STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — James Franklin met with his quarterbacks on Sunday afternoon to inform them of his decision to fire offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich.
The head coach said he knew it was time to make the move, and there was no need to delay the decision any longer. Months of questions about an offense that wasn’t explosive enough and that fell flat against the two toughest opponents this season reaffirmed to Franklin that he needed to move on from Yurcich.
For the first time in his Penn State tenure, Franklin fired a coach during the season.
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“I think you guys have heard me come in and talk about whether it’s openers, whether it’s third downs, whether it’s starting fast, all those things are things that led to lengthy discussions about and (we) had a plan for, but a lot of times when we got to the games either we did not call the games that way or we did not execute the games that way,” Franklin said Monday at his weekly news conference.
Franklin met with the rest of his team ahead of Sunday’s practice and told them how Penn State plans to move forward while he works to hire his sixth offensive coordinator since 2014.
“This is a place that’s got very, very high expectations and standards,” Franklin said when asked why there’s been so much turnover with his offensive coordinators. “We have to make sure that each area, whether it’s strength and conditioning, whether it’s academics, whether it’s offense, defense, special teams, for us to go where we want to go and play at the very, very highest level we need each one of those units producing on a very, very high level consistently.”
Franklin and graduate assistant Danny O’Brien will both coach the quarterbacks for the rest of the season. The staff has been extremely high on O’Brien, who previously served as an analyst. Franklin said he’ll be sure he’s in every quarterback meeting this week.
Tight ends coach Ty Howle and running backs coach Ja’Juan Seider, who both entered the 2023 season with the title of co-offensive coordinator, will work together to game plan and call plays the rest of the season. Franklin said the two work well together and already have been “very collaborative.” How the actual play-calling process plays out is something Penn State is working through this week.
Franklin said he already has a list of potential coordinator candidates that he’ll begin working through. While he’d like to have a replacement hired sooner rather than later, he said the focus remains on finishing out the rest of the season strong.
The timing of this move could potentially give Penn State a bit of an advantage. Franklin was able to hire defensive coordinator Manny Diaz ahead of the team’s bowl trip a few years ago and also had former offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca in place prior to the Cotton Bowl in the 2019 season. The sooner the new coordinator can start to evaluate the roster the better.
Franklin is looking for a coordinator who can help elevate the program into the top tier of college football.
“We need to play well and we need to play well against our tougher opponents,” Franklin said. “(I’m looking for) somebody that’s going to put us in the best position to play our best football when it’s needed most, against the best competition.”
Franklin said quarterback Drew Allar will not be involved in the hiring process but that he will factor in Allar’s skill set to make sure the next system fits the quarterback.
(Photo: G Fiume / Getty Images)