Bill Clay: The Real Story

Robert Allen received an interesting phone call on Wednesday afternoon from a man he has a great deal of respect for. Former Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Bill Clay called Robert and told him he wanted to set some things straight.

"I've been walking around Stillwater with people congratulating me on the move to LSU, and I'm not going to LSU. All that talk was premature," stated Clay right at the start of our conversation.

Clay said he wanted to get his story out there and asked if I would help. He told me he was really frustrated that his name was put on a list by Mack Butler and/or Les Miles of the coaches who were joining Miles at LSU.

"When Les took the job he told me that he wanted me to come with him and I assumed he meant as defensive coordinator, but he never would tell me specifically what position. That's why when they sent the plane over (from Baton Rouge) for the other assistants I didn't get on it. I told Les I would come over the next day."

The delay allowed the veteran coach to visit OSU athletic director Harry Birdwell and new OSU head coach Mike Gundy and inform them that he was going to LSU to interview as per the requirements in his contract with Oklahoma State. Technically, Clay never left the Oklahoma State staff although the announcements led one to believe that was the case.

"I'm really frustrated that it was announced that way, but I'm a big boy and I'll get over it," continued Clay. "I went over for a few days and finally had a chance to talk face to face with coach Miles and the job he offered me was not an on the field coaching job. I wasn't interested because I'm a football coach. I turned around and came back."

Clay said he has hired an agent, but the lateness of his situation will make it difficult for him to get a position. He still wants to coach football.

"Last year when Sylvester Croom got the head coaching job at Mississippi State he called me and said he wanted me to come over and be his defensive coordinator. Sylvester and I had worked together at Tampa Bay in the NFL. He told me I was the first one he was offering the job to.

"When Les Miles called me five years ago he had told me that he needed someone to come in and help him build a program and that he was going to be there for many years. That's why I came here, to help build a program, and I thought this would be my last job," continued Clay.

"So when Sylvester called with all the talk with coach Miles about Alabama and Michigan, I went to him and asked him, should I take this job or turn it down," Clay said. "He told me to turn it down that he was going to be at OSU for many years. I should have taken it, but I'll get over that too."

Clay said he has no regrets about Oklahoma State. In fact he called his time in Stillwater as good as any he has ever had. He said helping to contribute to the recent success of Cowboy football is how he wants to be remembered and how he'll remember OSU.

"I'm proud of what we've done here," said Clay. "I'm proud of the players I've coached and I hope Oklahoma State has even more success in the future. I will root for this school. It's been good to me and to my family. I have no hard feelings about anything that has happened. I understand the decision Mike has made. He doesn't owe me anything, and he needs to go his own way. I hope he is very successful. I do have some problems with the way it ended, but I'm a big boy and I'll get over it."

Bill Clay is a class man and a class coach. I honestly wish I could have played for him, although I'm certain I wouldn't have helped him much. I told him that I really hope I live to see the day when another OSU defense holds Oklahoma to zero yards rushing.

"So do I big daddy, so do I," said Clay in parting.

(Editor's Note: Just hours after Robert wrote this story, Clay called to inform him that Miles had called him Wednesday night. What follows is what has transpired since the above story was written.)

Bill Clay was called by Les Miles on Wedneday night and informed that he was still in the running for the defensive coordinator job. Clay told me no promises were made by Miles other than he is still in contention for the position. Clay said he is sitting back and waiting to see what develops.
The fact that Clay is in the running for the defensive coordinator position gives credence to reports that Cleveland Brown linebacker coach George Edwards, who was being pursued for the defensive coordinator jobs at both OSU and LSU, is planning on staying in the NFL. Edwards coached linebackers with the Dallas Cowboys when Miles was coaching tight ends at Dallas.

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