The University of Tulsa has a recent history with Fresno State Head Coach Tim DeRuyter. The first-year Bulldog leader had a shot at becoming the Golden Hurricane head coach just 20 months ago. Now he'll be coaching on the opposite sideline at Chapman Stadium.
As InsideTulsaSports.com reported during the coaching search in January of 2011, DeRuyter interviewed with Tulsa and was a top candidate. However, he pulled his name out of contention before an official offer was made.
On Monday, DeRuyter told the Fresno Bee that he spoke with the Tulsa president and athletic director at length, sharing his philosophies, vision of the program and ways he would address any issues as a first-time head coach.
"I was very impressed with what Tulsa had to offer," he said. "It was intriguing, but the timing wasn't right. I'd only been at Texas A&M for one year. We just bought a house in College Station. And even though I went to A&M hoping to get a head coaching opportunity at some point, in my mind, I thought I'd be there two to five years before I'd get an offer."
Obviously, Tulsa ultimately hired Bill Blankenship, who has maintained the level of excellence that the Golden Hurricane has been accustomed to over the last eight years.
"Bill Blankenship has done a great job continuing what Todd Graham had done before," said DeRuyter. "This is Coach Blankenship's second year, but he was on the previous staff and got elevated. He's taken it step by step where there hasn't been a big transition. These guys are going to be very difficult to stop, as evidenced by what they've done so far."
After watching film of the Golden Hurricane on Monday, the Fresno coach found similarities between the two programs on offense.
"(Tulsa is) a little bit like us," he explained. "They're up-tempo, they're going to spread you out, they're going to go multiple personnel grouping, and they've got some explosive players. They've got backs that break tackles and go the distance. They've got long receivers that can go up and catch the ball over people. They've got a quarterback who has played in the Big 12. He sat out a year ago after transfer, and now it's his turn to start, and he's well entrenched in their system.
"We realize this is going to be a great test. They've been running this system for a while now."
DeRuyter is also familiar with Tulsa quarterback Cody Green, who transferred from Nebraska. While coaching defense at Texas A&M, DeRuyter and the Aggies faced the Cornhuskers with Green running the offense.
"He played a couple of series in my first year at A&M in 2010," DeRuyter described. "He's an athletic guy, big. He played a couple series when Martinez got hurt. You look at the guys that are on that Nebraska roster, and they're all very highly recruited, highly talented and very athletic guys, and he certainly was one of them.
"Clearly he's played a lot more. He's been (Tulsa's) starter since their first game, and he's improving each week. He's very efficient, he can run, he does the things that stress the defense. Not only does he sit in the pocket and throw, but he can run it, and he does both well."
Tulsa hosts Fresno State on Saturday night at 7 pm. It will be their first meeting since the Hurricane defeated the Bulldogs 31-24 in the 2005 Liberty Bowl.