Oregon State Promotes Trent Bray To Replace Jonathan Smith As Beavers Head Coach

750 The Game Staff

Oregon State has decided to promote defensive coordinator Trent Bray to head coach in the wake of Jonathan Smith’s departure to Michigan State, per multiple reports.

Bray, 41, played linebacker at Oregon State from 2002-05 and has been the defensive coordinator since midway through the 2021 season.

A team meeting was reportedly scheduled for 6:00 p.m. Tuesday night presumably to introduce Bray as head coach.

Oregon State finished the regular season 8-4 after a pair of losses to Washington and Oregon to end the year. The morning after the Civil War defeat, Smith officially accepted the job at Michigan State and a coaching search ensued.

Our John Canzano reported seven candidates were interviewed Monday as part of the interview process and while Bray was thought to be the favorite in Canzano’s mind, other candidates included former Beavs assistant and San Jose State head coach Brent Brennan, Maryland offensive coordinator and former Broyles Award winner Josh Gattis, and former Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst, another former Beavers offensive coordinator from the late 90s.

The Beavers will learn their bowl game assignment on Sunday following the final College Football Playoff rankings are revealed at 9:00 a.m.

Reports also say Oregon State and Washington State are finalizing their scheduling partnership with the Mountain West Conference for 2024.

More from the OSU Athletics press release:

Trent Bray Named Oregon State Football Head Coach

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Trent Bray, one of the most notable defensive players in Oregon State history, has been tabbed as the Beavers’ next Head Coach, Vice President and Director of Athletics Scott Barnes announced on Tuesday.

“I’m excited to be able to announce Trent as our next head coach,” Barnes said. “After interviewing several qualified candidates, we realized our top choice, Trent, has already been a mainstay at the Valley Football Center and Reser Stadium. He’s been a part of Beaver Nation for a long time and love for this place is real. The connection and trust he has built with our student athletes is unmatched. His energy and determination as head coach will be a catalyst for continued program success.”

Bray’s elevation as Oregon State’s 32nd head coach comes after two-and-a-half seasons as the Beavers’ defensive coordinator, where he has turned the program’s defense into one of the top units in the nation. The 2024 season will mark his 10th as an Oregon State coach; he came to Corvallis for a three-year stint from 2012-14 before returning in 2018.

“I’d like to thank Scott Barnes and President Jayathi Murthy for this opportunity,” Bray said. “I’ve been a part of Oregon State for a long time, as a coach and a student-athlete, and know how special Beaver Nation is. I’m excited to lead an outstanding group of men our fans can be proud of.”

Bray’s appointment is contingent on the completion of all university hiring processes.

Bray, a 2022 Broyles Award nominee for the nation’s top assistant coach, is in his sixth season during his second stint with the Beavers. He came back to Oregon State in 2018 as the team’s linebackers coach and was promoted to defensive coordinator in November 2021. The OSU defense immediately became of the top units in the Pac-12 under his guidance. Oregon State gave up six fewer points per game in 2022 compared to 2021, while also allowing 55 fewer yards. The Beavers also posted a Pac-12-best 71 pass breakups. In addition, Oregon State led the conference in red zone defense, while allowing the fewest plays of 10 or more yards.

The Beavers’ 2023 defense has been stout, allowing 340 yards and 21.3 points per game, both of which rank among the Pac-12’s leaders. The Beavers have given up 104 yards per game on the ground, good for 15th nationally, and the team’s scoring defense is less than 3 points per game shy of the top-20. Oregon State is second in the Pac-12 in total sacks (36), third in tackles for loss (72) and interceptions (12) and fourth in fewest opponent plays of 10 or more yards.

Bray and the Beavers are set to appear in their third consecutive bowl game next month. The game will mark the 11th bowl all-time for Bray, who played in three as a player. It will be his eighth as a collegiate coach.

Bray has coached two All-Americans during his second OSU tenure – Avery Roberts in 2021 and Hamilcar Rashed Jr. in 2019. Rashed Jr. set the Oregon State single-season record with 14 sacks and 22.5 tackles for loss during his All-American season. Roberts, meanwhile, led the Pac-12 in tackles in back-to-back seasons (128 in 2021, 69 in 2020), ranking seventh nationally in 2021.

Jack Colletto, who was converted to linebacker after coming to OSU as a quarterback, was named the 2022 Hornung Award winner as the most versatile player in college football. Eight linebackers, meanwhile, have been named All-Pac-12 performers in his six seasons, while 15 total defensive players have earned conference recognition since Bray was named defensive coordinator.

The 2022 Broyles nomination was the second for Bray, a native of Pullman, Wash. He was nominated in 2016 during his second year at Nebraska as the team’s linebackers coach. Bray, while with the Cornhuskers, helped lead Nebraska to a No. 9 national mark allowing just 109 rush yards per game in 2015.

Bray’s first stint on the Oregon State coaching staff came from 2012-14. He opened his tenure as a graduate assistant and was moved to linebackers coach in 2013. He helped Oregon State to trips to the Alamo and Hawai’i Bowls, and was a part of a defensive staff that saw OSU ranked second in the conference for scoring defense and third for rush defense in 2012.

He opened his collegiate coaching career from 2009-11 at Arizona State. Bray was a graduate assistant with the Sun Devils in 2009 before leading the team’s linebackers in 2010 and 2011. ASU finished first in the conference in rushing defense in 2010 while placing third in third down and red zone defense. He coached former NFL eight-year veteran Vontaze Burfict during his tenure in Tempe.

Bray lettered for the Beavers from 2002-05, starting 34 consecutive games during his career. He ranks sixth for a career with 337 tackles, and was a 2005 Pac-12 First-Team selection. He totaled 122 tackles in 2004 and was named a second-team all-conference selection. He was also the 2004 Insight Bowl Most Valuable Player after recording 10 tackles.

Bray is a 2007 graduate of Oregon State, earning a degree in sociology.


Trent Bray Coaching History 

Nov. 2021-Present: Oregon State – Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers

2018-21: Oregon State – Linebackers

2015-17: Nebraska – Linebackers

2012-14: Oregon State – Graduate Assistant and Linebackers

2009-11: Arizona State – Graduate Assistant and Linebackers

. Listen to John Canzano deliver the Bald Faced Truth afternoons 3-6 p.m. for the latest on the Beavers path forward with Trent Bray as its new head coach, exclusively in Portland on 750 The Game.