Penn State Football Head Coach James Franklin announced a coaching staff change Friday with the hiring of Mike Yurcich as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach and the departure of Kirk Ciarrocca.
“First, I would like to thank Kirk for his contributions to our program last year,” said Franklin. “This was a difficult decision, but felt it was best for our program to make a change. We wish him and his family all the best in their future endeavors.
“We are excited to have Mike join our staff,” continued Franklin. “He is an impressive offensive mind and talented play caller who has set records everywhere he has been as an offensive coordinator. I look forward to seeing what he can do with all of the offensive weapons we have here at Penn State. I have followed Mike’s career for a long time, dating back to his time in the PSAC at Shippensburg and Edinboro. We look forward to bringing Mike and his family back to Pennsylvania.”
“I’d like to thank Head Coach James Franklin, Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Sandy Barbour and President Eric Barron for the opportunity to be the offensive coordinator at Penn State University,” said Yurcich. “Having spent 11 years in the state of Pennsylvania as a player and coach, I understand the significance of this duty and will represent properly and with humble pride.”
Yurcich (YER-sitch), who has 22 years of collegiate coaching experience, including 15 as an offensive coordinator, joins the Nittany Lions after spending the 2020 season at Texas as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
In his career as an FBS offensive coordinator, Yurcich’s offenses have averaged 6.49 yards per play, which ranks first among OC’s since 2013 and 14.03 yards per completion, which is first among Power Five OC’s in that timeframe. Since 2013, Yurcich’s offenses have scored 50 or more points 26 times and 40 or more points 51 times (50 percent of games coached), both of which are tops among FBS offensive coordinators since 2013. His teams average 61.5 touchdowns per year.
Under Yurcich’s guidance, the Longhorns ranked eighth in FBS in scoring offense (42.7 ppg), 16th in passing efficiency (156.2) and 19th in total offense (475.4 ypg). Texas also finished in the top 40 in the country in passing offense (27th; 280.1 ypg) and rushing offense (37th; 195.3 ypg). The 42.7 points per game ranks second in Texas history. The Longhorns had 17 different players catch at least one pass during the 2020 season and nine with at least 10 catches. UT had 12 different players record a touchdown catch.
With Yurcich’s guidance, Longhorn quarterback Sam Ehlinger completed 60.1 percent (184-306) of his passes with a Big 12-leading 25 touchdowns. He also rushed for eight scores on the way to earning second-team All-Big 12 and Big 12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors. Freshman running back Bijan Robinson averaged 8.2 yards per attempt to rank first in the country among rushers with more than 80 attempts.
Prior to his time in Austin, Yurcich served as the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Ohio State in 2019. In that season, the Buckeyes posted a 13-1 record and earned a trip to the College Football Playoff, while quarterback Justin Fields was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, Walter Camp Player of the Year Award and Davey O’Brien Award. Fields was the Big Ten’s Offensive Player of the Year and earned second-team All-America honors from Walter Camp, Associated Press, American Football Coaches Association and Football Writers Association of America. Fields ranked third in FBS with 40 passing touchdowns with just three interceptions for the nation’s best touchdown-to-interception ratio. Fields finished with 51 total touchdowns, 3,273 passing yards, 306 points responsible for and a 181.4 passing efficiency rating.
Yurcich was the architect of one of Oklahoma State’s greatest offensive eras as the program averaged 38.0 points and 478.3 yards per game in his six-year stint as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2013-18. OSU scored 40 or more points 35 times and 50 or more points 15 times under Yurcich. In Yurcich’s six years, OK State ranked fifth nationally in passing yards per game (315.9 ypg), seventh in total offense (478.6 ypg) and sixth in scoring. During his tenure in Stillwater, the Cowboys were 52-34 with four 10-win seasons, four bowl victories and two New Year’s Six appearances (2016 Sugar Bowl and 2014 Cotton Bowl).
Oklahoma State finished 10th in FBS in total offense (500.2 ypg) and passing offense (309.8 ypg) in 2018. Yurcich developed walk-on quarterback Taylor Cornelius into a top-10 ranked player nationally in passing yards (4th; 3,978 yds), passing yards per game (6th; 306.0 ypg), passing touchdowns (8th; 32), total offense (6th; 337.3 ypg) and points responsible for (5th; 252).
The 2017 Oklahoma State offense featured 4,000-yard passer Mason Rudolph, two 1,000-yard receivers in James Washington and Marcell Ateman and 1,000-yard rusher Justice Hill. The Cowboys led the country in passing yards (389.2 ypg), finished second in total offense (568.9 ypg) and fourth in scoring offense (45.0 ppg). Washington won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s outstanding receiver and Rudolph claimed the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award as the college football’s best senior quarterback. Working in Yurcich’s offense his entire career, Washington finished as OK State’s all-time leading receiver with 4,472 yards, which was second in Big 12 history. In 2017, the Cowboys set eight single-season school records, including total offense, yards per play, passing yards, first downs and passing efficiency. The 2017 squad reached the 50-point mark six times and eclipsed 500 yards of offense nine times, including a school-record 747 yards against Baylor.
In 2016, Oklahoma State was one of two Power Five teams to produce a 4,000-yard passer (Rudolph), a 1,000-yard rusher (Hill) and a 1,000-yard receiver (Washington). The Cowboys ranked in the top 20 in the country in four categories. With a two-quarterback system in 2015, OK State threw for 34 touchdowns and ranked seventh in FBS in passing yards per game (353.2 ypg) and 14th in scoring offense (39.5 ppg). Yurcich produced the Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year in Tyreek Hill in 2014 and led Oklahoma State to a 14th-place finish in scoring offense (39.1) in his first season in 2013.
Yurcich served as the offensive coordinator for two seasons (2011-12) at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania. In his first season, the Raiders set numerous program records, including points scored, touchdowns and total offense. In 2012, Shippensburg led NCAA Division II in total offense (529.2 ypg) and was second in scoring offense (46.9 ppg) and passing yards per game (387.7 ypg). Under Yurcich’s tutelage, quarterback Zach Zulli won the 2012 Harlon Hill Trophy as the top player in Division II. Zulli tied the NCAA Division II record with 54 passing scores.
The native of Euclid, Ohio also coached for six seasons at Edinboro University, working with the quarterbacks and wide receivers in 2005 before becoming the offensive coordinator from 2006-10. Yurcich also coached at Saint Francis (Ind.) from 1999-2002 and was an offensive graduate assistant at Indiana University in 2003 and 2004.
A 1999 graduate of California University (Pa.), Yurcich earned his bachelor’s in psychology. He also received his master’s degree in school counseling from Indiana University in 2004. Yurcich and his wife Julie, have two sons, Jack and Clay, and one daughter, Maria. Julie was an All-American cross country runner at Edinboro.