College football: Teacher Larry Coker and pupil Bill Blankenship will match minds in November

Bill Blankenship's Tulsa Golden Hurricane host Larry Coker's Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners on Nov. 2 at TU's Chapman Stadium. It's not their first intersection.
by Berry Tramel Modified: July 25, 2013 at 12:00 pm •  Published: July 24, 2013
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photo - Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship, left, and UTSA coach Larry Coker.  Photos by Tom Gilbert, Tulsa World and The Associated Press
Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship, left, and UTSA coach Larry Coker. Photos by Tom Gilbert, Tulsa World and The Associated Press

IRVING, Texas — Larry Coker remembers Bill Blankenship as smart. Tough. A team guy. Well-respected.

Blankenship remembers Coker as a teacher. Patient. Humble. A leader.

Here's what makes this such a good story. Neither has changed much since the halcyon days of 1979.

Blankenship's Tulsa Golden Hurricane host Larry Coker's Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners on Nov. 2 at TU's Chapman Stadium.

It's not their first intersection.

Thirty-four years ago, Blankenship's final college season as a player and Coker's first as a college coach, they rendezvoused with TU football.

Coker was John Cooper's quarterback coach. Blankenship was Coker's quarterback.

Make a list of the classiest coaches in our state's football history, the most-respected and well-liked. No matter how exclusive your list, Blankenship and Coker likely are to make the cut.

“I think I'm a better coach today because I played for Larry Coker,” Blankenship said.

They are sons of Oklahoma. Grew up in the eastern Oklahoma towns of Okemah (Coker) and Spiro (Blankenship). Coached multiple state high school champions (Coker two at Fairfax, Blankenship three at Tulsa Union). Spent that solitary season at TU, when Blankenship started six games and the Hurricane went 6-5.

And now they again share a field, for one solitary game. Texas-San Antonio is just coming into Conference USA, Tulsa is just going out. TU heads to the American Athletic Conference in 2014.

Tulsa will be a heavy favorite — TU is picked to win C-USA's West Division; the Roadrunners, in just their third year of football, are picked last among seven teams.

“I'm a little fearful of it, tell you the truth,” Blankenship said Wednesday during Conference USA Media Day. “He's forgotten a lot more football than I'll ever know.

“Hopefully, we get ahold of them before they get the program built completely, because he's got that thing going in the right way.”


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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