TU coach Bill Blankenship keeps it close to home.
Bill Blankenship was named head coach for the University of Tulsa football team in January 2011. His first season at the helm, he led the Golden Hurricane to an 8-4 record and an appearance in the Armed Forces Bowl. Blankenship comes from a lineage of football coaches; his father, Gerald Blankenship, coached high school football in the small, eastern Oklahoma town of Spiro. He was inducted in 1972 into the Oklahoma Coaches Hall of Fame. Blankenship began his coaching career at Eastwood Christian School in Tulsa. He went on to coach at Sapulpa High School, Spiro High School, Edmond Memorial High School and Union High School, where he served as head coach for 14 years and led the Redskins football team to three 6A state titles. In 2006, he accepted a position with the TU Golden Hurricane as a receivers’ coach. In 2009, he was inducted into the Oklahoma Coaches Hall of Fame.
My dad was a high school football coach in the small town of Spiro, Okla. As I moved into junior high and high school, I became intrigued with my dad’s job. In Spiro, we lived in a house on the highway, and because it was easy access, there were always people stopping by to see my dad. They were grown men, sometimes they had been out of school 20 years, but they needed to see “Coach.” It was a great feeling to see the influence my dad had on them. I think that planted some seeds for me that really esteemed the coaching profession, even though when I went to college I had no intention of becoming a coach. After college, I got a call asking if I was interested in being the coach at a small, private school in Tulsa. Even though I wasn’t very successful, I fell in love with coaching.
Coaching at my alma mater (the University of Tulsa) is really special. One of our assistant coaches, Denver Johnson, was my roommate during part of my time at TU. We really hope that the experience our players have here is close to what we had because it was so great.
A lot of times, coaches say, “Play like a champion,” but I want our kids to live like champions. We emphasize a couple of key words: virtue and victory. Virtue is about learning to do the right thing at the right place in the right time. Victory is about doing things the right way. There are going to be a lot of highs and lows, but I try not to let the highs be too high or the lows too low. Even though experiences are trying to pull our emotions, as a leader I have to stabilize the environment. Our team has experienced a lot of lows – the death of three former teammates, having to dismiss players – but the highs, what happens in that locker room when the guys are pulling the rope in the same direction and experiencing success, is a very special moment.