STILLWATER — Mike Yurcich's jump from Division II's Shippensburg University to Oklahoma State is a big one for the new Cowboy offensive coordinator.
But there are others who have made similar leaps. Some have been huge successes. Some have not.
Here's a look at some other coaches who could have been regarded as unorthodox hires when first announced by a major college football program:
This was the most common comparison made when Yurcich’s hiring was announced last week. Kelly was hired away from New Hampshire when Oregon needed a new offensive coordinator in 2007. Two years later, he became the Ducks’ head coach and elevated that program to elite status, largely because of its up-tempo spread offense. After taking Oregon to four BCS Bowl games, the Philadelphia Eagles hired Kelly as its head coach last month.
Kelly spent 17 seasons at Division II’s Grand Valley State as an assistant and head coach before Central Michigan gave him a chance to jump to the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision level. After three-year stints there and at Cincinnati, Kelly holds one of college football’s most prestigious jobs at Notre Dame, taking the Fighting Irish to the BCS national championship game this past season.
Malzahn’s jump was even bigger than Yurcich’s, as he was hired to be Arkansas’ offensive coordinator after 15 years as a high-school coach in the state. Following assistant jobs at Tulsa and Auburn and one season as the head coach at Arkansas State, Malzahn is back at Auburn as the head coach.
Morris, like Malzahn, was hired from the high school ranks to be an FBS offensive coordinator. Morris went from Lake Travis High School in Texas to Tulsa, then to Clemson to be the Tigers’ offensive coordinator.
Hard to believe that the coach who took the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl in his second season was regarded as a risky choice when Stanford plucked him from a Football Championship Subdivision school in San Diego to be its next head coach in 2007. After helping elevate the Cardinal into a national power, Harbaugh moved on to the NFL.
Here’s a local example. Following an extremely successful career coaching Oklahoma high school football, including 14 seasons and three state titles at powerhouse Tulsa Union, Blankenship ended up back at his alma mater as an assistant coach. After four years, he was promoted to head coach in 2011. The Golden Hurricane won the Conference USA title and the Liberty Bowl this past season.
Freeze first made the big jump from Briarcrest High School in Tennessee to an administrative spot in Mississippi’s football office to an assistant coach. Then after holding the head coaching job at Lambuth, an NAIA school in Tennessee, for two seasons, Arkansas State hired Freeze as its offensive coordinator. A year later, he was the head coach. A year after that, he was back at Ole Miss as the head coach.
After a brilliant career coaching Texas high school football, North Texas hired Dodge to be its head coach in 2006. It did not go well. He was fired in October 2010 after going 6-37 in his three-plus seasons. Following one season as Pittsburgh’s quarterbacks coach, Dodge went back to coaching Texas high school football.
Another local example. After a two-year stint with Division II’s East Central University in Ada, McCarty was hired to be the assistant head coach/offensive line coach on Ron Prince’s staff at Kansas State. After Prince was fired, McCarty returned to East Central.