David Yost had made it.
He was the offensive coordinator and assistant head coach at Missouri, the culmination of 19 years spent with head coach Gary Pinkel.
Yost was considered a quarterback whisperer, coaching up stars like Chris Wallace, Brad Smith, Chase Daniel and current Arizona Cardinal Blaine Gabbert.
Then, after the 2012 season, Yost called an audible and resigned, citing burnout.
Yost knew was a good coach, but with a wife and three children at home, his priorities had shifted. The schedule of a high-profile assistant coach — a 24/7 schedule and an all-emcompassing job — didn’t allow him time to be a good father and husband.
Months later, Washington State coach Mike Leach called and offered Yost a chance to both stay involved in football and take a step back.
Yost coached Wazzu’s inside receivers for three years, helping the Cougars offense put up big marks. WSU led the nation in passing offense in both 2014 and 2015.
Then, Yost said he got the itch to coach quarterbacks again. He spent one season on Mark Helfrich’s staff at Oregon.
Then, after Helfrich and his staff were fired, another call came in. Utah State needed an offensive coordinator. Yost accepted, with a vow that he’d use the work-life balance tools he learned from Leach and Helfrich.
Yost talked to the Star about his new lifestyle, and how his young quarterback, Jordan Love, is fairing at Utah State:
After leaving Missouri, you jumped right back into coaching. What was it about Washington State that seemed like the right next move?
A: “It was Mike Leach’s schedule. It fit family better. It was late night, so I could be with my family in the mornings. I needed to reorganize my life. It wasn’t good at Missouri. I wasn’t delegating. My wife and I talked about resigning after the 2011 season, but it took me a while to get there. I loved what I was doing and I was a good football coach, but it wasn’t the best for my kids and my wife, and my marriage.
“The job can be 24/7, but from Coach Leach I learned that it didn’t have to be that way. The guy in the office the latest doesn’t always win. My family knows now that when I have down time I’m not doing something for me, like going golfing. Now it’s being there for them. That’s how I set myself up.
“I’ve grown a lot as coach with a lot of great coaches around me. Gary Pinkel is a great coach who was very driven. When I was single, that was OK. Now, Leach showed me a different side. It’s the guy who does the most with what he has and does it efficiently. At Oregon, Helfrich made sure I kept my priorities straight. I was there for the kids’ soccer games and for my wife. It was a great opportunity to pick his brain as quarterbacks guy.”
Balance sounds much easier to do as an inside receivers coach or a quarterbacks coach. How does that work now that you are running the entire offense?
A: “Now, when I’m in the office, I go hard. I work hard, play hard. It’s the guy who gets the most out of his guys. I’m not as controlling as I used to be. I’m open to input and given the players more freedom.
“(Utah State) coach Matt Wells is about family. Today, it was my daughter’s 11th birthday and I had lunch with her and was back for our first practice for the bowl later. I did the same thing a week ago for my son’s ninth birthday. I go to church with my family every Sunday and have a lunch date with my wife every Monday during the season.
“I talk to the players about more than football. We talk about families and their girlfriends, etc. And I am more present with my family to them so they see it is important to me. They know my family and my wife makes cookies for them every Friday. They understand how I make it a priority. The job is important, yet when all is said and done, the biggest effect we have is on our family.”
You started the season with senior Kent Myers at quarterback and then switched to redshirt freshman Jordan Love. What do you see in the young quarterback and where does he fit the list of great ones you’ve coached?
A: “Jordan has made huge strides and has a lot of promise in him. I continue to see him get better. I’ve been lucky over my career to work with good quarterbacks. Jordan falls in line with Chris Wallace, Blaine Gabbert, and Chase Daniel. At Washington State and Oregon I was lucky to be around Luke Falk and Justin Herbert. They are talented.
“I always say that it’s the quarterback who makes the coach, not the coach who makes the quarterback. Jordan is more athletic than people give him credit for. He’s a big kid and grown into it. He’s gotten more confident as he’s progressed.
“I am excited to get him on the field at the Arizona Bowl—he looks spot-on in practice. I can’t wait to see what he’s got.”
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