Bill Haisten: On A Florida Beach, Does Bill Blankenship Decide To Coach Or Retire? – Tulsa World

Bill Haisten: On a Florida beach, does Bill Blankenship decide to coach or retire?

Pictured while talking with officials before the start of an October home game, Bill Blankenship has a five-season Owasso record of 52-10 and two state championships. 

Mike Simons, Tulsa World Lewis witnessed 22 games in a three-day span. Here’s the breakdown of what he saw

On Friday night, Angie and Bill Blankenship hosted all 13 of their grandchildren — ranging in age from 12 years to 18 months — for a New Year’s Eve party and sleepover.

Activities included dinner, a dance party, a hot tub session in the rain, bingo and a movie. At 11:30, there were ice cream sundaes for everyone. At midnight, for the older kids who were still awake for the finish line of 2021, there were noisemakers, fireworks and bubbles.

On Sunday night, Angie and Bill Blankenship continued the process of recovering from Friday night.

Bill had been somewhat aware of the Sunday NFL games and intently aware of several episodes of Kevin Costner’s television series. The Blankenships binged on “Yellowstone.”

When Bill Blankenship accepted the Owasso head-coaching position in 2017, there was the expectation that it would be a three-year marriage. His 2017 and 2019 Rams were Class 6AI champions. There was a fourth season in 2020 and a fifth in 2021 (which ended with a 41-40 playoff loss to the Broken Arrow Tigers, who had been crushed 42-3 at Owasso in September).

Will there be a sixth season for Blankenship? Three weeks ago, there was a milestone birthday — his 65th.

“Yes,” he says, “the Tulsa World published (a slideshow) about it. Being able to sign up for Medicare — that can wake your world up a little bit.”

While he occasionally is asked about the possibility of retirement, Blankenship hadn’t been asked about it since he turned 65.

“The honest answer is, I just really don’t know,” said Blankenship, whose Owasso record is 52-10. “We’re moving that way (toward staying with the Rams) until such time when I feel differently about it.

“I promised Angie from the very beginning that we were going to have a vacation, spend time and come back with a plan. We’re just trying to get a little more clarity about it, whether (retirement) is now or later.”

That vacation starts in a few days and involves “a beach somewhere in Florida,” Blankenship explained. During his run in Owasso, a winter getaway has become an annual thing.

“We have a new superintendent (Dr. Margaret Coates),” Blankenship said. “She’s an interim, but we have a transition in our leadership, so we’ve got to talk about all of that. Not so much about my job, but how does this affect (the football program) moving forward?

“I want to leave this place really good. Not just hand off the baton. If we put this kind of effort and time into this, we want to ensure that there’s success moving forward. This is about more than just me.”

Blankenship left Union after a Class 6A championship in 2005 and left Fayetteville after an Arkansas state championship in 2016. He coached the Fayetteville Bulldogs for only one season before accepting Owasso athletic director Zach Duffield’s pitch to build a championship situation with the Rams.

If Blankenship is with the Rams in 2022, it would be his 39th season of coaching and his 33rd as a head coach and offensive play-caller.

Any coach’s exit preference would be to retire after a title season.

“That would be storybook. I think it took me 20 years to get the first one,” said Blankenship, who celebrated his first state title in 2002 — his 20th season of coaching and his 11th as the Union head man.

In Owasso, Blankenship has beautiful facilities and a winning culture. The only negative, he says, has nothing to do with Owasso. It has everything to do with competing each year against his son — Broken Arrow coach Josh Blankenship.

Bill expected it to be stressful for himself and especially for Angie (who refused to attend either of the Owasso-Broken Arrow games in 2021). The reality, Bill says, is that it’s more difficult than he had envisioned.

After Josh was hired by Broken Arrow one year ago this week, he and two new assistant coaches resided at Angie and Bill’s Bixby home for four months. While their children finished the school year elsewhere, and while their new-home processes were ongoing, the Broken Arrow coaches were welcomed into the home of a rival school’s head coach.

The Blankenships enjoyed their extended-stay reunion with Josh and their new friendships with his assistants. What they didn’t enjoy in the least was the Bill vs. Josh game dynamic.

While lounging on a Florida beach, 65-year-old Bill Blankenship and his wife will decide whether he continues to coach in spite of the annual Josh game — or retires because of it.

Happy birthday to football coach Bill Blankenship: Take a look back at his career The Blankenships 2

Union head coach Bill and his son Josh Blankenship pose for a photo at Union-Tuttle Stadium on Oct. 14, 1997. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World file

Mike Simons Bill Blankenship

Bill Blankenship played quarterback at the University of Tulsa from 1975-79. COURTESY

TOM GILBERT Fuente signing day

Sharing a special moment on National Signing Day with OU recruit Justin Fuente were his parents, Lynn and Jim Fuente, and Union High School representatives (standing from left) Dave Stauffer, Benny Dixon and coach Bill Blankenship in February 1995. Fuente is now the head football coach at Virginia Tech. COURTESY

Tulsa World file Bill Blankenship

Bill Blankenship was a Spiro High School quarterback in the early 1970s. COURTESY

TOM GILBERT Bill Blankenship

Bill Blankenship with his son Josh and wife Angie. COURTESY

TOM GILBERT Bill Blankenship

Union football coach Bill Blankenship tries to motovate his team with a halftime pep talk at Union’s first home game against Edmond North on Oct. 2, 2002. Tulsa World file

Evan Semon 6A Finals Broken Arrow Union

Union coach Bill Blankenship and his son Adam, with Ryan Brown, celebrates their victory over Broken Arrow in the 6A finals on Dec. 6, 2002. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World file

stephen pingry Broken Arrow/UNION

Union football coach Bill Blankenship celebrates his team’s final touchdown that sealed their victory against Broken Arrow in Broken Arrow on Sept. 6, 2002. Union defeated Broken Arrow, 45-28. Tulsa World file

Stephen Holman Allan Trimble

Jenks football coach Allan Trimble (left) and Union football coach Bill Blankenship pose above Skelly Stadium in 2004. Tulsa World File

6A Championship Union Football

Union coach Bill Blankenship reacts to being dunked with cold water by his players in the closing seconds of Union’s 33-7 victory over Mustang in the Class 6A championship game at Owen Field in Norman on Dec. 2, 2005. Tulsa World file


Photo of Jenks’ Allan Trimble and Union’s Bill Blankenship for the annual Tulsa World high school football preview section. Tulsa World file

KELLY KERR Allan Trimble

Jenks’ Allan Trimble shakes hands with Union’s Bill Blankenship after the 6A state championship game at Skelly Stadium in 1999. Tulsa World file

Blankenship — hired at TU

Bill Blankenship speaks after being announced the new TU head football coach on Jan 14, 2011. TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World file


Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship is greated by fan Charley North as he arrives for their football game against Oklahoma on Sept. 14, 2013. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World file


OU coach Bob Stoops and TU coach Bill Blankenship shake hands after the OU-Tulsa game on Sept 6, 2014. OU won 52-7 TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World file

Tom Gilbert Liberty Bowl

Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship receives the Liberty Bowl trophy after the Hurricane defeated Iowa State 31-17 on Dec. 31, 2012. TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World file

Tom Gilbert North Texas v TULSA

TU senior Stetson Burnett with coach Bill Blankenship before the North Texas-Tulsa football game at Chapman Stadium on Nov. 30, 2012. TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World

Tom Gilbert UCF v TU Championship

TU’s Trey Watts and head coach Bill Blankenship celebrate after Watts is given the MVP award by C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky after Tulsa’s 33-27 overtime win against UCF in the C-USA championship game at Chapman Stadium on Dec. 1,  2012. TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World file

Tom Gilbert DRILLERS

Bill Blankenship, head football coach at the University of Tulsa, throws out an opening pitch on behalf of his team before the Tulsa Drillers home opener against San Antonio at ONEOK Field on April 11, 2013. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World file

Cory Young Walk on scholarship

University of Tulsa defensive back Jonathan Chavira is congratulated by head coach Bill Blankenship after it was announced that he will receive a scholarship on Aug. 7, 2013 after football practice. TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World file

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Tulsa football coach Bill Blankenship reacts during the first half of the Texas State-Tulsa game. TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World file

OKtul Memphis v Tulsa

Injured TU receiver Keevan Lucas speaks with Bill Blankenship before the first half of the Memphis-Tulsa game on Oct. 23, 2015. TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World file

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Tulsa’s Bill Blankenship coaches against East Carolina on Nov. 28, 2014. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World file

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Former TU head coach Bill Blankenship walks away from a press conference on the University of Tulsa campus on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. Bill Blankenship, the school’s football coach was fired on Monday morning. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World

OKtul Blankenship

Bill Blankenship directs players at a B.T. Washington practice. The former TU and Union coach worked with BTW players last spring as a volunteer coach. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World file

Matt Barnard Blankenship

Bill Blankenship, a former University of Tulsa and Union High School football coach, talks with Booker T. Washington High School player Phillip Wheatley. Blankenship worked with BTW players last spring as a volunteer coach. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World file

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During a Friday news conference at Owasso Wellness Center, Bill Blankenship is introduced as the Rams’ new head football coach. BILL HAISTEN/Tulsa World

7-on-7 football

Owasso Football Coach, Bill Blankenship, talks to his team after a game during the Comet Clash 7-on-7 football tournament on Saturday June 24, 2017. JESSIE WARDARSKI/ Tulsa World


Owasso Coach Bill Blankenship and others celebrate their state championship win over Union at H.A. Chapman Stadium on the campus to the University of Tulsa Dec.1 , 2017. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

MIKE SIMONS All World Awards

Bill Blankenship, Owasso High School football coach, accepts the Sunshine Furniture Boys Coach of the Year award from Barry Lewis, during the 2018 All-World Awards banquet at the Marriott Southern Hills in Tulsa on Saturday, June 23, 2018. IAN MAULE/Tulsa World


Owasso coach Bill Blankenship talks to his team in the locker room after defeating Broken Arrow in their 6AI semifinal football game in Jenks Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. MIKE SIMONS


Owasso Coach Bill Blankenship is doused with water after defeating Jenks in the 6AI championship football game at Wantland Stadium at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World


Owasso Coach Bill Blankenship celebrates with his team and the gold ball trophy after defeating Jenks in the 6AI championship football game at Wantland Stadium at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

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Pictured while talking with officials before the start of an October home game, Bill Blankenship has a five-season Owasso record of 52-10 and two state championships.