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Kirk Ciarrocca out as OC, replaced by Mike Yurcich

Photo by Penn State Athletics: Kirk Ciarrocca

In a stunning announcement made this morning by Penn State coach James Franklin, offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca is out after only one season and is being replaced by Mike Yurcich, who just finished his first season as offensive coordinator at Texas.

Yurcich was pasing game coordinator and QBs coach at Ohio State in 2019. From 2013-18, he was offensive coordinator and QBs coach at Oklahoma State.

Mike Yurcich

He has been an offensive coordinator for 15 of his 22 years as a college assistant coach. This is Yurcich’s extensive bio page from Texas.

This is from PSU’s press release:

“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.

“We are excited to have Mike join our staff,” continued Franklin. “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.”

GIGER COLUMN: Yurcich looks like a fantastic hire

This is what Yurcich said about his new job, from PSU’s release:

“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.”

Yurcich will be the fifth offensive coordinator Franklin has brought in at Penn State. The list:

**John Donovan (2014-15)

**Joe Moorhead (2016-17)

**Ricky Rahne (2018-19)

**Kirk Ciarrocca (2020)

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**Mike Yurcich (2020-)

Ciarrocca came to Penn State from Minnestoa with a lot of experience as an offensive coordinator. But the Lions struggled on offense this past season, in large part because of major depletion at the running back spot and turnover problems by quarterback Sean Clifford.

Ciarrocca was known as a fiery guy who demanded perfection from his players. Clifford and other offensive players said he was “gonna get on your ass” for making mistakes.

It’s unclear exactly why Franklin decided to make this change — if he was unhappy with Ciarrocca or just that he liked Yurcich better. Texas just fired coach Tom Herman and replaced him with Steve Sarkisian, so Yurcich suddenly found himself in a tough spot with a new coach coming in and likely needing to go elsewhere.

Yurcich played quarterback at California University of PA and earned a Master’s degree in education from St. Francis of Indiana, where he began his coaching career in 1999.

From PSU’s release:

Under Yurcich’s guidance, the Longhorns ranked eighth in FBS in scoring offense (42.7 ppg), 16th in passing efficiency (156.2) and 19th in total offense (475.4 ypg). Texas 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. The Longhorns had 17 different players catch at least one pass during the 2020 season and nine with at least 10 catches. UT had 12 different players record a touchdown catch.

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 was the Big Ten’s Offensive Player of the Year and earned second-team All-America honors from Walter Camp, Associated Press, American Football Coaches Association and Football Writers Association of America. Fields ranked third in FBS with 40 passing touchdowns with just three interceptions for the nation’s best touchdown-to-interception ratio. 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, OK 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).

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Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.

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