GLENDALE, Ariz. — Another coordinator position is available at Ohio State, and Ryan Day is already getting a chance to tweak his coaching staff in his image heading into his second year in charge.
Multiple sources have confirmed to Lettermen Row that Mike Yurcich is expected to be announced as a new hire at Texas this week, leaving the Buckeyes after one season working with the quarterbacks and serving as a co-offensive coordinator. And while that move might seem head-scratching on the surface, multiple sources have indicated to Lettermen Row that the seeds had been planted for months and this wasn’t an unexpected development for Day as he prepared for the offseason after the Fiesta Bowl loss to Clemson.
Yurcich was in charge of developing Justin Fields, and the sophomore turned into a Heisman Trophy finalist in his first season as a starter. So, there can’t be many complaints about his work there. And his success helping designs offenses at Oklahoma State was undeniable and put him on the radar for Day in the first place at this last year. But multiple sources suggested there wasn’t a culture fit for either party, and a separation will probably help both Yurcich get what he wants as a play-caller and Day gets another crack at identifying the right guy for the Buckeyes.
“It’s the rumor time of year,” Yurcich said earlier in the week, refusing to address his pending departure. “Our focus is on beating Clemson, and that’s the most important thing right now. That’s where our focus is right now.”
What does this move mean for the Buckeyes as they get to work for the 2020 season and another run at a national title? Lettermen Row is breaking it down with a few snap judgments.
Mike Yurcich wanted more responsibility
As much as Ohio State works to make building the offense a collaborative effort, there’s certainly a pecking order when it comes to credit for the way the high-powered attack performs. Ryan Day is at the top of the pyramid as the play-caller, and right there alongside him is right-hand man Kevin Wilson — with those two continuing to push the envelope thanks to great chemistry and innovative thinking. Yurcich has had plenty of success leading an offense in the past, but he was never going to be a primary play-caller with the Buckeyes, which could have dampened his chances of getting a head-coaching job down the road. Taking over at Texas under another offensive guru in former Ohio State coordinator Tom Herman might not get him exactly what he wants either, but it’s not a surprise that Yurcich would take that chance back in a league he knows well.
Ohio State wasn’t caught off guard, can capitalize
The Buckeyes were caught off guard defensively when Jeff Hafley bolted for Boston College, and there was optimism that he would stick around for a second season after his fantastic debut with the program. Between the two vacancies, there’s no question which one will sting Ohio State more — and the shuffling on the offensive side might wind up working in Day’s favor. Obviously he’s going to have to go make a big-time hire, but just within the current group, this could be an opportunity to give Brian Hartline a much-needed raise and potentially even more responsibility as he continues his rise through the ranks of the profession. With Day, Wilson, offensive line coach Greg Studrawa and running backs coach Tony Alford, the continuity and core foundation of the system remains intact. It’s a bit early to speculate on who could complete that group as a search just begins, but Day has already proven with Hafley that he’s identified guys from his past who he trusts to get the job done.
Buckeyes need better recruiting from that role
Perhaps this sounds a bit odd since Ohio State just landed two of the country’s best quarterback recruits to come in and compete head to head, and both of them committed expecting that Mike Yurcich would be their position coach. But there were concerns about his ability to recruit at the kind of elite level the Buckeyes expect dating back to the summer, and three sources with direct knowledge told Lettermen Row that the lack of communication from Yurcich nearly derailed the program’s pursuit of C.J. Stroud. There can be absolutely no question that Ohio State coaches have to be at the top of their game when it comes to building the roster, and recruiting is where it all starts. Day can draw from both the NFL and college ranks with his next hire, but the ability to work the trail will probably be the most important quality — especially since Day can still lend a hand working with the quarterbacks.