Courtesy DON TOMKALSKI
The University of Tulsa
EARLY DAYS: Bill Young coaching at Tulsa in the 1980s on the staff of John Cooper.
A coaching career that has spanned 50 years came to an end as University of Tulsa defensive coordinator Bill Young announced his retirement. Young will be replaced by TU linebacker coach Joseph Gillespie.
Young, 72, just completed his fourth year with the Golden Hurricane in his second coaching stint at the university. He first coached at Tulsa, under John Cooper from 1980-84, and returned on coach Philip Montgomery’s staff as defensive coordinator and line coach in 2015. In all, Young spent nine seasons coaching at Tulsa.
Young’s defense turned in a solid 2018 season, ending the regular season with the nation’s 7th best pass defense, while allowing opponents 120+ yards less in total offense than a year earlier. He helped coach Tulsa to two bowl games, including the 2015 Camping World Independence Bowl and the 2016 Miami Beach Bowl, capping a 10-3 season.
It’s a coaching career that has also included stops as the defensive coordinator at Arizona State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Southern Cal, Kansas, Miami (Fla.) and his alma mater Oklahoma State. He coached in 22 bowl games, including the Rose, Orange, Cotton and Fiesta bowls.
“Coaching has been good to me, a great experience,” said Young. “I can’t imagine doing anything else and having enjoyed it as much. I started off as a high school coach, then worked my way into college. It’s been fantastic. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some unbelievably good coaches and people. I think a little bit of all of them rubbed off on me, and hopefully helped me become a better coach.”
Asked about what lies ahead in retirement, Young quipped, “I’m going to shut the alarm off, I know that. I don’t know if I’m ever going to use that again. But, it’s a good question. I don’t really know, but I’m going to enjoy it, I hope.”
Young will certainly enjoy more time with his wife Lawanna. “I have a lot of projects to do around the house, but I’m not going to do them any time soon. I’ll take a little time to just decompress,” added Young.
Before beginning his coaching career, Young was a three-year starter at defensive end/outside linebacker at Oklahoma State (1965-67), earning his degree in Education in 1968. After coaching six years on the prep level in Oklahoma, Young returned to his alma mater as a part-time coach at under Jim Stanley.
After one season at Iowa State, Young joined Cooper’s staff as Tulsa’s defensive tackles coach in 1980 before being elevated to defensive coordinator in 1983. Young moved with Cooper to Arizona State (1985-87) and Ohio State (1988-95). He joined the coaching staff at Oklahoma for the 1996-97 seasons and was at Southern Cal for three years (1998-2000).
Young spent the 2001 season as an assistant, coaching the defensive line for the Detroit Lions. A year later, he returned to the college ranks with the Kansas Jayhawks, where he was the defensive coordinator for eight years (2002-07). Young then spent one year at the University of Miami (Fla.) before landing back at his alma mater, Oklahoma State, in 2009, as the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator for four seasons.
After that, Young had stops at Wyoming (2013) and as head coach at Yukon (Okla.) High School in 2014 before returning to Tulsa.
In discussing his years as a collegiate coach, Young cited a phrase of John Cooper’s –– “The mountains don’t get any higher, but the valleys get deeper. I think there’s something to that,” said Young.
“I thought really strong about retiring last year, but I decided to coach another year,” said Young. “I just got the feeling that it was time. I’ve never wanted to be a burden and always wanted to feel that I was contributing, and if I got to the point that I didn’t feel that way I needed to get out.”
“It was a real blessing for me that Coach Montgomery allowed me the opportunity to come back here to The University of Tulsa. Tulsa was a favorite place for me from my first stop here,” added Young.
“Bill has made great contributions to our football program not only now, but under coach Cooper in the early stages of his career. More than anything Bill has done so much for our profession and for me personally. It was sure an advantage of having a guy that has been in so many different situations and coached at every level of football,” said Montgomery. “He’s a guy that you can bounce ideas off of and get opinions from. I’ve never coached with anybody more humble. It was never about Bill. It was always about our team and how he can help get our student-athletes to a level that he knew they could achieve.”
“In any profession, the longevity of 50 years is incredible, but with the peaks and valleys in sports, to coach for 50 years is just an unbelievable achievement. To coach that long and have the vision, passion and integrity that Bill had is just remarkable,”
“Bill does it the right way on and off the field. You’ll never find anybody that will say a negative thing towards coach Young. He has great respect across the country. He’s one of the most humble and loyal people you’ll ever meet,” added Montgomery.
Young was born in Hereford, Texas, but spent most of his childhood in Oklahoma. He attended Grant High School in Oklahoma City.
A profile of new defensive coordinator Joseph Gillespie will appear in the February editions.