Living History

WVU program coordinator Donnie Young has seen a lot of changes during his long tenure with the Mountaineer football program, but none stand out so much as the money and business issues which now permeate the college game.

Young has seen the Mountaineer program as a player, coach, administrative assistant and program coordinator, and therefore has a somewhat unique perspective on the changes of West Virginia football over the years. Beginning with his playing career in the early 1960s, Young has been at WVU in various capacities for more than thirty years.

As a result, he has a great perspective on the changes in football over the past quarter century.

"It's so much more like a business now," Young said as he analyzed the many changes he has seen. "That's the nature of the game today, from TV revenues to the expenses involved, all across the Division 1 level. It's just the size of it, and the fact that you run it more like a business.

"The actual fund raising is probably the biggest difference these days, that is, the way you go about raising funds. For example, we've started the 1100 Club, which is really important to our recruiting. Getting people to join something like this has been a unique experience for me. I've never done it before, but I've enjoyed it. You get to meet a lot of people, and I'm a little bit surprised by how much support there really is for West Virginia University."

Young, being a state native, has obviously developed a number of friendships throughout West Virginia, and his stints as the football team's recruiting coordinator have only expanded his opportunities to get to know great numbers of both current and potential Mountaineer supporters. And while many of those relationships were developed as he recruited players for the WVU football squad, he's now able to again call on those people for a different kind of support - namely, a monetary one. And although drumming up donations might be a ticklish task, Young believes that the working relationships he has forged over the years help him as he spearheads Mountaineer Football fundraising efforts.

"I think our relationships are great," said Young. "Over the years, I've developed a lot of good relationships, and those have been helpful. When you know the people, you've built up a trust over the years, so it's been helpful for me."

Young has also gained a renewed appreciation for the support that Mountaineer fans have for their team.

"Sometimes I think that coaches might lead a bit of a sheltered life," Young explained in relationship to their long work hours and limited free time. "They are kind of off by themselves. But I've gotten the chance to get out in the public and see the kind of support that we have, and it's really great."

Despite all those changes, and the increased business emphasis, Young still believes that the coaching fraternity is a tightly knit one.

"I think the relationships between coaches are still pretty much the same. There's something about being part of the group of coaches, whether it was thirty years ago or today. The bond that we had on Coach Nehlen's staff is similar to the one that we have with Coach Rodriguez' coaches. The coaches spend hours and hours together, so I think they are able to develop a great relationship."

Young certainly isn't slowing down much, even though he's no longer coaching. In addition to fundraising, where the demands and expectations increase almost daily, he coordinates recruiting visits and remains heavily involved in West Virginia's summer camps. However, there is one time when he can relax a bit, and it's precisely at the time when the WVU coaching staff is at its most tense.

"I enjoy the games a lot more," Young laughed as he talked about the main difference between his current job and his previous on-field coaching duties. "A lot of the guys used to kid me that I enjoyed the practices a lot more than the games. During the games, you're making calls and substitutions, and you're really into it. When you're on the sidelines and don't have those responsibilities, you can really enjoy the game."

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