Over the past 11 years, multiple coaches for the Tulsa Golden Hurricane have been known as offensive innovators.
Steve Kragthorpe, Todd Graham, Gus Malzahn and Chad Morris all served head coaches or offensive coordinators within that time frame. Those names are among the most brilliant offensive minds in college football.
Tulsa is prepared to add another one as its next head coach.
The university announced Thursday that Baylor offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery will replace Bill Blankenship, who was fired on Dec. 1, and take over the Golden Hurricane program.
“We are extremely pleased to have Philip Montgomery as our head football coach,” Tulsa athletic director Derrick Gragg said in statement. “Coach Montgomery has outstanding background as a collegiate coach and recruiter. He is one of the bright offensive minds in college football and has coordinated explosive offenses at both Houston and Baylor.”
Montgomery spent the last seven seasons in Waco, Texas, as Baylor’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach calling plays for the nation’s most explosive offense. The Bears led college football in total offense each of the last two seasons. In 2013, Montgomery was named a finalist for the Broyles Awards as the nation’s top assistant coach.
Montgomery’s relationship with Baylor head coach Art Briles extended to Stephenville High School (Texas) where they combined to win two state championships. Montgomery spent 16 seasons as an assistant to Briles.
“I am truly honored to be the next head coach at the University of Tulsa,” Montgomery said. “I want to thank President Upham, Derrick Gragg and the Board of Trustees for this special opportunity. I was fortunate to be in a great position working with Coach Briles and the wonderful people at Baylor. I’ve always wanted to be a head coach, but my family and I knew that it would take the right opportunity to get me to leave Waco. Tulsa is that special opportunity. There is a lot of work to get done and trust me, I’m already on it. Get ready for some fun, fast and physical football.”
(Picture courtesy of Baylor’s athletic department)
As the Tulsa Golden Hurricane prepares for Friday’s contest against the East Carolina Pirates, it may be the last time head coach Bill Blankenship leads the team unto the field.
Conflicting reports surfaced earlier in the evening regarding Blankenship’s future with the program.
FOX Sports’ Bruce Feldman originally reported Blankenship will be dismissed after tonight’s game. However, the Tulsa World‘s John Hoover spoke with Tulsa University president Steadman Upham, who claimed a decision hasn’t been made. Hoover admitted the dismissal is still expected, though.
The Golden Hurricane is 2-9 this season and currently in ninth place during the program’s first season as part of the American Athletic Conference.
During Blankenship’s tenure, the team fell apart during the past two seasons. Last year’s 3-9 served as a precursor to the current disappointing campaign. Blankenship is 24-26 overall entering tonight’s game.
However, expectations were raised in Tulsa due to the success of the coaches that immediately predated Blankenship. From 2003-10, the Golden Hurricane was 64-39 overall under the direction of Steve Kragthorpe and then Todd Graham.
Both coaches went on to accept higher-profile jobs before the reins were eventually handed to Blankenship, a former Tulsa quarterback who never coached at any level above the high school ranks before being named an assistant coach under Graham.
During two non-competitive seasons, a program that was previously known for producing great offensive football and served as a hotbed for the next top name in coaching circles devolved under Blankenship’s direction.
Upham may be waiting to make his decision, but it’s clear which direction he should be leaning.
The UCF Knights remained in the race to win an American Athletic Conference crown with a 31-7 victory over Tulsa Friday.
UCF is now 4-1 in conference play and tied with the Memphis Tigers and Cincinnati Bearcats. This is especially important since all three teams are jockeying to become the representative from the “Group of Five” conferences not included in the College Football Playoff discussion to earn a berth in a New Year’s bowl game.
Tie-breakers will likely decide which team will win the conference since UCF doesn’t play either Memphis or Cincinnati this season.
Friday’s contest became a statement game for quarterback Justin Holman. The sophomore signal-caller has been maddeningly inconsistent this season as evidenced by a four-interception performance in a loss to the Connecticut Huskies last week. UCF head coach George O’Leary challenged him this week to step up his play, and the quarterback did so in impressive fashion.
Even with dealing with a shoulder injury that sent him to the locker room for a short time, Holman set a career-high with three passing touchdowns. The quarterback finished the contest 16-of-27 passing for 291 yards.
Senior Josh Reese was Holman’s top target. The experienced wide receiver caught four passes for 104 yards. Meanwhile, sophomore running back Dontravious Wilson averaged 5.1 yards per carry for 87 yards as the team’s top rusher.
It was also an important victory for O’Leary.
Among rumors of retirement this season, O’Leary continues to put a successful program on the field. One that has a chance to win a second consecutive American Athletic Conference title.