Tulsa Alumnus Bill Blankenship Named Head Football Coach

COACHING GURU: Bill Blankenship, the former state championship coach of Union High School and University of Tulsa quarterback, is the new head coach of his alma mater.

photo: WALT BEAZLEY, University of Tulsa

Tulsa, Oklahoma –– The University of Tulsa named assistant coach and former Golden Hurricane quarterback Bill Blankenship as the 28th head football coach in school history, it was announced today by Tulsa Athletics Director Bubba Cunningham.

Blankenship completed his fourth season on the coaching staff in 2010. He returned to his alma mater in January 2007 to coach the wide receivers. In 2008, Blankenship was named special teams coordinator and in 2009 added the responsibilities of running backs coach as well.

Last year, Blankenship served as senior associate head coach, running backs coach and special teams coordinator.

“We’re tremendously excited to have Bill Blankenship as our head football coach. As a former TU student-athlete, a highly successful high school coach in Oklahoma and an experienced college assistant coach, Bill is exactly the leader that can move us to even greater success. His character, integrity and core values will provide outstanding leadership for our football team and The University of Tulsa,” said Cunningham.

“I’m ecstatic. This is a day I’ve dreamed about for a long time. There’s an old coaches quote that says ‘Luck is when preparation meets opportunity’. I feel like I’m prepared and have been prepared. Fortunately, the opportunity presented itself, and I’m excited to take what I think is a great program and help propel it to even greater heights,” said Blankenship. “I’m incredibly grateful for President Steadman Upham’s confidence in me. I was very impressed with the process that was led by Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham. The University of Tulsa is tremendously blessed to have these men leading our university.”

In his four seasons with the Golden Hurricane, Blankenship has been a part of 36 victories, two straight Conference West Division titles (2007, 2008), one shared C- Western Division crown (2010), two appearances in the C- Championship Game (2007, 2008), two Bowl Championships and the 2010 Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl Championship.

Blankenship has been a key member of an offensive coaching staff that has seen the Hurricane lead the nation in total offense two straight years, with an average of 543.9 yards in 2007 and an average of 569.9 yards in 2008. In 2007, Blankenship’s receiving corps had three players total more than 1,000 yards on the season (Brennan Marion, Trae Johnson and Charles Clay). This past season, Tulsa was once again among the national leaders in offense ranking fifth in total offense (505.6), sixth in scoring offense (41.3), 13th in passing offense (288.6) and 15th in rushing offense (216.9).

Blankenship headed up Tulsa’s special teams for the last three years, and nearly each area of special teams showed improvement each season. In 2010, Tulsa ranked first in punt return yardage defense, ninth in net punting, 10th in kickoff return yardage defense, 21st in punt returns and 48th in kickoff returns.

“Coach Graham has done a tremendous job with our program during his tenure. I look forward to achieving even greater success,” said Blankenship. “Todd gave me a great opportunity to become the special teams coordinator here. When you are an offensive coach, you only deal with offensive players, and when you are a defensive coach, you only deal with defensive players. Special Teams is very unique in that we really get to touch both offensive and defensive guys. We deal with practically everyone on the team from walk-ons to scholarship players. That’s my niche, that’s what I love. I don’t think there’s going to be a huge transition. Leadership is always the key and I feel real confident that the guys who have played for me know exactly what they’re going to get.”

After the 2008 campaign, Blankenship was recognized by the Oklahoma Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame with the “Merv Johnson Integrity in College Coaching Award.” He was inducted into the Oklahoma Coaches Association Hall of Fame in July 2009.

Before entering the collegiate coaching ranks, Blankenship spent 22 years as an Oklahoma High School coach. Blankenship resigned as the head football coach at Tulsa’s Union High School in December 2005 after leading his team to a second consecutive state championship at the Oklahoma Class 6A school.

As a head coach on the prep level, Blankenship compiled a 205-68 record, including an average of 10 wins per season for his last 20 years, appeared in the state championship game eight times and won three state titles.

He spent 14 years as the head football coach and athletic director at Union High School, where he registered a record of 154-26. His teams qualified for the state playoffs 14 times, reached the quarterfinals 10 times and made the semifinals in nine seasons. Blankenship’s teams made the state championship game seven times.

He guided his Union team to Oklahoma Class 6A state titles in 2002, 2004 and 2005. Blankenship’s teams at Union won eight straight district championships and had a 56-game home winning streak from 1997 through 2005.

Blankenship had more than 100 student-athletes receive college scholarships in his 14 seasons at Union High School.

Before moving to Union, Blankenship coached two seasons at Edmond Memorial High School and before that posted a 34-17 mark in four seasons at Spiro High School. He also coached at Sapulpa High School and Eastwood Christian School.

Blankenship credited a number of coaching influences in his life for this opportunity to coach the Tulsa Golden Hurricane.

“I think back to some defining moments in my career. I go back to F.A. Dry sitting in my living room in 1975 and giving me the chance to come to The University of Tulsa to be a quarterback. Later that month, Barry Switzer sat in my living room giving me the opportunity to go to Oklahoma. They ran the wishbone and he said they would let me be a quarterback, but that I would probably play defense. I respectfully declined because I wanted to play quarterback, and that has probably set this course in motion. I came here and I loved what I did,” said Blankenship. “There were a number of coaches that had tremendous influences on me, from F.A. Dry and Jerry Rhome, who was my first quarterbacks coach, to John Cooper, a Hall of Fame coach, and Larry Coker, who was my last quarterbacks coach here. I was raised in a coaches household. My dad was a high school hall of fame coach. L.D. Johnson, also a high school hall of fame coach, coached me in high school. When you start putting all the pieces together, you can tell that I was blessed with the good fortune of being impacted by some tremendous people in my life.”

Blankenship was a three-year letterman and quarterback at Tulsa during the 1975-79 seasons. After red-shirting in 1976, Blankenship was the starting Hurricane quarterback in 1977 and ’79. During his playing career, he threw for 2,113 yards and eight touchdowns. Blankenship earned a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1979, and received a master’s degree from Northeastern State in 1985.

He and his wife, Angie, have three sons, all three of whom played college football. Their oldest son, Josh, played quarterback at Tulsa before earning All-America honors at Eastern Washington University, and he is currently the head football coach at Muskogee (Okla.) High School. Caleb was an all-conference tight end at Tulsa, while their youngest son, Adam, played at Illinois State.


Birthdate: December 12, 1956
Birthplace: Spiro, Oklahoma
Family: wife Angie; grown sons Josh, Caleb and Adam

Education: Biology degree at The University of Tulsa (1979); Master’s degree at Northeastern State (1985)

The University of Tulsa (Quarterback),1975-79. Red-shirted in 1976. Was the starting quarterback in 1977 and 1979.

1976 Independence Bowl (Tulsa)


2008 Bowl (Tulsa)
2009 Bowl (Tulsa)
2010 Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl (Tulsa)

Updated 01-14-2011

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