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Oklahoma State football: Bill Young's departure from OSU has become a mystery

by Jenni Carlson Published: January 10, 2013

Maybe it began as a misunderstanding between Mike Gundy and Bill Young.

Maybe it was a miscommunication.

Whatever it was, it's a mess now.

Thursday, we learned that Oklahoma State parted ways with its defensive coordinator. But we also learned that according to Young, he and Gundy agreed almost a year ago that this past season would be Young's last. The reason? In part, Young said, it was because Gundy said the 66-year-old was too old to continue coaching.

Told you this was messy.

This move that was sure to be difficult — how could the Cowboys cutting loose one of their own be anything but? — but it became down right screwy with some awkward revelations reported by Jimmie Tramel of The Tulsa World.

Let's start by rewinding four years. The Cowboys had just lost Tim Beckman, who had taken on Vance Bedford's underperforming defense, turned a corner with the Cowboys but stayed only two years. Looking for stability, Gundy turned to Young.

The OSU alum and former player was at Miami but was only a season removed from helping Kansas get to the Orange Bowl. Young didn't have a bunch of great players in Lawrence, but he still put together a stout defense.

There was no doubt he was getting the most out of his players, one of the hallmarks of his long career.

Gundy hired him, and here's where the mess started.

Young said that upon Gundy hiring him, the head coach believed Young would coach a few years, then retire. Did Gundy say as much, and Young just went along with it? Did Young dispute it but have his words fall on deaf ears? Or did Gundy just assume that retirement was surely around the corner since Young was already past his 60th birthday?

We don't know.

We might never know.

Only Gundy and Young know for sure what was said then or what was said last winter.

Last season, after the Cowboys won the Big 12, Young wasn't among the coaches given a contract extension. He went to talk to Gundy about it, and according to Young, the head coach told him that football is a young man's game. Young said that Gundy then told him that “he thought my age would hurt recruiting and he thought players wouldn't play for me.”

If what Young says is true, he might construe those comments as age discrimination. So might some lawyers.

Did I mention this was a mess?

We figured that Young might be on his way out. He had a health scare before the season that forced him to miss two games, and before the Heart of Dallas Bowl, he told me that he wasn't sure about his future beyond this season.

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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