowns and is also the team’s second-leading rusher with 257 yards and six scores.
“They’re a bunch of fun to coach, those guys,” Smith said. “Those guys are awesome to work with.
“Anytime your team has success, you feel as a coach that you contributed. It feels good when your players have success.”
Smith said both players will be available for action in the bowl.
Working with Petersen has been an eye-opening experience.
“He’s so focused on the smaller things and thinking through everything,” Smith said. “He talks a lot about simplifying your teaching.”
It has been reported that Smith will join Peterson’s staff at the University of Washington, which hired Peterson as their new head coach earlier this month. Smith declined to comment on the record until after he has coached the Broncos in the bowl game.
He said his experience in Boise has been awesome.
“It’s a great place to be a football coach,” Smith said. “Everyone has bought in, from the coaches to the staff to the players.
“Learning from coach Pete, I’ve learned a lot about football and teaching. It’s been a great experience.”