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Tom Izzo: New head football coach Jonathan Smith is an 'excellent addition'

November 27, 2023
Former Beavers football coach Jonathan Smith on the sidelines. Photo from Oregon State University Athletics.
Former Beavers football coach Jonathan Smith on the sidelines. Photo from Oregon State University Athletics. —

Michigan State head basketball coach Tom Izzo didn't waste any time commending MSU football's recent head coach hiring during his Monday press conference. 

Izzo, a known involver in the Spartans' football program, began his conference by welcoming Jonathan Smith to Michigan State. He said he had dinner with Smith and his wife on Sunday evening. 

"I think he's very excited to be here," Izzo said. "I think you'll enjoy him."

Izzo and Smith have similar upbringings on their road to being head coaches—both were former players and graduate assistants. For those reasons, Izzo said Smith is an "excellent addition."

As a member of the head coach search committee for MSU football, Izzo praised Athletic Director Alan Haller's decision to pursue Smith and said he's been impressed thus far after sitting down face-to-face with Smith for an hour and a half for dinner on Sunday. 

For 29 seasons as MSU's head basketball coach, Izzo has had to deal with competition with the University of Michigan in terms of recruiting. Smith had the same challenge at Oregon State. But Izzo said Smith brings "who we are" to the program with his track record of developing players over time. 

"(Oregon State had) kind of been the program that nobody respected as much with Oregon right down the road, and (Smith) figured out a way and how to handle that and deal with it," Izzo said. "His personality and everything is great."

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