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Father vs Son: Payton Thorne to square off against dear ol' dad in Spartans' season-opener

Michigan State football's 2022 season-opener just got a whole lot more interesting

It will be something of a family reunion when Michigan State hosts Western Michigan to begin the 2022 college football season.

On Wednesday, reports began to surface that Broncos head coach Tim Lester was set to hire Jeff Thorne, the father of Michigan State starting quarterback Payton Thorne, as Western Michigan's new offensive coordinator.

Football is rooted within the Thorne family. Payton's grandfather, John, was  the head coach at North Central College, an NCAA Division III program, from 2002 to 2014, and Jeff served as the program's offensive coordinator. During John's tenure, the Cardinal's won or shared eight conference championships.

John Thorne stepped down as head coach but remained on staff following the 2014 season. Jeff took over as head coach in 2015, and led North Central to a national championship in 2019. The Cardinals finished as the national runner-up in 2021, and have won or shared four additional conference championships under Jeff Thorne.

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North Central football has easily experienced the most success in its history under the leadership of John and Jeff Thorne.

Western Michigan has several ties to the Thorne family. Lester, the Broncos' head coach, is a native of Wheaton, Ill. — same as the Thorne's. Lester played football for John and is a close friend of Jeff's. Following his junior year of high school, Payton committed to Lester and Western Michigan, and was expected to join former high school teammate Jayden Reed, who was a Bronco freshman.

However, after receiving a scholarship offer from Michigan State, Payton flipped his commitment to the Spartans, and Reed wound up transferring to East Lansing as well. The quarterback and wide receiver formed a deadly combination during Michigan State's 11-2 season in 2021.

But now, with Jeff Thorne being hired by Lester as Western Michigan's new offensive coordinator, and Payton Thorne set to begin his second season as Michigan State's starting quarterback, father and son will be on opposing sidelines when the Spartans and Broncos square off in the 2022 season opener on Sept. 3 in Spartan Stadium.