MSU's Jonathan Smith's First Season Should Be Judged by More Than Wins and Losses

Considering all the Spartans have faced over the last 12 months, Michigan State and Coach Jonathan Smith's success should be graded on a different scale than any other college football team.
Michigan State's head coach Jonathan Smith looks on during the Spring Showcase on Saturday, April 20, 2024, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing.
Michigan State's head coach Jonathan Smith looks on during the Spring Showcase on Saturday, April 20, 2024, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing. / Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA

Michigan State football coach Jonathan Smith is just months away from the first game of his tenure in East Lansing. While the Spartans have many obstacles to overcome this season, it is worth noting that Coach Smith and the Spartans have seemingly overcome hurdles since he arrived on campus. 

The first hurdle was set even before Smith arrived. Smith and his coaching staff walked into what was undoubtedly a mess, which Michigan State’s previous coaching staff had left behind. This set Smith and his coaching staff behind from the very start. 

Not long after arriving on campus, Michigan State lost nearly 20 scholarship players to the transfer portal. Few college football programs nationwide lost that many players this offseason if any at all. What was supposed to be a tool for teams to get better instantly made the Spartans worse, leaving the roster shorthanded.

Luckily for Smith and the Spartans, Michigan State would turn its luck around in the portal, eventually signing one of the best portal classes in the country.

However, Michigan State's eventual success in the transfer portal made for a jampacked June for Smith and his coaching staff. The Spartans have played catch-up for most of the offseason and are now focusing on filling out their 2025 recruiting class. 

Michigan State has one of the worst 2025 recruiting classes in the Big Ten, which it hopes to change over the next few weeks. According to ESPN's Football Power Index, it also has one of the most challenging schedules in the nation. 

Michigan State has a four-game stretch this season that teams significantly better than them would struggle with. The Spartans are set to face Ohio State at home, Oregon on the road, Iowa at home and the defending national champions in Ann Arbor. It is undoubtedly a challenging slate of games for any team in the country, let alone one that is rebuilding. 

Smith and Michigan State have rebounded from a difficult start to the Smith era in East Lansing but still have another set of hurdles to clear on the football field this season. Considering all Michigan State’s football program has endured over the last 12 months, how much of a success Smith’s first season in East Lansing will be may not be fair to measure by solely wins and losses.

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Ezekiel Trezevant

EZEKIEL TREZEVANT

Ezekiel is a former Sports Editor from the Western Herald and former Atlanta Falcons beat writer.