TU's Bill Blankenship voted C-USA coach of the year
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Thursday, December 06, 2012
12/06/12 at 3:28 AM
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In 2002, for having led Union to a 14-0 season and the first of what would become his run of three state titles in four years, Bill Blankenship was named the Tulsa World's state high school football coach of the year.
Ten years later, there's a similar distinction at a higher level.
For having led the University of Tulsa to a 10-3 record and the 2012 Conference USA championship, Blankenship was voted the league's coach of the year. Votes were submitted by conference coaches.
This is the first time in eight seasons of TU's C-USA membership that a Golden Hurricane coach has been so honored. Blankenship becomes the seventh TU head man to be voted a conference coach of the year. Having previously garnered such distinction was Steve Kragthorpe in 2003 (Western Athletic Conference). In the Missouri Valley Conference, coach-of-the-year awards went to John Cooper (1982), F.A. Dry (1974, 1975, 1976), Glenn Dobbs (1962), Bobby Dobbs (1959) and Buddy Brothers (1951).
Voted the Conference USA most valuable player was Marshall sophomore quarterback Rakeem Cato - the first underclassman to win the award. Cato leads all Football Bowl Subdivision quarterbacks in pass completions (406) and passing yards (4,201). The offensive player of the year is SMU senior running back Zach Line, who for the third consecutive season rushed for at least 1,000 yards. Line led the conference this season with 1,207 yards.
TU senior linebacker DeAundre Brown was considered a strong candidate for the defensive player of the year award, but it went to Central Florida defensive back Kemal Ishmael.
Through two seasons as the Tulsa head coach, Blankenship's records are 18-8 overall and 14-2 in Conference USA. TU reached the 10-win level for the ninth time in program history. With last week's 33-27 overtime victory over Central Florida in the C-USA championship game, TU secured a berth in the Dec. 31 Liberty Bowl at Memphis, Tenn. In a rematch of the Sept. 1 season opener, the Hurricane faces Iowa State. The Cyclones defeated TU 38-23.
The 2012 Hurricane is driven by a combination of defense and a dynamic ground game. TU leads Conference USA in total defense and rushing defense. In league play, TU rushed for an average of 264 yards per game - 66 yards per game better than the league's next-best ground-game team (Central Florida).
While the Tulsa defense totaled a program-record total of 48 sacks, the Hurricane offensive line allowed only nine.
Vs. Iowa State
At Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, Tenn.
2:30 p.m. Dec. 31
Radio: KRMG am740, fm102.3
Original Print Headline: Blankenship honored as top coach in C-USA
Bill Haisten 918-581-8397
TU head coach Bill Blankenship was named the Conference USA coach of the year Wednesday. TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World