Spring football is a terrific time for any program to stand out in a unique way, and it can serve as a terrific opportunity for any program to raise good relations in the media and with the fans. Yesterday we saw one of the best moments we may see in college football this calendar year when Nebraska let seven-year old pediatric cancer fighter Jack Hoffman run uncontested for a long touchdown during the Huskers' spring game.
Meanwhile in Tulsa, fans were invited fans to get a closer look at their program by honoring a legend, fan contests and interviews to break up the typical spring game atmosphere. And of course, spring game admission was free.
Prior to the game Tulsa unveiled a statue of Glenn Dobbs, a college football hall of fame player who played for Tulsa in the early 1940s before World War II, leading Tulsa to an undefeated season with All-American honors in 1942. A reported 1,200 fans showed up for the statue ceremony, many staking out a place to sit with lawn chairs. During the spring game itself Tulsa head coach Bill Blankenship would interview players for fans, giving a little more personality to the team's student athletes for the fans to see. At other times Tulsa invited kids to come out on to the field and take some reps, throw some passes and make some tackles and kick some field goals.
This is what we call community relations 101 for a college football program. And for Tulsa it is a nice way to reach out and maybe convert a couple young Sooner fans to become a fan of Tulsa instead, if not in addition to. And with Tulsa hoping to build momentum with the program as they prepare to transition form Conference USA to the American Athletic Conference, now is a great time to think outside the box in terms of fan relations.
"I thought today was good. We had kind of a dream and idea on how to try to engage our fans a little more, and get them closer to our players by bringing them on the field and interacting with them," said Blankenship.The laid-back atmosphere made for a low-pressure environment for the Tulsa players who have worked hard this spring, but Blankenship said a good effort shown at the final day of practice could lead to some positive results later on for those battling for roster spots and starting jobs.
"We pretty much had everything done before today," Blankenship said. We told some of the guys that were still trying to win a spot, that they wouldn't lose any credibility today, but you might gain some if you come out and compete. I'm anxious to watch the film. I thought we had some that did well," said Blankenship.
As for the game itself, Tulsa head coach Bill Blankenship seemed pleased with the effort shown by the Golden Hurricane.
"I thought we made great strides the first half of spring practice," said Blankenship. "The last week and a half or so was tough because we had to so narrow down what we were doing offensively because of injuries, that I'm not even sure we pushed the defense enough. The defense was really dominant the last week and a half of practice, and part of that was they're really a lot better, and then the offense was not giving them a good challenge."
Some quick notes…
- Jordan James caught three touchdown passes, including one in the overtime session. He had six catches for 63 yards.
- Cody Green completed 10 of 14 pass attempts for 80 yards and a pair of touchdowns to James. Dane Evans ended the afternoon going 4 for 5 for 47 yards and a touchdown.
- Try Watts was the leading rusher with 67 rushing yards on 10 carries and a touchdown. James Flanders added 40 yards on 15 rushes.
- Tulsa defense was led by linebacker Trent Martin with seven tackles. Jake Sizelove (love the name by the way) added five solo tackles. Linebackers Mitchell Osborne and Shawn Jackson and defensive end Chris Hummingbird (another fine name) all recorded sacks.
Quotes and stats via Tulsa Athletics.