John E. Hoover: OSU defense ends season on high note; Bill Young considers future
BY JOHN E. HOOVER World Sports Columnist
Wednesday, January 02, 2013
1/02/13 at 3:33 AM
Go to John E. Hoover's blogOriginal Print Headline: Defense leaves on high note as Young considers future
DALLAS - Quarterback Clint Chelf raised his MVP trophy. Head coach Mike Gundy took the microphone to address the Orange Nation. OSU fans bellowed their cheerful roars.
As Oklahoma State's New Year's Day party roiled inside Cotton Bowl Stadium, Bill Young, the Cowboys' 66-year-old, home-spun defensive coordinator, slowly walked away, nearly alone, off the field, out of the stadium, up the ramp and toward the locker room.
Young stopped briefly to shake hands and share a moment with co-defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer, but they quickly put their heads down and trudged ahead, each man lost in his own introspection.
Young, Spencer, their staff and the whole OSU defensive unit had just completed a dominating performance, a 58-14 victory over Purdue in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, and relief, not exultation, was on their minds.
"Oh, it was just a relief to get this season over with," Young said afterward. "You know, we struggled. We didn't play as well as any of us wanted."
After 12 games, Oklahoma State's defense ranked 82nd in the nation in total yards allowed (426.2 per game) and 72nd in points allowed (29.4 per game).
Even worse, in back-to-back losses to close the year - to Oklahoma and Baylor - the opposition ran 197 plays, gained 76 first downs, amassed 1,233 yards of offense and scored 92 points.
"They couldn't overcome my coaching those last two games," Young said. "Seriously. It's my fault."
But Tuesday, against a limited Purdue offense bent on self-immolation, Young's defense got five turnovers, yielded just 367 yards and two late scores. It was 45-0 in the final seconds of the third quarter.
Just as Young claimed mea culpa for his defense's performances against the Sooners and Bears, he took no credit for the Heart of Dallas Bowl beatdown.
"He deflects everything off himself. Everything," Spencer said. "He's not gonna ever pat himself on the back. And then when things don't go good - which, that happens - he's gonna take all the blame. That just tells you what a pro he is."
It helped that Purdue dropped or overthrew four potential touchdown passes and that the Boilermakers (6-7) had all the speed of a Midwestern winter.
But what helped more than that was that Oklahoma State (8-5), for a change, had a healthy roster. Defensive tackle James Castleman and cornerback Brodrick Brown were back, and safety Daytawion Lowe and others were healed and rested.
"We had time to get well. That's the main thing," Young said. "And I think our players were more motivated."
Perhaps they were motivated by pre-bowl speculation that it could be Young's final game.
"I don't know where that came from," Young said. "As long as they'll take me back, I'll be back."
Gundy, when asked if he wants Young back for 2013, said he couldn't commit yet either way.
"Well, I'm gonna sit down and talk with him like I would every coach," Gundy said. "That's not a question I can answer at this time, for a lot of reasons."
Gundy said it would be for Young to assess first, not him.
"And I think he will," Gundy said. "He's got to decide just kind of where he's at with his career and his age. This is not an easy profession to be in as you get older. I think he's got to make that decision."
Since graduating from Oklahoma State in 1968, Young has been an assistant coach at nine universities - including Tulsa, OU and OSU three times - as well as two high schools and one NFL team.
Critics suggest contemporary offensive football may have left behind older coaches like Young. But the reality is that a coach of Young's pedigree could recite more football knowledge during an elevator ride than the entire (and sadly sparse) Heart of Dallas Bowl crowd could write down in a weekend.
"I'm a better coach today than I was last year," Young said. "The more experience you get, there's no substitute for that."
Young clearly loves coaching. But factors like high stress and good health and living to a ripe old age with wife Lawana are things with which he is concerned - and rightly so.
In September, doctors detected a near-fatal cerebral aneurism in his forehead that required surgery and caused him to miss two games. Young said the aneurism originally occurred in 1982, when he was an assistant coach at TU. For three decades, Young thought he was in the clear.
But after a routine checkup last summer, he was urged to get an MRI that ultimately determined that the problem hadn't gone away. Young said his father died at the age of 31 of the same thing, a brain aneurism the size of your fingernail - in the same location, even, right between the eyes.
"They think these are hereditary," Young said.
So he'll meet with Gundy, like he does after each year, and together they'll talk about 2013.
"When you're an assistant coach, you're at the leisure of the head coach," Young said. "They've got to make decisions that impact the football team. That's their job. They're trying to always upgrade and stay in front of the curve."
"I hope it's not my last season. I mean, who knows? I've been very fortunate. There's nothing like coaching at your alma mater. It's really special."
OSU quarterback Clint Chelf threw three touchdown passes and was named the game’s MVP. STEPHEN PINGRY / Tulsa World