Coaching Changes Didn’t Overturn Tulsa Recruiting

Thursday, May 26th 2011, 12:11 pm
By: News On 6

Originally Published: Feb 3, 2011 5:18 PM CDT

Bobby Lewis
Oklahoma Sports Reporter

TULSA, Oklahoma – Coaching changes happen. You’d like them, however, to come at a more convenient time than it did for the Tulsa Golden Hurricane.

Todd Graham split for Pitt in mid-January, leaving Tulsa just 22 days to 1) hire a coach, and 2) convince recruits that Tulsa was still a desirable location for succeed on the gridiron.

Check. And, check.

The Golden Hurricane promoted Bill Blankenship and he came through big time, signing 21 players on National Signing Day, including four who are ranked in the top 50 at their respective positions nationally by ESPN.

In the end, the mass staff departures didn’t deter future ‘Canes.

“I think every young man and his family certainly goes through the uneasiness and real queasiness any time there is a coaching change,” Blankenship said in a phone interview from his snowed-in office. “It’s a normal process that these guys go through.”

With less than a month to convince kids to stay on board with the core philosophies that may have attracted them to Tulsa in the first place, Blankenship gave a lot of the recruiting credit to his freshly appointed assistant coaches.

“Fortunately, we were able to put together a really good staff to walk through (the coaching changes) with them and to get those folks on campus,” he said.

“In the situations where they’d already been on campus, we went to sit with them in their homes and that let us really get a chance for those families to get to know us well.”

The Golden Hurricane has 23 new players on the roster now with signed official letters of intent. Many kids were solid throughout the process. Some of them wavered when Graham left for the Big East.

Keeping recruits confident in the future was key for Blankenship.

“‘How does that impact me? How does that impact the offer that’s been sent my way and how does that impact the future of that program?’” Blankenship asked himself out loud, putting himself in the shoes of a student. “It’s important to us to get the best players in Tulsa and the best players in Oklahoma.

“We want to get impact players.”

Spring drills begin in early March and lead up to the team’s annual Spring Game on April 16th.