POSTED ON JANUARY 19, 2011:
A Capable Head Coach and Slim, Rich Pickens
Stage Coach. Bill Blankenship was named TUís new head coach and inherits a top-25 program he has a long history with.
Congratulations to new University of Tulsa head coach Bill Blankenship. Relief would be the single best single to describe the hire.
The university gets a man familiar with the program's limitations. The head coach's long road to the ultimate job is fulfilled. Tulsa sports fans across the city feel they know the guy.
During his interview last Friday with Plank and Pop on the 1430-AM The Buzz, he said something that resonated with me. It was a throwaway comment likely missed by the majority. However, it was a brief look into the man leading our program into the future. He enjoys Diet Mountain Dew. I'm not sure if it is scientifically proven, but Diet Dew drinkers seem to be highly intelligent, creative individuals.
He inherits a top-25 program. In 1977 and 1979 he quarterbacked the Golden Hurricane. He patrolled the sidelines the past four years as an assistant coach. Of course he is most recognized for his 14-year run as head coach of Union High School. As director of athletics Bubba Cunningham repeated over and over, Blankenship is a leader.
"Bill Blankenship has the fundamental core values and principles to lead this team as he has done it his entire life," he said during the new coach's formal introduction.
The immediate reaction in fan-land was mixed. Half danced in the streets. It was symbolic. Blankenship's crowning achievement was a personal accomplishment for them.
Meanwhile the pessimists continue pessimating. "John Phillips 2.0!," they cried. There are similarities, but comparing two men in two different sports is a dangerous task. That would be like saying Eric Roberts' sister will fail in acting because of Frank Stallone.
"But if you had asked me four years ago are you ready to be the head coach of Tulsa, I would have told you I was, and I would have believed it with all my heart," Blankenship said.
"But I can tell you four years later having an opportunity to coach multiple positions, having an opportunity to coach special teams that allowed me to reach into defensive players and to offensive players and to have success in all those areas have reconfirmed to me what I needed to know and also what I believe in the way we do things.
"So I'm a much more confident college coach now than I was. I think I know much more about the internal workings and the differences in high school and college."
The plan is to run a similar offense. Expect a high-octane, fast-paced, up-tempo brand of football. He worked closely with Gus Malzahn and Chad Morris the past few years. If it ain't broken, don't fix it.
Visit tulsahurricane.com for schedule and ticket information. Coach Blankenship marched a high school team into H.A. Chapman Stadium and filled the seats, repeatedly. Will his magic carry over to TU ticket sales?
Hall of Shame
The Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame is named after legendary athlete Jim Thorpe. A statue of Thorpe stands at the entrance of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
It reads: "Jim Thorpe was named first team Walter Camp All American in 1911 and 1912. He won gold medals in the decathlon and pentathlon in the 1912 Olympics, played professional baseball and in 1920, was elected the first president of what became the National Football League. He was the first great performer of that league, its highest paid player, both the precursor and prototype of the weapons of modern football."
Howard Twilley, Bart Conner, Danny Hodge, Steve Largent and Wayman Tisdale are just a few of the standout performers our state produced over the years. We are lucky. Entering the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame is an honor. Or is it?
This year's inductees were overshadowed in Tulsa by the coaching search at TU. Six new members will be enshrined including John Starks, a noble addition.
However, the committee decided T. Boone Pickens was a deserving member of the sports hall of fame. His qualifications? Being rich.
So donating truck loads of money to your alma mater means you are hall of fame worthy?
I guess next year Bill Gates could send the National Football League a few armored trucks loaded full. Then we could hear his induction speech alongside Deion Sanders and Ed Sabol?
Mr. Pickens, did you ask for this honor? Was having a stadium named after you not enough of an ego boost?
Did the committee take a bribe? Did they add Pickens in an attempt to create controversy and gain attention? Did they hope for a large donation in return?
I cannot find any significant sports achievements worthy of his hall of fame status. Seems like more of the lame from the good old boys network. Nothing to see here -- move along.
For the record, I tried contacting the hall of fame for an explanation. My requests went unreturned. It is possible they committee was too busy at the time. More than likely, they had no good reason so declined to comment.
Maybe I'm alone. It is possible Tulsa sports fans are excited for Mr. Pickens inclusion.
I wonder how Jim Thorpe would feel?
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