MSU hires Colorado offensive coordinator Jay Johnson

The Michigan State Spartans and new head coach Mel Tucker have reportedly found their new offensive coordinator in Colorado’s Jay Johnson.

Michigan State University is yet to officially announce the hiring, so while The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman is reporting that Johnson will take over OC duties, it is possible Johnson may have another role on the staff.

First reported by the Brian Howell of, this is not a total surprise, as Tucker was expected to bring over several of his coaches from the Colorado staff.

Before serving as CU’s offensive coordinator in 2018, Johnson was with Tucker at Georgia in 2017 and 2018. He is entering his 25th year of coaching and has also spent time with Minnesota in 2016, University of Louisiana (formerly UL-Lafayette ) from 2011-2015, Central Michigan (2010), Louisville (2008-2009), Southern Mississippi (2003-2007), Kansas (1997-2001) and Missouri (1994), among others.

Johnson has held the offensive coordinator post for 10 total seasons with four FBS schools (Southern Miss, Louisiana, Minnesota and Colorado). He also was OC was Division III Augsburg College (Minneapolis, Minnesota) in 1994 and Division II Truman State ( Kirksville, Missouri). Additionally, Johnson has served as quarterbacks coach, running backs coach, tight ends coach and quality control coach throughout his college career.

As far as 2019 goes, it was a mixed bag, but it is is also important to remember that Tucker, Johnson and the rest of the staff took over a program and didn’t have many of their preferred recruits. Colorado was a decent team running the ball, averaging 150.3 yards per game, which ranked the Buffaloes fifth in the Pac-12 conference and was substantially better than MSU’s abysmal 127.2 rushing yards per contest. The passing game, however, was lackluster, as Colorado was ninth in the conference at just 238.2 yards per game. Michigan State ranked six spots ahead of Colorado in the national passing yards per game category at 244.8. Colorado averaged 388.5 total yards per game (ninth in Pac-12, 83rd nationally) and only 23.5 points per game (ninth Pac-12, 100th nationally) — only 1.1 more points per game than MSU (yikes).

Johnson played quarterback for Northern Iowa in the early ‘90s. He led the Panthers to a 31-8 record, three conference titles and three Division 1-AA playoff appearances on his way to multiple All-Gateway Conference honors (now the Missouri Valley Conference Football in the FCS).

MSU also officially announced the hiring of another Colorado staff member in offensive line coach Chris Kapilovic. If reports about Johnson are true, that brings Tucker’s staff up to four assistants as of press time, as Johnson and Kapilovic join Mike Tressel and Ron Burton, who are of course disciples of the Mark Dantonio tenure.

For all of the staff changes for Michigan State football, follow along with us here.

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Ryan O’Bleness


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