For the new offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State, Mike Yurcich is jumping from the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference in Division II, to the Big XII conference in the FBS. A promotion well-deserved by the man who behind Shippensburg's multiple offense and has been a part of the success the Red Raiders have had in Mark Maciejewski's first two seasons at the helm.
After Rocky Rees hung up the whistle after the 2010 season, Coach "Mac" (as the students and community know Maciejewski as), was named his successor after two decades of Rees as head coach. Mac is man who would bleed red and blue if it was humanly possible.
A lot of things changed for Shippensburg football in 2011. A new attitude under a man who has been with Shippensburg since he put the pads on as a student athlete, new uniforms, and a new offensive style when Mac brought in Mike Yurcich to run the offense. From the get go, the new Red Raider created a fast-paced, unpredictable offense that had a few bumps in the road early on in 2011, but found its way to a 7-4 record and began breaking previous school records.
For 2012, the only way to go was up. Key starters returned and lit up scoreboards all over Pennsylvania this past season. The Red Raiders averaged 47 points per game, over 500 yards of offense per game, and saw individual school records being smashed on a weekly basis.
What has been even more impressive is how Yurcich and Mac have molded their student athletes into high profile players in Division II. The most highlighted is quarterback Zach Zulli. Zulli was a special teams player his freshman year, and while Steven Adams looked to be the number one QB on the depth chart in 2011, Zulli impressed his first year under center, or in this case, back in the shoutgun. A mobile quarterback with a good arm, Zulli was able to win the Harlon Hill Trophy this season as the best player in Division II (their equivalent of the Heisman).
With offensive stats near the top of the national rankings in Division II, Oklahoma State and other programs across the country had to be hearing about this team in Pennsylvania that was piling up numbers week after week. The Cowboys made Yurcich their third coordinator in four years. So they are hoping he stays and can make them a contender for the national championship.
Mike Yurcich being hired at Oklahoma State speaks highly of what Mark Maciejewski set out to do when he took over in 2011. During a conversation I had with him, Mac referred to offseason practices like a big bus. You gotta figure out the right seats for the right players. Yurcich was the perfect co-pilot of that Shippensburg bus and they almost rode it to an undefeated, conference championship season and into the second round of the Division II tournament.
What the Red Raiders have done in two seasons under a new head coach with a new offense has been exciting to watch and has made football on Shippensburg's campus a weekend event that students want to go to. With the best player in Division II on their roster, a talented group of players and more national recognition, Mike Yurcich knows that he accomplish a lot in two years at the school in south-central Pennsylvania that is often forgotten, and will continue his success in Stillwater.