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Oklahoma State football: Question Mike Yurcich at your own risk

COMMENTARY — OSU's new offensive coordinator arrives from Shippensburg (Pa.), where his teams piled up the points, even if they were playing Division II football.
by Berry Tramel Published: February 7, 2013

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.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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