At 42, David Yost was at the top of his profession. Three times in six years, he'd sent a Missouri quarterback to the NFL. As the Tigers' offensive coordinator he was admired and imitated for his innovative play calling. His boss, Gary Pinkel, rightly kept throwing more titles, responsibility and salary his way.
A year ago this week, Yost was the driving force behind Mizzou landing the nation's No. 1 recruit, Dorial Green-Beckham. Life was good. Then, suddenly, it wasn't. At an age when assistants are aggressively carving out a career path, Yost altered his. He quit Dec. 3 after 12 years at Missouri and 17 years with Pinkel.
Quit cold turkey.
“I'd just gotten tired,” Yost said in his first interview since stepping down. “I didn't want to do it anymore.”
Too much time in the office, too much time away from his family, too many hats. Yost finished 2012, Mizzou's first season in the SEC, wearing four of them: assistant head coach, recruiting coordinator, quarterbacks coach and OC. Those close to him mentioned Yost looked thinner. There were bags under his eyes.
The youthful look that was more surfer than coach was fading. It apparently had nothing to do with a disappointing 5-7 debut in the SEC. It had everything to do with a lifestyle change.
“I always loved my job, looked forward to it,” Yost said. “It got to a point where I didn't love my job.”
When her husband made the decision, wife Carrie was all in for a change, said they could live on a budget. She promised to get a job if it came to that to support a family that had grown with three kids -- Kennedy, Keaton and Kamden. Friends and acquaintances were caught somewhere between wonder and praise for the coach's decision.
The consensus Yost got was, “I was impressed you were able to step away instead of kind of grinding through it.”
With another national signing day upon us, it is worth reflecting on the casualties. Yost was one of them. His unique wooing of Green-Beckham allowed Missouri to snag the school's first No. 1 recruit. DGB, as they call him, had a relationship with Yost since coming to Missouri camps as a grade schooler.
During the player's visit, banners were hung over overpasses welcoming him on the drive to Columbia from Springfield, Mo. Yost found a way to make the prospect's favorite food, fried sushi. Pinkel made an impression, flying in for a school visit in a helicopter.
“All of it to make him feel special,” said Yost who will wake up Wednesday helping land his first class at Washington State.
The plan all along was to sit out a year. Money wasn't really an issue. Missouri had paid him well. Then one day Mike Leach called, wanted to talk about an opening he had for an inside receivers coach. They met and talked as only Leach can.
Yost traveled to Leach's home in Key West, Fla. Dick Vermeil sat with them at breakfast. After hanging out at Leach's house for the afternoon, they talked some more. Then Leach, his wife Sharon and Yost went out to dinner. Leach needed an offensive assistant. Yost needed a change.
“When I was single, I coached. I was an office rat. I was good. It was great,” Yost explained. “Over time you get married. You have your first, your second, your third child. When I moved to [offensive] coordinator I didn't do a good enough job delegating off things.”
At Wazzu, he wears just one of those hats with the receivers. Turns out the two men always admired each other. Mizzou had handled Leach's Texas Tech for the most part in the Big 12. Yost began reading Leach's book “Swing Your Sword” to get an idea for the philosophy.
No coaching the quarterbacks, no coordinating the offense. No fried sushi. Yost still has to stop himself from doing too much, doing more in a job that is designed for a workaholic to do less.
“I'm working right now to make sure I don't get in a heavy workload,” he said. “When my family gets here I want to make sure I have time for them. It gives me a chance to kind of reinvent myself.”
More about David Yost
Born: Carrollton, Ohio
Notable achievements: 17 years with Gary Pinkel at both Missouri and Toledo … Missouri offensive coordinator since 2009 … Oversaw the development of quarterbacks Brad Smith, Chase Daniel and Blaine Gabbert, all of whom play in the NFL … Eight all-Big 12 offensive or special teams players on his watch … In 2011, Mizzou led the Big 12 and was ninth nationally in rushing.
CBSSports.com: Describe the process in getting together with Mike Leach.
Yost: “I'd just gotten tired [at Missouri]. I didn't want to do it anymore. [I thought] ‘I'll find something else. I'll enjoy it. Spend time with my family.' I did not plan on coaching this fall. Coach Leach called. When my phone said “Mike Leach” it intrigued me because of what he did offensively. I was a big fan.
“My wife could see it got me excited. She said, ‘Yup.' She was all in. We had talked on the phone one time after he left Texas Tech. What they do and how they do it is different. He texted back, ‘Why don't you come to Key West we'll have a lot more fun.' “
CBSSports.com: Any chance you could have backed off at Missouri instead of stepping down?
Yost: "No, because I think of how the dynamics of how things work. I think we cold have said it was going to happen [but] it wouldn't. I catch myself doing the same thing here. You think about things that way. I catch myself [thinking at Washington State], 'Nope, they know what they're doing. They do a good job.' "
CBSSports.com: Tell me if I'm wrong. You looked physically worn at the end of the season. You looked like you lost weight and had bags under your eyes.
Yost: "I had lost weight but I had been working on doing that. I do work long hours. I do get bags under my eyes. They [media] commented on how my hair used to be silkier. It was flat. It wears on you. We weren't as good as I wanted it to be. I was kind of tired of it. It's not a job it's a lifestyle.”