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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

It's a little bit of a reunion season for Coker, who was fired by Miami in 2006 despite a 60-15 record and the 2001 national title. UTSA also plays Oklahoma State, coached by Mike Gundy, Coker's quarterback at OSU in 1986-89.

“It is a little odd,” Coker said. “It's kind of a pleasure. It's going to be tough, I know, Bill's got a great team coming back.”

Blankenship returned to his alma mater as a coach in 2007. He became head coach in 2011 and is 19-8 in two seasons, with a Conference USA title last season.

“Bill was extremely smart,” Coker said of Blankenship the player. “An outstanding student of the game. One of those guys, he was tough, he was smart, he was a team guy.

“Really had a lot of respect. Which I think he does now. He made his teammates better. Now, he wasn't fast. Coach Cooper went to the veer when Bill came in, and that wasn't his best offense. But Bill was an outstanding competitor.”

Blankenship on Coker: “I was a pup, and I guess he was a pup, when he was coaching me.

“He was a great teacher. He was very patient. I was a fifth-year senior, he was a first year coaching us. He was not too proud to ask questions of the veteran players and say, ‘well, how did you do this last year?' But he didn't back away from leadership. I just really valued being able to play under him.”

And now Blankenship coaches against Coker in what some will see as a routine Conference USA game, but others will know as a game of Oklahoma coaching pride.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

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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