Mike Yurcich is used to taking job promotions to significantly larger football programs. He’s done it before.
When Ohio State’s newly hired passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach served as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Shippensburg University, a Division II team, Mike Gundy found him on the internet and target him as Oklahoma State's offensive coordinator. No, really.
|Saint Francis (Ind.)
|Saint Francis (Ind.)
|Saint Francis (Ind.)
|Passing Game Coordinator/QBs
Gundy searched online in 2012 for less-heralded offensive coordinators with “no-huddle, tempo-based” offenses and stumbled upon Yurcich, who was in charge of Shippensburg’s offense, according to a story written by ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg last fall. Yurcich was making just $52,500 per year when Gundy offered him $400,000 to lead the Cowboys offense.
After losing multiple offensive coordinators after just a couple years, Gundy wanted to hire someone who could stick at Oklahoma State longer than others. So, he hired Yurcich. In recent years, though, Gundy realized he might not be able to hang on to Yurcich for too many more years.
"I don't know that I'll be able to hide him much longer,” Gundy told Sports on Earth in 2017. “He’s pretty dang good at what he does.”
"Mike's going to be a head coach," Gundy told ESPN last summer. "It's just a matter of time.”
He hasn’t become a head coach quite yet, but after spending six seasons at Oklahoma State, Yurcich finally made the next step, joining Ryan Day’s inaugural staff.
On The Field
Yurcich is decidedly a Day hire, and given his $950,000 annual salary, Yurcich was a high priority.
He fits with the direction that Day took Ohio State’s offense in the past two years, especially this season, which featured one of the most explosive passing offenses in the country, the likes of which Urban Meyer had never coached before. Dwayne Haskins, in all likelihood, will be gone. But with Day taking over for Meyer, with or without Haskins, the offense will trend toward what it looked like this season. Yurcich only further solidifies that.
Tasked with pairing with Day to lead the passing attack, Yurcich commanded an Oklahoma State offense that steadily increased in productivity during his six years as offensive coordinator.
After ranking 36th in S&P+ in 2013, then 78th in 2014, Oklahoma State’s offense climbed to 19th in 2015, then ranked in the top 10 each of the past three years. It peaked at No. 3 in 2017 with Mason Rudolph at quarterback. Yurcich helped develop Rudolph into a Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award winner who was chosen in this third round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Yurcich’s offense has ranked in the top-21 in the nation in yards per passing attempt in each of the past four seasons. He moves the ball downfield through the passing game. Oklahoma State finished in the top 16 in most passes for 30 yards or more in every year as offensive coordinator.
Though the Cowboys have used a nearly 50-50 run-pass split the past few years, the run game hasn't been as potent as the pass under Yurcich with Oklahoma State' rushing yards per attempt ranking between 40 and 60 each of the past three seasons. Of course, he'll be heading up the passing game with Day, so that won't be his primary concern.
On The Staff
Yurcich got his break from a Big 12 team, but he’s not a coach with a Big 12 background. Rather, he was born and bred in the midwest.
In the press release that announced Ohio State’s hiring of Yurcich, don’t overlook the first that Day mentioned his Ohio roots before anything else.
“I am really excited to announce that Mike is joining the Ohio State staff,” Day said in a press release. “Mike is not only an Ohioan coming home, but he is also an extremely talented coach who has enjoyed success throughout his career. His Oklahoma State offenses have been among the most proficient in college football and I look forward to welcoming and introducing Mike and his family to our staff, players and community.”
Day refers to Yurcich, who was born in Euclid, Ohio, and began his college football career at Mount Union, as an Ohioan. He needs Ohio coaches. It’s extremely important to a head coach who wasn’t born or raised in Ohio, like so many past Ohio State coaches, including Urban Meyer. He must win the state in recruiting and continue to emphasize the importance of the Michigan game with the help of those who grew up in the state.
Beyond growing up in the state in which he now coaches, Yurcich has experience coaching in other states in this region. He coached in Indiana and Pennsylvania before heading to Oklahoma State. He didn't recruit at the Division I level in either state, but his experience there should make the transition back to the midwest seem natural.
Prior to the hire or Yurcich, Ohio State did not have anyone whose title was "passing game coordinator." That could've effectively been the title of Day, but both he and Kevin Wilson were named offensive coordinators. Considering Yurcich's title, it would make sense to have a running game coordinator, and with Wilson on the staff already, he's a logical fit. However, he was hired by Meyer and is two years removed from being a head coach, so there's a chance he checks out his options elsewhere. That should be sorted out soon.
Given that Yurcich is replacing Day as quarterbacks coach and will head the passing attack alongside him, one of the biggest questions of the hire is how the coaching staff will interact and call plays. Day might not want to give that up the play calling responsibility initially. He hasn't given a definitive answer yet about whether or not he will call plays. Day's involvement in play calling could – and, in all likelihood, will – evolve over time since he has never been a head coach.