Mario Cristobal isn’t an option, but could USC pry Jonathan Smith away from Oregon State?

Mario Cristobal isn’t an option, but could USC pry Jonathan Smith away from Oregon State?

The USC Trojans are 1-1 in what will likely be the short lived “Donte Williams” era, defeating the disaster that is Washington State in Week 2 before getting the doors blown off by Oregon State last Saturday.

Clay Helton’s departure is only the beginning of what may end up being a multi-year healing process for the Trojans, especially after recent reports show things were even worse than many imagined under Helton.

In almost any other time period, considering a coach with a 12-23 career record as a viable candidate to take over the hallowed position at USC would be laugh worthy.

But considering the depths of mediocrity currently enveloping this team, and the many top-tier candidates who are expected to pass up the position (if they have not already) it is fair to wonder if Jonathan Smith – the Oregon State coach who led the Beavers to a 45-27 win on Saturday – is a real candidate for this job.

Smith, who played quarterback during Oregon State’s prolific run from 1998-2001, has the Beavers out to a crisp 3-1 start on the year – with a few miscues against Purdue all that is keeping them from being undefeated.

He is doing this without a crop of four and five star rated recruits, using savvy skills developed as a long time quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator.

Smith has been working with college offenses ever since hanging up his spikes in 2001 – first as a graduate assistant at OSU, followed by a six year run as the QB coach at Idaho, two years at Montana as the offensive coordinator, and then a long run working alongside Chris Peterson at Boise State (2012-2013) and Washington (2014-2017).

His 12-23 record at Oregon State is ugly, but that came with a 2-10 season in his first year. Since then he is a far more respectable 10-13, and he has this current squad far exceeding expectations in the early going.

USC is no doubt holding out hope for Luke Fickell, or James Franklin, or Matt Campbell, or even P.J Fleck, but Smith may not be a bad option for the Trojans to consider – provided he is willing to leave his alma mater at the end of the year, which is no guarantee.

After all, Oregon State may well finish the season with a better record.

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Mario Cristobal isn’t an option, but could USC pry Jonathan Smith away from Oregon State?