Mike Yurcich wore out his welcome.

That, and James Franklin needed a scapegoat after his Penn State team averaged 13.5 points in losses to B1G nemeses Ohio State and Michigan.

When offensive malaise becomes the problem for a program getting serious about making the Playoff, the coordinator must go.

Only time will tell if Yurcich truly was the problem or if he’s a scapegoat. Officially axed a day after Penn State’s 24-15 loss to Michigan, the 48-year-old Yurcich spent less than 3 full seasons orchestrating the team’s offense.

Franklin, in his 10th season, buys some time with this move. Though it won’t appease his ardent detractors, it will soothe AD Pat Kraft, the board and the less hysterical members of Nittany Nation. Those in charge don’t want to buy out a contract with 8 years remaining if it’s not necessary.

This is a prudent move, and not just for financial reasons.

Immediate fallout

Running backs coach Ja’Juan Seider and tight ends coach Ty Howle have been tasked with calling the offense as the Lions (8-2, 5-2) attempt to close the season on a positive note against Rutgers and at Michigan State. No doubt, they will be huge favorites (-20.5 vs. the Scarlet Knights on Saturday) against both those fellow B1G East also-rans. No doubt, they could have waxed those teams with Yurcich’s bland attack and Manny Diaz’s spicy defense. That formula works fine against Delaware, UMass and the dregs of the B1G.

But despite some gaudy numbers posted against weaklings, Penn State’s offense has regressed in almost every regard this season. The line play is worse. The top 2 backs have gone from freshman sensations to plodders. Big plays are few and far between, in both the run and pass game. Receivers, especially those below KeAndre Lambert-Smith on the depth chart, can’t gain separation or settle into soft spots in zones. Tight ends Theo Johnson and Tyler Warren have had their moments, but no one other than Lambert-Smith (6-52 against Ohio State) had more than 2 receptions in either of the losses.

First-year starting quarterback Drew Allar posted his only 300-yard game in the opener. Since then, it seems like the offense has been constraining him rather than the other way around. His accuracy has waned at times, especially in the losses, but the 19-year-old has 21 TD passes and only 2 turnovers — 1 pick and 1 fumble lost. He’s thrown some pinpoint darts to Johnson and Warren, who have a combined 11 TD grabs. And he’s proved mobile enough the past 2 weeks to be a running threat (88 yards on 14 carries).

Seider and Howle have 2 November games plus a bowl to inject some fun and variety back into the attack. Job 1 is to sell Allar, Nick Singleton, Kaytron Allen and other players worth keeping that better days are ahead. They’re going to have to convince Allar, in particular, that his primary recruiter was indeed the problem, and that his 5-star pedigree won’t be wasted going forward.

Major changes won’t be possible, but look for a few runs outside the tackles and some Allar deep shots. Kaden Saunders should be a primary target, since he’ll definitely be back next season (barring a transfer).

Short-term fallout

Iowa needs an OC, and Yurcich is on the market. Kirk Ferentz would love to land a name guy with a conservative bent. Whether it’s Iowa City or elsewhere, Yurcich most likely will land at a power program. Could he possibly drag some of his Penn State recruits along? Even Allar?

Depending on how long it takes for Franklin to name a replacement, Allar and others could get nervous about their roles. If the hire comes from the outside, does the whole offensive staff get jettisoned? Personally, I don’t see the logic in that.

Fourth-year line coach Phil Trautwein has made progress, on the field and in recruiting. The play up front is lagging a bit this season, but that really might be due to Yurcich’s bland, predictable play-calling. The pass protection has been solid, with 13 sacks allowed through 10 games, which ranks in the top 20 in the nation.

Marques Hagans is in his first year coaching receivers, so Taylor Stubblefield has already been scapegoated for what’s happening this year.

Seider and Howle were rising stars just a year ago as their position groups flourished.

Wholesale changes aren’t needed, just a leader with some outside-the-box vision.

Who is the ideal candidate?

Give me Joe Moorhead, Penn State’s OC in 2016-17, with a willingness to add plays under center and the occasional jumbo package to his spread and destroy approach.

Back then, defensive failing kept Penn State behind Ohio State, as the Lions lost high-scoring 1-point games to the Buckeyes in 2017 and 2018. Moorhead had Trace McSorley, Saquon Barkley and a group of dynamic receivers spreading out defenses and carving them up — even with a highly suspect line.

Someone like that. Maybe Moorhead himself — in his 2nd year as Akron head coach — is interested in coming back. If not, Franklin can put his networking skills to work and find someone similar. Or decide he has such a person on staff. Seider, 46, has been at Penn State for 6 years. Howle, 32, is in his 3rd season in State College. Franklin could certainly promote one of them (or both, as they’re currently listed as co-OCs) and hire a quarterback whisperer to fill out the staff.

Franklin’s OC picks since Moorhead haven’t panned out. Ricky Rahne toned down Moorhead’s approach without adding elements to make up the difference. Kirk Ciarrocca lasted 1 shortened season in 2020 between stints at Minnesota and now Rutgers.

Yurcich showed some innovation in Year 1, particularly in a White Out victory over Auburn. The offense made major strides when Singleton and Allen joined the program last year. But this season? With Allar replacing 4-year starter Sean Clifford, Yurcich turtled up. Oddly, he became more constraining as the season wore on. Even in blowout victories, he didn’t do enough to open things up and help the players get comfortable. Thus, they didn’t have the reps or volume of play options to compete with confidence against the big boys.

From the outside, fans wondered if Franklin’s hands on the reins added another layer of restraint. Whatever the case, Yurcich’s firing opens the latest opportunity to get things right. The head coach found a gem for the defensive side of things 2 years ago in Diaz. Maybe try No. 5 replacing the OC will pan out.