STILLWATER — After a search that lasted nearly two months, Mike Gundy hired Mike Yurcich Thursday to be Oklahoma State's new offensive coordinator.
It's a virtually unknown name from a virtually unknown school — Division II's Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania.
Need a road map for direction on how Gundy closed in on Yurcich?
Start with the head coach's philosophy that keeping the Cowboys' Air Raid spread system is paramount.
That in itself eliminates several coordinators who have built their own success and reputation by running an offense their own way.
“You don't find a guy who's established that's going to come in and say, ‘I want to run your system. I'm not going to call my plays,'” Gundy said. “That's the hardest part (of the search).”
It certainly makes sense why Gundy continues to be so adamant about keeping this system in place, after the way the Cowboys have morphed into an offensive juggernaut the past three seasons.
First came the two magical years of Brandon Weeden, Justin Blackmon and Co., including a 2011 campaign that included a Big 12 Championship and a near-miss at playing for a national title. Then came the 2012 season, where OSU still ranked in the top 10 in the nation in scoring, passing and total offense despite a three-man quarterback carousel mostly caused by injuries.
The Cowboys have continued to roll so well on that side of the ball that Texas coach Mack Brown recently told the Austin American-Statesman that he, essentially, wants to start mimicking elements of OSU's fast-paced, no-huddle attack.
“I thought Todd Monken did as good a job staying physical and running no huddle as anybody,” Brown said. “We'll head in that direction.”
Monken was willing to ditch his ego when he was hired in 2011 and learn the system Dana Holgorsen had first installed. Weeden was a large part of the teaching process. And Monken developed his own wrinkles — Gundy estimates now that only about 40 percent of Holgorsen's exact plays remain — over his two seasons before being hired away for Southern Miss' head coaching gig.
Yurcich will have much of the same support and guidance. Quarterback Clint Chelf is entering his fourth year in this system, while J.W. Walsh will be in his third. And plenty of coaches like Joe Wickline, Kasey Dunn, Jemal Singleton and, of course, Gundy are well-versed in it. And, based on coach and player assessments, this version of the spread is actually quite simple to run.
Hiring a new offensive coordinator has become a somewhat frequent offseason task for Gundy. And where he's gone to find the next coach has varied.
But since the Air Raid arrived in Stillwater, he hasn't budged on his commitment to that system.
Now it's Yurcich's turn to run it.