STILLWATER — Bill Young started coaching football the same year that Peggy Fleming skated into America's heart, Madison Square Garden opened its doors and two American sprinters raised black-gloved fists of solidarity.
It's been 45 years.
Young isn't sure how many more he'll go.
Asked this week if he was planning to continue coaching many more years, the Oklahoma State defensive coordinator was noncommittal.
“I don't know, I don't know,” Young said. “I'm going to think about it.”
His uncertainty about his future in football has been affected by this season. It's been a rough year on and off the field.
“It's by far the toughest,” Young admitted. “In the four years I've been here, it's the toughest.”
The difficulty began before the games did. A routine medical checkup before the season opener led to an MRI. That test revealed an aneurysm lurking right between Young's eyes.
If left unchecked, it could've ruptured.
If it ruptured, it could've killed Young.
A medical procedure to correct the problem forced Young to miss two games. But more than that, it made him face his mortality and consider his future.
The season has only added to those deliberations.
Young was pleased with how the first 10 games of the season went. Even though the Cowboys didn't win all of those games, he was upbeat about how the defense played.
But the last two games of the season were a downer. In losses to Oklahoma and Baylor, the Cowboys gave up 51 points and 618 yards to the Sooners and 41 points and 615 yards to the Bears.
“We gave up way too many yards and way too many points,” Young said. “The last two games were just absolutely unacceptable. We just didn't play well at all.”
Some of the reasons for that were out of Young's control, starting with injuries. He was dealing with a secondary that was especially hobbled and thinned by injury. Devin Hedgepeth and Jonovan Griffin were lost for the season. Andrae May was limited. Brodrick Brown could hardly walk.
And as injuries mounted, the effect of eight straight games without a bye took its toll on players.
Guys were worn slick.
So was Young.
“It's wearing,” he admitted. “We had so many issues this year from injuries, just so many things distracting.”
While Young recognizes those issues, he takes responsibility for what happened against OU and Baylor.
“The bottom line — I've got to coach better,” he said.
He intends to do just that against Purdue in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. His face brightens and his voice accelerates as he talks about the chance to get on the field one more time this season.
“I'm looking forward to playing this game and redeeming ourselves,” Young said. “Personally, I just hope we can go out and play the way we're capable of playing and look good doing it.
“That's what I would hope — make ourselves feel better, especially as coaches. We put a load on ourselves. It's our job. We've gotta get it done.”
It's a job Young has gotten done for almost half a century, but as he approaches 70 years old, he's started to ask himself just how much longer he wants to coach. But he's also got a fire for football that still burns.
So, how much longer will he coach? How much longer will he keep his dream job, coaching the defense at his alma mater? How much longer will he continue doing what he's done since the Vietnam War raged and “60 Minutes” debuted?
I don't know.
And at this point, I truthfully don't believe Young knows either.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.