OSU football remains on the Oregon Trail. Let us count the ways that the Cowboys mirror the Mighty Ducks of Eugene.
* Jump-started by a megabooster who provided necessary facilities.
* Winning big after decades of mediocrity.
* Funkadelic uniforms that are all the rage.
* Turning over a world-class offense to a no-name from a small-college outpost in the northeast corner of the country.
The latest repeat of Oregon's footsteps came Thursday, when Mike Gundy announced his new offensive coordinator.
Mike Yurcich of Shippensburg. Who and where?
Same questions asked in 2007, when Oregon coach Mike Bellotti named Chip Kelly of New Hampshire the Ducks' offensive coordinator.
So dismiss Yurcich's pedigree at your own risk. Sure, scoring 55 points on Slippery Rock is not the same as scoring 55 on West Virginia. But scoring 55 points with Shippensburg talent is not the same as scoring 55 points with OSU talent.
I can tell you this. While Shippensburg is sad to see Yurcich go, Shippensburg's foes are thrilled.
“Mike was definitely the tough one to defend,” said Bloomsburg defensive coordinator Paul Darragh. Bloomsburg was Shippensburg's chief rival in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference this season. Shippensburg beat Bloomsburg 49-42 in a late-season showdown, then swamped Bloomsburg 58-20 in the NCAA Division II playoffs.
“He took over at Shippensburg (before the 2011 season), they had a conventional offense,” Darragh said. “Kind of a Wing-T. He introduced the spread with the quarterback run game, up-tempo, no-huddle.”
Huh. Sounds familiar.
Other features of the Yurcich offense, courtesy of Darragh. Personnel groupings not easily defined, making it tough for defenses to match up. QB run game, via a draw, not so much the option. A run game effective because defenses have to be so tuned to the pass.
Division II football is the same as Big 12 football, except the latter is played by the bigger, the stronger and the faster. Between the ears, it's much the same.
“Chip Kelly's an example of that,” Darragh said. Kelly took over as Oregon's head coach in 2009 and in January was hired to coach the Philadelphia Eagles. From New Hampshire offensive coordinator to Philly head coach in six years.
“I coached against (Notre Dame's) Brian Kelly when he was at Grand Valley State,” Darragh said. “They cut their teeth here (in Division II) and move on.”
Truth is, all kinds of offensive ingenuity comes from the fringe of college football. Tim Layden's fabulous book, “Blood, Sweat & Chalk,” details the origins of some of football's groundbreaking strategies.
The Air Raid wasn't born at Kentucky or Texas Tech. Hal Mumme primed it at Iowa Wesleyan and Valdosta State.
The run-and-shoot came from Mouse Davis at Portland State, and Mouse says he got it from Tiger Ellison at Middletown (Ohio) High School.
Emory Bellard invented the wishbone at Texas in 1968. In 1966, Bellard was coaching San Angelo Central High School.
Don Coryell's Air Coryell offense got its start in 1961 at San Diego State, two seasons after Coryell was coaching at Whittier College.
Tubby Raymond unveiled the Wing-T at Delaware. The Power I came from Tom Nugent at VMI.
Good coaches, even great coaches, can be found at every level. Some get the chance to move up, some don't.
Some bright minds stay in places like Shippensburg, or Abilene, or Grand Valley, or Ada, their entire career, making $52,500, which is what Shippensburg paid Yurcich in 2012. His OSU predecessor, Todd Monken, made $600,000.
You want the biggest difference between Stillwater and Shippensburg? Start with the money, not the strategy.
I don't know if Yurcich will be as innovative or as successful as Monken. Maybe he will be more so.
But this I know. All great coaches come from somewhere. Shippensburg, like New Hampshire, is somewhere.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.