Q&A With Defensive Coordinator Bill Young

Honestly, I prefer to write stories but I think the best way to present this to you is in question and answer form. Oklahoma State's new football staffers - defensive coordinator Bill Young, running backs coach Robert Gillespie, and new offensive assistant Robert Matthews - met with the media and discussed their new positions and Cowboy football on Friday afternoon.

For Young this represents a return to Stillwater after playing defensive end for the Cowboys from 1965 to '68 and coaching both as a graduate assistant in 1969-70 and then as a full-time assistant from 1976 to '78. Young went on to serve as defensive coordinator at Tulsa, Ohio State, Southern Cal, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Miami (Fla.). That is a very impressive list of stops on a coaching resume.

Here is a selection of questions and answers from his conversation with myself and a few other media members.

RA: Burt Jacobsen (former OSU player and coach) told me the other morning that he can't wait to sit down and swap stories while drinking a cold beverage. You guys shared an office back in the old days.
Bill Young: Yeah, we had to duck down or we would hit our head. It was a little spartan back in those days.

RA: What about the facilities here at OSU now? I know you've seen them on trips back as they've been built, but now to be back here and coaching here with the facilities as an alum of Oklahoma State.
Bill Young: I'll tell you what, I was telling Coach (Mike) Gundy and the coaches on staff that the facilities they are in now, that a lot of people would be really impressed to have those. Now we're going to the other end, and I haven't seen much of that but looking in, it looks spectacular.

RA: I know you've been asked this a lot, and thought about it. The gut feeling about being back here after playing and coaching here. The Phil Cutchin attachment, the Jim Stanley attachment, to be back and coaching in this program now, how does it feel?
Bill Young: It is extremely exciting, both me and my wife (Lawana) are both from Oklahoma. Being a graduate I think there is no place like home. Dorothy said that and it's true.

RA: I think there is a lot better talent here, overall, than when you left.
Bill Young: Gosh yes, a lot better than when I was a player. Now there were some other good players on that team back then.

RA: When you were coaching too. It's improved.
Bill Young: Now when I was here in '76 that was an extremely talented football team. (Note: We stand corrected that 1976 team was talented and did win the only Big Eight Conference title in football in school history, sharing the title with Colorado and Oklahoma.)

RA: Some of the guys that you are going to be coaching are on their third defensive coordinator in their career here. Isn't it crucial in putting the defense together to judge how much they can learn and not overdo it so that they can still react and make plays?
Bill Young: You are saying exactly what I would be saying and realize that we can't put too much on 'em and release them and let them play. Let their talent show and let them play fast.

Randy Renner: Talk about the defense and the kind of defense that you want to play here.
Bill Young: We are going to play winning defense and whatever it takes to be successful. We'll get together as a defensive staff and with Coach Gundy's leadership there and figure out what best suits our players and that's what we'll do. You are always evolving as a defense and looking for newer and better ways to get it done. That is our job as a defensive staff and I'm sure we'll get it done.

Bill Haisten: You look at what they've done here the last couple of years, it's an inability to get pressure. Do you see that as priority number one?
Bill Young: I think priority number one is to get a short field for our offense, get turnovers, or score on defense. That is priority number one and we're just going to find out whatever it takes to be a winning football team.

Bill Haisten: Were you seventh in the nation in passing defense at Miami (last season) because you covered so well or you pressured so well?
Bill Young: I think it's a combination. I think you have to mix it up and you have to do a lot of different things and that goes back to how much can you do and still be effective. We're just going to have to see what the talent is and play to the strength of our players.

RA: I remember you as a coach as a freshman (at OSU 1978) and fundamentals was such a big part of what you were about. I've talked to some of the people at Kansas and they say that has not changed. How important are the fundamentals, like tackling, to you?
Bill Young: You always hear coaches say after they get beat that they have to go back to fundamentals. Well, fundamentals is probably why they got beat. We are going to try and make sure that is not a problem for us. And if we do lose that it isn't because of fundamentals.

Bill Haisten: (After asking and finidng out that Young rented in Miami) Are you going to buy a house here?
Bill Young: Without question. I'm going to put some roots down. Plant some trees and all that.

RA: How much difference was there in what you were doing this year at Miami as compared to KU when you left?
Bill Young: We were just beginning to put our program in there and would have been much, much improved had we stayed. They'll (Miami) do a great job too. They'll come on and they have some great players coming back. We had a lot of freshmen that played, sophomores and juniors. There are a lot of players coming back. Coach (Randy) Shannon is an excellent football coach and a far better defensive coordinator than I am. He'll have that thing going big time.

RA: I heard that the hardest thing for you in making this decision was that there are some really good young players coming back there. You know they are going to be good.
Bill Young: They are, they are going to be real good. It's going to be exciting to watch them play.

Randy Renner: Have you had a chance to study the talent that you have here?
Bill Young: No, I really haven't. I have studied the offense quite a bit in the past, but I haven't turned the projector on yet. We're going to have plenty of time to do that. I'm sure that I'll start on that this weekend, maybe here in a few minutes.

RA: Your last two times going against Oklahoma State were an afternoon in Lawrence that you'd probably rather forget and a night here in Stillwater that was pretty good for your defense.
Bill Young: We played fairly well and the ball bounced a couple of times our way. You know how that is, you always have to have a little luck.

Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. I think Bill Young is planning on being a little of both in his return to coach the Cowboys defense at his alma mater.

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