Ohio State Buckeyes passing game coordinator Mike Yurcich answers a question during a February Signing Day press conference on Wednesday, February 6, 2019 at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in Columbus, Ohio. [Joshua A. Bickel/Columbus Dispatch]

Football

Texas officials mum, but Ohio State’s Mike Yurcich likely to be new offensive coordinator

At Alamo Bowl press conference, Herman talked about the coordinator search in the past tense, indicating it’s done

Posted December 27th, 2019

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If all goes according to plan, Tuesday’s Alamo Bowl is the last time Tom Herman ever calls plays at Texas.

“You never want to say never, but I hope so,” the Longhorns head coach said Friday.

Speaking to reporters in San Antonio, Herman did not give specifics about his offensive coordinator search. But all signs indicate Ohio State co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Yurcich will get that position soon.

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Stadium reported Thursday that Yurcich, the most discussed candidate publicly, was expected to be named to the position next week. Texas officials have not confirmed that report, nor have they tried to shoot it down.

Texas head coach Tom Herman exits the field after losing to Oklahoma 34-27 in an NCAA college football game at the Cotton Bowl on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019, in Dallas, Texas. [NICK WAGNER/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]

It’s likely that Herman and the Longhorns are content to let Ohio State finish its season in the College Football Playoff before making it official. No. 2 Ohio State faces No. 3 Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl semifinals on Saturday.

Yurcich said he was “100% focused on Clemson” and deflected questions about Texas at a Fiesta Bowl news conference earlier this week.

Asked about the coordinator search on Friday, however, Herman described it in the past tense.

“I can’t tell you much other than pleased the way that it went,” Herman said. “Pleased that I had the opportunity to talk to as many quality candidates as we did.

“We knew we’ve got to get this right,” he added. “But it’s got to be not just right for the masses, but right for Texas. Right for what we believe in and who we want to be in on that side of the ball. I’m very pleased with where we’re at on that timetable.”

Herman made his reputation calling plays at Ohio State, most notably during the Buckeyes’ 2014 national championship run. But when he arrived at UT in 2017, he made it clear he no longer wanted to do that.

Herman hired Tim Beck to call plays but ended up stripping him of those duties in 2018 when things turned bumpy. Herman has called plays himself since, although he’s termed it a “collaborative” process with reporters.

By demoting Beck on Dec. 1 to just quarterbacks coach, Herman made it clear that he was looking for someone to take over play-calling duties. He wanted to go back to being a CEO-like head coach.

“I was a better head coach when I didn’t have that responsibility,” Herman said Friday, “and I owe it to this program to be the best version of me.”

Yurcich holds a share of the coordinator title at Ohio State, but head coach Ryan Day directs the Buckeyes’ offense. This season, Yurcich worked directly with quarterback Justin Fields, who threw 40 touchdowns and became a Heisman Trophy finalist.

Offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich speaks with the media during Oklahoma State University’s (OSU) Media Football Golf event on Tuesday, July 31, 2018 in Stillwater, Okla. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman

Yurcich rose to prominence at Oklahoma State as Mike Gundy’s offensive coordinator from 2013-18. During that time, he was twice nominated for the Broyles Award, given annually to the nation’s best assistant. The Cowboys averaged 38 points per game during Yurcich’s stay in Stillwater. OSU scored more than 40 points in almost half of its games and at least 50 points in 15 games.

Gundy discovered Yurcich after the assistant’s two-year stint at Division II Shippensburg. In 2012, Shippensburg led all Division II schools in total yardage (529.2) and was second in scoring (46.9).

Herman hired another former Buckeye, defensive coordinator Chris Ash, earlier this month. Ash was the defensive coordinator at Ohio State from 2013-15. Ash called the defensive plays for Ohio State opposite Herman’s offensive calls in 2014.

With both new coordinators in place, Herman is likely to fill out his coaching staff with assistants in January. His priorities this month were to find coordinators, finish recruiting and prepare to face No. 11 Utah in the Alamo Bowl.

Ash will not coach in the Alamo Bowl; his job will begin in full this offseason. If Yurcich is to be Herman’s offensive coordinator, he would also likely start in mid-January.

Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com.

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