Blankenship hires son, promotes Denver Johnson to Tulsa OC

January 30, 2014

The Blankenship family is drawing some criticism due to recent staff changes by Coach Bill Blankenship at The University of Tulsa.

Bill Blankenship has hired former Golden Hurricane quarterback Josh Blankenship as quarterback coach.

That hiring came in the wake of a disappointing 3-9 season and the firing of Offensive Coordinator/Wide Receiver Coach Greg Peterson.

The eldest of Bill Blankenship’s three sons, Josh Blankenship has spent the past three seasons as the head football coach at Muskogee High School, inheriting a team with less than 40 players and building the roster to over 100 players. He also served the school in the capacities of acting athletic director and assistant athletic director.

Before his time at Muskogee, Josh Blankenship spent a total of seven years as the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach at Tulsa’s Union High School, where he was a part of five state championships. He coached at Union in the 2003-05 seasons and again during the 2007-10 campaigns. The Blankenships have had a history of success coaching together. In 2004 and 2005, Josh coordinated the offense for his father’s final two state championship teams.

“Take out of the equation that he’s my son, Josh is an excellent quarterback coach and will be a tremendous asset as he develops an extremely young group of quarterbacks for us,” said Bill Blankenship. “He has a wide wealth of experiences as a quarterback under some outstanding offensive coaches (Norv Turner, Timm Rosenbach, Rockey Felker and Dave Rader). He has learned the nuances of the quarterback position and has a great understanding of offensive football. Obviously, I have the utmost confidence and trust in Josh that the quarterback position is in very good hands.”

Josh Blankenship originally signed with The University of Tulsa in 1999 and quarterbacked the Golden Hurricane for three seasons (1999-2001) before transferring to Eastern Washington to complete his collegiate career.

At Tulsa, Josh Blankenship threw for 5,273 yards and 21 touchdowns in his three seasons. In the 2002 season at Eastern Washington, he threw for 3,243 yards, 294.8 yards per game and 30 TDs with a passing efficiency of 145.3. Blankenship earned second-team All-America honors by Football Gazette and was the 2002 Big Sky Conference Offensive MVP. He had a career-high 426-yard passing game against Western Oregon.

Blankenship spent the 2003 summer and NFL training camp with the Miami Dolphins under the tutelage of Norv Turner.

He also played for the Austin Wranglers of the AFL in 2004 as well as with the Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL later that same year. Blankenship also played with the Tulsa Talons, Memphis Explorers and Stockton Lightning of the AF2 between 2005 and 2007.

Peterson spent three seasons as offensive coordinator and wide receiver coach. He came to Tulsa after spending the 2010 season as the offensive coordinator at Northern Colorado. Peterson has also coached at Colorado State, Washington State, Kansas State and Nebraska Wesleyan.

“I appreciate the dedication that Greg has given to our football program the past three years, but I thought it was best to make a change. Greg is one of the finest individuals you’ll ever meet. We wish him and his family the very best,” said Bill Blankenship.

Bill Blankenship announced that Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Line Coach Denver Johnson will add the responsibility of offensive coordinator for the Golden Hurricane.

Blankenship also indicated that Dan Bitson moves from running back coach to receiver coach and David Johnson will serve as running back coach.

Johnson is in his fourth season with the Hurricane, coming from Colorado where he spent two seasons as the offensive line coach.

At Tulsa, Johnson has had five offensive linemen earn all-conference honors and has seen a Tulsa offense rank among the nation’s best for fewest quarterback sacks and TFLs over the last two seasons.

A 1981 Tulsa graduate, Johnson spent 12 years as a head football coach, including three years at Murray State (1997-99) and nine years at Illinois State (2000-08), compiling an overall 69-66 career coaching mark.

Johnson also served as the offensive line coach at Tennessee Martin, Oklahoma State, Mississippi State and Oklahoma.

“Certainly, Denver has vast offensive experience and knowledge in his many years as an offensive coach and head coach,” said Blankenship. “I am extremely comfortable with Denver’s philosophy and his leadership.”

Bitson was an All-America receiver for the Golden Hurricane in 1988 and 1989. He returned for his second coaching stint with the Hurricane prior to the 2012 campaign. In two seasons, Tulsa running backs have rushed for 4,796 yards and 49 touchdowns, while Trey Watts earned first-team all-Conference USA honors in 2013.

Bitson came to Tulsa after three years as the head coach at Tulsa’s McLain High School. His collegiate coaching experience included stints at Auburn, Kentucky, Lincoln (Mo.) University and Northwestern (La.) State. He also coached at Trinity Valley Community College after graduating from Tulsa in 1991.

David Johnson returned to Tulsa last year as a graduate assistant coach. He was the starting quarterback for the Hurricane in 2008 as a senior, throwing for 4,059 yards and 46 touchdowns in 14 games.