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Penn State hires Mike Yurcich as its new offensive coordinator

The Nittany Lions are moving on from Kirk Ciarrocca after just one season. Yurcich is a former coordinator at Oklahoma State and at Texas.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Penn State football coach James Franklin announced Friday that the Nittany Lions are moving on from offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca after just one season and have hired former Texas assistant Mike Yurcich to run the offense.

Yurcich will also be the Nittany Lions' quarterbacks coach, Franklin said.

"First, I would like to thank Kirk for his contributions to our program last year," said Franklin. "This was a difficult decision, but felt it was best for our program to make a change. We wish him and his family all the best in their future endeavors."

Yurcich has 22 years of coaching experience, including 15 as an offensive coordinator. He began his coaching career in the PSAC, with stints at Edinboro University and Shippensburg University.

"We are excited to have Mike join our staff," Franklin said. "He is an impressive offensive mind and talented play caller who has set records everywhere he has been as an offensive coordinator. I look forward to seeing what he can do with all of the offensive weapons we have here at Penn State.

"I have followed Mike's career for a long time, dating back to his time in the PSAC at Shippensburg and Edinboro. We look forward to bringing Mike and his family back to Pennsylvania."

Kiarrocca joined Penn State prior to the season after three years of running the offense at the University of Minnesota. In his one season in charge of the offense, Penn State averaged 29.8 points and 430 yards per game, but struggled at times early in the season. The Lions lost five straight games before winning their final four outings.

His replacement has a history of success at the FBS level. In his career as an FBS offensive coordinator, Yurcich's offenses have averaged 6.49 yards per play -- which ranks first among offensive coordinators since 2013 -- and 14.03 yards per completion, which is first among Power Five OC's in that timeframe. 

Since 2013, Yurcich's offenses have scored 50 or more points 26 times and 40 or more points 51 times, both of which are tops among FBS offensive coordinators since 2013. His teams average 61.5 touchdowns per year.

"I'd like to thank Head Coach James Franklin, Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Sandy Barbour and President Eric Barron for the opportunity to be the offensive coordinator at Penn State University," said Yurcich. "Having spent 11 years in the state of Pennsylvania as a player and coach, I understand the significance of this duty and will represent properly and with humble pride."

Under Yurcich's guidance, Texas ranked eighth in FBS in scoring offense (42.7 ppg), 16th in passing efficiency (156.2) and 19th in total offense (475.4 ypg). The Longhorns also finished in the top 40 in the country in passing offense (27th; 280.1 ypg) and rushing offense (37th; 195.3 ypg). The 42.7 points per game ranks second in Texas history.

Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger completed 60.1 percent of his passes with a Big 12-leading 25 touchdowns. He also rushed for eight scores on the way to earning second-team All-Big 12 and Big 12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors. Freshman running back Bijan Robinson averaged 8.2 yards per attempt to rank first in the country among rushers with more than 80 attempts.

Prior to his time in Austin, Yurcich served as the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Ohio State in 2019. In that season, the Buckeyes posted a 13-1 record and earned a trip to the College Football Playoff, while quarterback Justin Fields was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, Walter Camp Player of the Year Award and Davey O'Brien Award. Fields finished with 51 total touchdowns, 3,273 passing yards, 306 points responsible for and a 181.4 passing efficiency rating.

Yurcich was the architect of one of Oklahoma State's greatest offensive eras as the program averaged 38.0 points and 478.3 yards per game in his six-year stint as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2013-18. OSU scored 40 or more points 35 times and 50 or more points 15 times under Yurcich. 

In Yurcich's six years, Oklahoma State ranked fifth nationally in passing yards per game (315.9 ypg), seventh in total offense (478.6 ypg) and sixth in scoring. During his tenure in Stillwater, the Cowboys were 52-34 with four 10-win seasons, four bowl victories and two New Year's Six appearances (2016 Sugar Bowl and 2014 Cotton Bowl).

Yurcich served as the offensive coordinator for two seasons (2011-12) at Shippensburg. In his first season, the Raiders set numerous program records, including points scored, touchdowns and total offense. In 2012, Shippensburg led NCAA Division II in total offense (529.2 ypg) and was second in scoring offense (46.9 ppg) and passing yards per game (387.7 ypg).

The native of Euclid, Ohio also coached for six seasons at Edinboro University, working with the quarterbacks and wide receivers in 2005 before becoming the offensive coordinator from 2006-10. Yurcich also coached at Saint Francis (Ind.) from 1999-2002 and was an offensive graduate assistant at Indiana University in 2003 and 2004.

A 1999 graduate of California University (Pa.), Yurcich earned his bachelor's in psychology. He also received his master's degree in school counseling from Indiana University in 2004. 

Yurcich and his wife Julie, have two sons, Jack and Clay, and one daughter, Maria. Julie was an All-American cross country runner at Edinboro.