Ohio State Interest has “Sped Things Up” with Vols and Yurcich

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    (Photo via Matt Barnard/Tulsa World)

    It’s been reported that Tennessee has officially extended an offer to Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich to be the Vols’ next offensive coordinator. That offer has reportedly been made now because of the interest Ohio State is showing Yurcich according to a source within the Oklahoma State football program.

    According to an unnamed source in an interview with Vols Wire, Tennessee has started to quicken their pursuit of Yurcich — an Ohio native — because Ohio State has expressed interest in him for their vacant OC position as well.

    “It’s possible that he (Yurcich) stays,” the source told Vols Wire. “The thing that has sped things up on Tennessee’s end is Yurcich being from Ohio. He has been in connection with the Ohio State offensive coordinator job.

    “Money is not necessarily a big motivating factor, but he feels kind of that he needs to prove himself a little more and maybe do it outside the Big 12. He wants to be a head coach in the MAC and wants that to be ideally the next step.”

    The earlier report stating that UT had officially offered Yurcich also claimed that the offer came with a “substantial bump” in pay for him. Currently, Yurcich is making $800,000 annually at Oklahoma State as their offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Tennessee paid Tyson Helton just over $1.2 million last year to be their offensive coordinator before he left UT to take the head coaching position at Western Kentucky.

    Yurcich, who hails from Euclid, Ohio, is a graduate of the California University of Pennsylvania and has coached in both Pennsylvania and Indiana before joining Oklahoma State’s staff. The Cowboys’ head coach, Mike Gundy, tabbed Yurcich to be his offensive coordinator in 2013 while Yurcich was calling plays for Shippensburg in the Division II ranks of college football. He’s been Oklahoma State’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach since then.

    But Tennessee and Ohio State aren’t the first schools to show interest in prying away Yurcich from the Cowboys.

    Last year, Yurcich turned down advances from Auburn and Alabama to join their staffs. According to the unnamed Oklahoma State source, the reason he didn’t join those schools was because they wouldn’t let him run his style of offense there.

    Now, though, Yurcich may want to prove his worth at a different school in a perceived “tougher” conference like the SEC or Big Ten.

    “He has been out for a couple of jobs and things just have not worked out,” the source stated to Vols Wire. “Money is certainly part of it, but a feeling also to go prove himself somewhere where they do not just say how bad the defenses are.”

    The Big 12 has a reputation for being an offense-first conference with poor overall defensive play. That perception is supported when you look at defensive stats and realize the only Big 12 team in the top-40 of college football in scoring defense in 2018 was Iowa State, and they ranked 38th (22.9 points allowed per game).

    Yurcich’s offenses have put up a lot of points and yards during his tenure with the Cowboys, and he’s helped them achieve a lot of success as a team.

    Oklahoma State has ranked inside the top 25 in the FBS in total offensive yards per game every year since 2015, and that includes finishing with the No. 2 total offense in the country in 2017.

    This past season, Oklahoma State’s offense ranked 14th in the country in points per game (38.4 points) and 10th in total yards per game (500 yards). And that’s before the Cowboys take on Missouri in the Liberty Bowl on Monday.

    When Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer announced he was retiring from football, the Buckeyes promoted co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day to head coach on December 4th. Rather than promote Kevin Wilson, the other co-offensive coordinator and also OSU’s tight ends coach, Day has set about to look for a replacement for his former position on staff.

    Yurcich has emerged as one of the leading candidates for Ohio State’s position, but Tennessee has had him in their sights for about four weeks. It’s not likely any new news will come out regarding Yurcich until after Oklahoma State takes on Missouri in the Liberty Bowl on Monday, December 31st.

    We will update as any new information becomes available.

    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.