Oklahoma State football: Mike Yurcich's move wasn't that far after all

COMMENTARY — Although OSU's new offensive coordinator came from Shippensburg, Pa., to Stillwater, he's feeling right at home in the Big 12.
by Berry Tramel Published: July 6, 2013
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photo - OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY / OSU / COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich talks with the media prior to an OSU spring football practice in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY / OSU / COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich talks with the media prior to an OSU spring football practice in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

* The facilities in general, which are elite even on the Big 12 scale, much less the Shippensburg scale. “Facility-wise, no matter where you come from, you come here, you're really wowed,” Yurcich said. “This place is very special from a facilities standpoint.”

* The recruiting budget. Back in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, Yurcich would drive a state car — “sometimes they have 2½ tires” — and often stay with friends or family when he recruited the Cleveland area. “You try to save money, help the university out,” Yurcich said.

* Even the culture is different, even though we've heard forever about Pennsylvania football.

“It's more in the community,” Yurcich said. “Football coaches love football. East Coast, West Coast, Oklahoma, Texas, football coaches love football, players love football, parents love football.”

But communities and school districts are different, he says. “When we go recruiting to some of the bigger programs,” Yurcich said. “Broken Arrow, Jenks, down in Texas. The facilities are phenomenal. It really is tremendous how important, not just football, but overall athletics is to this region of the country.

“I think people in this region understand what athletics brings other than just the exercise. It's the sportsmanship it teaches, the teamwork, the unselfishness. Those values are taught through athletics. And people in this region of the United States get that, I think more so than elsewhere where I have been. And it's great to be part of that. It's great to see. That's what I believe, too.”

The football is the easy part. The football is much the same. Sure, Yurcich's offense now will compete against better athletes. But it also will sport better athletes.

“Especially from a quarterback standpoint,” Yurcich said. “I mean, there's certain fundamentals you want to see a quarterback have. I don't care if they're a Division II guy or a Division I guy, being sound fundamentally. You could be talking to a pro guy or you could be talking to a high school kid, and there's a lot of overlap there. So not so much there. The big adjustment for me was having to learn the offense.”

And even that's more semantics than scheme. Yurcich has been running the same up-tempo offense that OSU installed three years ago. That's why Mike Gundy hired him.

“Coaching football really is coaching football,” Yurcich said. “It's about relationships and it's about people and working hard and staying true to your values and who you are.”

OSU, he said, has “been quite different in some aspects, but in reality, the content has been very similar.”

Friends and family back in Pennsylvania and Ohio are thrilled for Yurcich. He took a load of OSU hats on his first trip back home. More than 100 Yurcich supporters are planning to make the trip to Morgantown, W.Va., for the Sept. 28 OSU-West Virginia game.

“When Mike first told me about the offer, I was on Cloud 9 for him,” said Yurcich's father, Chuck, an engineer who raised his family in the Cleveland suburb of Euclid, Ohio. “I'm still excited.

“I don't know if it's a game-changer for him. In some ways it is. The money is a huge upgrade.

“It's still football. How he uses his time, how he thinks, I don't think that's going to change.”

Much has changed for Mike Yurcich. But much has stayed the same.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. 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.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
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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Mike Yurcich: First of a two-part series

Sunday: The big change from Shippensburg to OSU.

Monday: Mike Gundy was not the first coach of a major program to hand his offense over to a coordinator from a lower level.

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