CORVALLIS, Ore. – Bowl championship titles, NFL and major college coaching experience, and strong ties to Oregon State football’s recruiting bases highlight staff announcements by first-year head football coach Jonathan Smith Thursday, the college said.
Joining the program are coaches Jim Michalczik, Mike Riley, Brian Lindgren, Jake Cookus, and Mike McDonald (strength and conditioning). Dan Van De Riet also returns to Corvallis in an administrative role. The appointments are contingent on the completion of all university hiring processes.
The four on-the-field coaches have worked with teams that have a combined 29 bowl appearances and 370 victories at the FBS and FCS levels, and have 41 years of coaching experience within the Pac-12 Conference.
Michalczik returns to OSU as the run game coordinator and offensive line coach with the added title of associate head coach. He will be in his second stint with OSU also serving from 1999-2001 as the Beavers’ special teams, offensive line and tight ends coach. Michalczik has spent the last five years at Arizona as the assistant head coach and offensive line coach. With the assistance of Michalczik, the Wildcats have been one of the most prolific offensive teams in the nation this season, leading the Pac-12 for scoring offense (41.8 points), total offense (494.5 yards per game) and rushing offense (324.4.) – ranking sixth, 12th and third in the nation, respectively, to date. The Port Angeles, Wash., native has been a part of teams that have played in 14 bowl games during his career that began in 1990 at Miami. In addition, he coached offensive lines that led the way for Ken Simonton (OSU, 1998-2001) and Ka’Deem Carey (Arizona, 2011-13) to rank third and seventh, respectively, in the Pac-12 for career rushing yards.
“Jim is one of the finest offensive tacticians in the game who has experienced high levels of success at the college and professional levels, including Oregon State,” Smith said. “His knowledge of this conference and his strong ties to this region make him an outstanding addition to our staff.”
Riley, who will serve as the assistant head coach with an as-to-be determined position assignment, has won numerous national honors including the then Pac-10 Coach of the Year. He returns to OSU for the third time as the school’s all-time winningest head coach with 93 victories in stints from 1997-98 and 2003-14. The former head coach at Nebraska and in the professional ranks with the NFL’s then San Diego Chargers, the Canadian Football League’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the World League’s San Antonio Riders, has led OSU to eight bowl games. He has coached three of the Beavers’ national award recipients (Mike Hass, Brandin Cooks, Alexis Serna).
“Current and former players thriving in the NFL and in life are proof of Coach Riley’s tremendous ability to recruit outstanding young men,” Smith said. “He understands what it takes to win in this conference, and how to evaluate and develop student-athletes. There is no one better to have represent OSU in the homes of recruits as we build this program.”
Lindgren joins the Beavers’ staff as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He spent the last five seasons at Colorado as the offensive coordinator for the 2013-15 seasons and co-offensive coordinator for the last two years. The former standout college and high school quarterback helped Buffs’ signal-caller Sefo Liufau set 99 school records. Lindgren was part of the staff that rebuilt Colorado into the 2016 Pac-12 Conference’s South Division title team, making an appearance in the league’s championship game. Prior to Lindgren’s arrival at CU, the program ranked last in the Pac-12 for scoring offense and 11th for total offense two consecutive years.
“I’ve coached and recruited against Coach Lindgren for many years and I have the utmost respect for him as an evaluator of talent,” Smith said. “He has an impressive resume of developing quarterbacks in this conference. Overall, the staff and student-athletes will benefit immediately from his experiences at rebuilding programs at San Jose State and Colorado into conference contenders and champions.”
Cookus has served as the special teams quality control coach the last two years and has been promoted to special teams coordinator. The former Beaver safety has 15 years of experience in the coaching ranks that includes OSU, Hawai’i, Montana, Weber State, Kentucky and Southern Oregon. He has nearly 20 years of special teams experience as a player and coach, in addition to being a defensive coordinator for seven seasons. The Roseburg, Ore., native was a standout safety for the Beavers from 1998-2001, earning Pac-10 Honorable Mention as a senior.
“Coach Cookus brings a similar background to the program that I have; he knows what it takes to be successful here as a student-athlete and coach, which makes him invaluable in selling Oregon State University,” Smith said. “His commitment to detail, which is an especially valuable trait for a special teams coach, and knowledge of the high school programs in the region make him a tremendous asset in recruiting.”
McDonald joins the Beavers’ staff as the head football strength and conditioning coach after arriving at Washington with Huskies’ head coach Chris Petersen prior to the 2014 season. McDonald helped Washington to the 2016 College Football Playoff and an appearance in this month’s Fiesta Bowl. He is certified by several professional organizations, including the National Strength and Conditioning Association and the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association. The former Purdue football student-athlete also has been on the strength and conditioning staffs at Washington State and Boise State.
“Coach McDonald is a key figure in the success that Washington is having now on the field and he will have an immediate influence on the student-athletes in our program,” Smith said. “Our future success starts with Coach McDonald in our Sports Performance Center and I have confidence that Beaver Nation will see a noticeably stronger team on the field this season.”
Van De Riet returns to the program as the chief of staff and director of football operations. He spent seven years as the director of football operations for the Beavers after serving as an assistant the previous seven. He spent the last three years as Nebraska’s director of football operations.
“There is not a better operations person in the country,” Smith said. “His commitment to details working behind the scenes allows for our coaching staff and student-athletes to have seamless interaction daily whether that is in the Valley Football Center or on the road.”