Coach Mike Gundy said Young will be replaced by linebackers coach Glenn Spencer. Offensive coordinator Todd Monken left to become the head coach at Southern Miss and has not yet been replaced.
Young’s exit was somewhat surprising. Leading up to the Heart of Dallas Bowl, he had discussed contemplating retirement after more than 40 years in coaching that included stops at Miami (Fla.), Ohio State, Southern California, Oklahoma and with the NFL’s Detroit Lions. But after a dominant performance in the bowl game against Purdue, Young said he had decided to stay as long as he was wanted.
That didn’t end up being much longer.
Young’s defenses were known for causing turnovers more frequently than any other team in the country. In his first three seasons, the Cowboys created 108 takeaways, 17 more than any other team. But Oklahoma State couldn’t keep up that pace after the best season in school history, falling off to an 8-5 finish this season.
The unit’s 22 takeaways ended up in the middle of the pack nationwide, with five of those coming in the 48-14 bowl blowout against Purdue. That total was exactly half of the 44 turnovers forced as Oklahoma State won its first Big 12 championship, the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl and a school-record 12 games in 2011.
The takeaways had also been a key part in his defense at Kansas in 2007, when the Jayhawks ranked in the top five in the country with 35 turnovers forced on their way to an Orange Bowl victory.
Before this season, Gundy had suggested the defense could be the best in his tenure at Oklahoma State, but it fell far short of those expectations.
The Cowboys finished the season ranked 80th in the nation with 421.7 yards allowed per game and 110th in pass defense, giving up 280 yards per game. Instead of getting takeaways at all the key moments, Oklahoma State struggled to get stops when they were needed the most.
“We are appreciative of everything Coach Young has done for us over the past four years,” Gundy said in a statement, “but we are also excited about heading in a new direction with our defense.”
Spencer filled in as Oklahoma State’s defensive coordinator for the first two games this season, when Young was recovering from treatment for an aneurysm that was found between his eyes. That included a shutout against overmatched Savannah State in the opener and a 42-30 loss at Arizona.
Spencer has been the Cowboys’ linebackers coach for the past five seasons. He was also given the title of co-defensive coordinator prior to the 2011 season. He previously was an assistant coach at Duke and Georgia Tech, his alma mater.