CORVALLIS — Jonathan Smith stood behind the lectern and surveyed the crowd gathered in the Valley Football Center's auditorium.
Smith paused for a moment.
"Well, it is great to be home," Smith said.
Smith, who quarterbacked Oregon State's football team from 1998 to 2001 before moving on to coaching, was introduced as the program's new coach on Thursday. Smith spoke to the team at 10 a.m., an hour before the press conference.
He was signed to a five-year contract with possibilities for rollovers if the Beavers become eligible to play in a postseason bowl game. His salary was not immediately available on Thursday.
Smith came to Corvallis as a walk-on quarterback from Glendora, Calif. and left a legend among OSU fans after leading the Beavers to their first winning season in 29 years and an appearance in the Oahu Bowl in 1999 and then to an 11-1 record in 2000, a co-Pac-10 title and a 41-9 dismantling of Notre Dame in the 2001 Fiesta Bowl.
Smith played for Mike Riley and Dennis Erickson while at OSU and credits both coaches for being crucial to his development.
Smith said he received an outpouring of calls and texts from former teammates and players and OSU fans.
He said it was a reminder of his time at OSU and why he pursued a coaching career.
"Some of the relationships that I had built through playing football at a university like this is really why I wanted to do that," Smith said.
"And now I'm sitting here in front of you guys at my dream job, in my dream town and my dream school."
Smith spent the past four seasons as Washington's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under that team's head coach, Chris Petersen.
Smith coached quarterbacks at Boise State from 2012-13 before moving on to Washington with Petersen.
Smith was the University of Montana's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2010-11 and coached quarterbacks at Idaho from 2004 to 09.
Putting together a strong staff will be one of the keys to Smith's success at OSU.
OSU director of athletics Scott Barnes said money will be available to spend on some quality coaches.
"We are going to make a mighty investment in increasing the salaries of the assistant coaches," Barnes said. "And one that enables Jonathan to get exactly what he wants."
Still, Smith will have to overcome some major hurdles.
The Beavers are coming off an extremely rough season on and off the field. Coach Gary Andersen unexpectedly resigned halfway through the season, and the team stumbled to a 1-11 record.
Smith said the circumstances of last season are very tough and unique.
Nevetheless, Smith likes some of what he has seen of the team and said the Beavers are closer than it might seem to getting over the hump.
"You go through something as dramatic as what these kids did, it doesn't surprise me to have some ups and downs," Smith said. "We need to bring in some stability, and I bring that, and with that stability I believe we can continue to progress."
OSU is not considered to be an attractive location for top recruits, and success has been scarce since the Beavers went 7-6 with a win in the Hawaii Bowl in 2013.
"I know how to sell this place in regards to recruiting," Smith said. "I'm very confident that when I go sit in a room with a mom or a prospective student-athlete, I can genuinely tell them what it is like and how it looks to get it done, because I've done it and it can be done again."
As both a player and a coach, Smith has been a part of teams that have won conference titles.
"I've lived it, I've coached it and now we need to go get it done."