CHICKASHA — Young's six years at Kansas helped compel coach Mike Gundy to pursue him when he was looking for a defensive coordinator after Tim Beckman was hired away to be Toledo's new head coach in December 2008.
Young had moved on to Miami (Fla.) after Kansas' Orange Bowl run, but was attracted to come back to the school where he played from 1965-67 and coached the offensive and defensive lines in the late 1970s.
"He brought a lot to the table from an experience standpoint, years of service," Gundy said. "I thought that he could help me as a head coach, just from the experience that he had, and then obviously his knowledge of the defense and familiarity with the conference was a plus."
Once he hired Young, Gundy — a former offensive coordinator and quarterback — took a hands-off approach with the defense.
"The maturity that he brings to the table allowed me just to let him control the defense," Gundy said. "When I hired him, I was still calling offensive plays, so I needed somebody that could really be the head coach of the defense and he was able to do that."
In his first year, Young took a defense that hadn't finished better than 75th in the nation in scoring defense or yardage allowed in any of Gundy's first four seasons and turned it into the 31st-ranked unit in both categories. The numbers haven't been as impressive this year, except that Oklahoma State ranks fifth in the nation with 27 takeaways.
That's the same formula that worked when Kansas forced 35 takeaways and led the nation in turnover margin in 2007. This weekend, he'll get a chance to revisit some of those fond memories. Although the coaching staff has changed, Young said he still knows "a ton" of people around the program that he's looking forward to seeing again.
"I loved it up there. It's a great place to live, great people and our football program was really down when we got there and when I left it was about as high as it's ever been," Young said. "It'll be fun going back."