STILLWATER — Edinboro coach Scott Browning always enjoys seeing his assistants move on to better opportunities than the one offered at his Division II school in Pennsylvania.
But he says Mike Yurcich's hiring as Oklahoma State's new offensive coordinator represents something bigger.
Mike Gundy selecting Yurcich, who most recently was the OC at Division II's Shippensburg University, to direct one of college football's most prolific offenses is a victory for all lower-division football coaches.
“I really applaud Coach Gundy. I really do,” Browning said. “I've been in this business over 30 years, and I've seen a lot of really fine football coaches, in my opinion, overlooked because they weren't Division I coaches.
“I think there are fine coaches out there at every level, whether it's Division II or Division III or the high school level. I think some guys, for whatever reason, don't get the opportunity maybe they deserve.
“I think Mike was very deserving, and I think that when it's all said and done, he'll make Coach Gundy look good in his decision.”
Trying to climb the college football coaching ladder is like any other profession. Take a certain job, and you can get pigeonholed. Typecast. Stuck. Enter at the ground floor to pay your dues, and it can be difficult to get out.
But occasionally, an employer sees something intriguing in an unexpected candidate, takes a chance and gives them their big break.
It happened with Chip Kelly, who Oregon hired away from mighty New Hampshire in 2007. Or Gus Malzahn and Chad Morris, who were both plucked from the high school ranks. And others — many of whom were detailed in last week's Insider — who had various levels of success and failure.
Gundy's unflappable commitment to the Air Raid spread offense essentially eliminated several established Division I coordinators for this hire, which allowed — or forced — him to search outside the box. And perhaps by bringing in an up-and-comer in Yurcich, Gundy won't be looking for another new coordinator in one or two years.
According to Browning, though, Yurcich deserved this job because he is, simply, a stout football coach.
Yurcich was on Edinboro's staff for six seasons, one as the quarterbacks/receivers coach and five as the offensive coordinator. That first season, Browning himself was the offensive coordinator, and staff meetings for that side of the ball often included just him and Yurcich. So Browning easily felt Yurcich's energy and saw his desire to keep learning through film study and phone conversations to discuss schemes. During practice, Browning said Yurcich was detail-oriented when teaching proper technique.
The result? Yurcich's offense averaged at least 30 points per game from 2007-09, and Trevor Harris became a Division II All-American.
Yurcich found even more success at Shippensburg, calling plays for a unit that led Division II in total offense and ranked second in passing and scoring offense in 2012. Additionally, quarterback Zach Zulli won Division II's equivalent of the Heisman Trophy.
Which means Browning is confident Yurcich is ready for this giant leap in his career and will thrive at OSU. And he's thankful Gundy is allowing Yurcich to become the next example of a lower-division coach getting a chance to climb the ladder.
“For someone like Coach Gundy to step up and make it happen for someone, I think it says a lot about him,” Browning said.