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November 28, 2014

Bill Blankenship

East Carolina – 49
Tulsa - 32

BILL BLANKENSHIP:  [] the seniors that played their last game tonight, we had a little bit of a senior moment.  At different times, people [] picked up an interception, played all over the place.  Davis Walton had a really good game.  I know [] you root for guys to go out fighting and swinging, and I thought he did.  I thought we stood in there [] I think he's one of the best in college football right now, he and Justin Hardy and that crew, but I think that we have got some young ones that have a chance to be like those guys.
Again, hats off to Ruffin, class act, and again, we'll move forward.  Questions?

Q.  What was going through your mind as you were walking off the field there?
BILL BLANKENSHIP:  Mainly just looking for some of those players that I wanted to congratulate.  I don't usually get to see a lot of the opponent players after we meet with the head coach because they kind of go past me, but I thought it was important to find Justin and Shane and congratulate them because I've competed against them really all the way through, kind of watching them grow into being good players.  I just wanted to find all of our seniors.  Those are just special moments.
It didn't end the way we wanted it to, but I thought, again, we went out on a good note in the sense of what we felt like what was important was to play til the end.  We talked about this three and four weeks ago, that we wanted to be able to look in the mirror and said we never gave in.  This group never quit, never gave in.  You could not accuse them of that.  Again, I was in a pretty good place with that.

Q.  As you reflect over the last two years, what would be your evaluation as to why this team only won five games over a two‑season period?
BILL BLANKENSHIP:  It's hard now not to sound like excuses, and I'm not a big believer in excuses.  We're a very young football team.  We had a pretty significant void in the last two senior classes in terms of numbers, and it's been tough to rebuild that.  We were very fortunate to‑‑ there's two seniors this year that were in the first class, the transition class when we signed, and then we've honestly fought‑‑ I've never had as many injuries in the last two seasons as what we've had.  It's just been‑‑ would we have done better without it?  I don't know, I just always was a believer in the past that I always was able to take our best teams into the playoffs when we've been healthy, and we've had a hard time keeping them healthy over the past two years, and it just all kind of snowballs.

Q.  What will be your routine over the next few days, recruiting wise or hanging out here wise?
BILL BLANKENSHIP:  Well, our staff has already got plans for next week.  We'll be heading out on‑‑ in fact, some of them will leave tomorrow actually because we start ‑‑ the period in college recruiting begins on Sunday, and so I'm scheduled for some home visits, and we've got to put our ears back and get after it.  The only way to solve the issues that we have is to recruit, and so it's a never‑ending battle.  But we've got to get out and do a great job.  We'll get a one‑week head start on some of the guys in the conference.

Q.  There was some talk in the pregame about there was a coach that‑‑ one coach had cleaned out his office, at least one.  No?
BILL BLANKENSHIP:  No, I would dare you to walk through our offices.  Yeah.  I mean, there's no quit here, guys.  There's nobody‑‑ that's not what we're about.  [] going in and ask our players to what we ask them to do, I just assure you that that's not going on.

Q.  Denver Johnson had posted something on Facebook.  I don't know if you guys are Facebook friends or not, but his words were, "the last goodbye is the hardest one to say.  This is where the cowboy rides away."  It's a George Strait song.  That's pretty poignant going into tonight.
BILL BLANKENSHIP:  That's the way we feel about our seniors.

Q.  It's the season finale kind of thing, nothing about this is our last game as coaches or anything like that?
BILL BLANKENSHIP:  No, we've talked about it the last several weeks.  If there's something out there, I don't have it.  I don't know it.  I certainly understand that we've not achieved at the level that we want to achieve.  I'm as disappointed, I promise you, as anybody, but I also think very strongly that we have a future here.  I think we can see that.
You know, I love what we have in our young players that got a lot of experience this year.  We've got to do a good job of recruiting to build around them, but so far we're in really good places with our recruiting.

Q.  Earlier you talked about just like last year, everything is going to be on the table when you look back at this thing.  What is that like for you when you have a staff that you're so close to?  Does that color anything, affect anything?
BILL BLANKENSHIP:  Well, probably.  I think that I'd be lying to say that it doesn't, but there's still a mission to accomplish.  I think one of the things I talked to our staff about in the past is‑‑ the whole deal is hard decisions, whether they're mine or somebody else's, all are made when you have a focus on the mission, and when you lose sight of the mission and you start looking at all the other things, then maybe those decisions are hard.  But we'll always do what's best for this program.

Q.  What would be a good time frame, because of rumors or whatever, or because of the bad seasons, that you expect an assurance one way or the other as to whether or not you will continue here?  What would be the time frame that you would‑‑
BILL BLANKENSHIP:  It's possible, but, I mean, we're going recruiting.  We have to‑‑ you can't recruit successfully with a possible something coming up here.  Derrick has never indicated to me that we would play any games or do anything.  We've always scheduled an evaluation; we've always done that last year, and we'll do it again.  I totally get that.

Q.  Do you think it would be necessary for him because of the rumors to make a statement one way or the other to the fan base or‑‑ do you think it's necessary for him to have to do that?
BILL BLANKENSHIP:  Well, sure, because you guys are going to let it not be that way.  We're going to have to get some answers and some clarity.  We know that.  But here's what I have control of:  None of that, or any of that.  My mom would be mad at me for saying that.  Any of that.  So what I control is we have a plan.  We have a plan to recruit, and we're going to do that.  If somebody tells me not to go recruit, then they'll tell me that, but until then I owe it to this team, I owe it to my boss, I owe it to the university, I owe it to myself to do exactly what I'm hired to do.

Q.  People are going to say why is Tulsa football heading in the right direction?
BILL BLANKENSHIP:  Well, our offense couldn't move the ball outside of‑‑ we said it was a broken animal, a broken mechanism.  I don't know what the final numbers were, but Dane either finished as fifth or sixth in all‑time ever‑‑ Tulsa has got a great tradition in passing, and for him to have the fifth or sixth best season ever, for Keevan Lucas to become the third‑‑ listen, guys, the third receiver in the history of Tulsa football to have 100 catches?  Okay, to be in the‑‑ I don't know where our final ranking is, but we're in the top two or three in the conference offensively.  A year ago I was partial to fixing that, and we fixed it.
I think you see a freshman Bishop Louie, I think you see a freshman D'Angelo Brewer, I think you see Keevan Lucas and Dane who are sophomores that are the playmakers on this team.  None of those guys are on offense that are seniors.  Do we have some problems on defense?  Absolutely we do.  We know we do.  But we're going to graduate a number of players, and of that number, that 12, there were four fifth‑year seniors that graduated that came here on scholarship, two fourth‑year seniors that came here on scholarship.  That's a total of six scholarship players when they first came here that are graduating this year.  The rest were either transfers or walk‑ons that earned scholarships.  This is a very, very [](inaudible) people to think that that's the reality, but it is the reality of what we have.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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