Tulsa Golden Hurricane football

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Tulsa Golden Hurricane football
2016 Tulsa Golden Hurricane football team
First season 1895
Athletic director Derrick Gragg
Head coach Philip Montgomery[1]
2nd year, 11–9 (.550)
Stadium Skelly Field at H. A. Chapman Stadium
Seating capacity 30,000
Field surface FieldTurf
Location Tulsa, Oklahoma
Conference The American
Division West
All-time record 601–477–28 (.556)
Bowl record 9–10 (.474)
Conference titles 35
Consensus All-Americans 2
Colors Old Gold, Royal Blue, and Crimson[2]
Fight song Hurricane Spirit
Mascot Captain Cane
Marching band The Sound of the Golden Hurricane
Website tulsahurricane.com

The Tulsa Golden Hurricane football program represents the University of Tulsa in college football at the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level. Tulsa has competed in the American Athletic Conference (The American) since the 2014 season and was previously a member of Conference USA (C-USA). The team is currently led by head coach Philip Montgomery, who took over after Bill Blankenship was fired following the 2014 season.[1] Tulsa plays its home games at Skelly Field at H. A. Chapman Stadium in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The University of Tulsa has the smallest undergraduate enrollment of all schools that participate at the FBS level.


Early years, 1895–1907[edit]

The first football team represented Henry Kendall College (now Tulsa) in 1895, and defeated the Bacone Indians in their only game of the season.

Tulsa was known as Henry Kendall College until the move from Muskogee to Tulsa was completed in 1907.[3] It was during this time that the first football team would represent the University.[4] The team would go 1–0, defeating the Bacone Indians.[5] Both the exact date and score of the game were not recorded.[5] Over the next twelve years, Kendall would play 17 games, going 8–8–1, but not fielding a team for four years (1903, 1904, 1906, 1907).[4] The most common opponent was Arkansas, who met with Tulsa four times.[5]

Move to Tulsa, 1907[edit]

The Kendallites in 1914 game action.

Now established in Tulsa, the football team began to grow. In 1913, Kendall went 5–2 under George Evans.[4] Sam P. McBirney, who coached the 2–3 1908 squad, would then return to coach the team in 1914.[5] His first two years back would both be successful, a 6–2 record in 1914 and 6–1–1 the following year, but the undefeated 1916 squad would bring national recognition to Tulsa. The 1916 Hurricane outscored its opponents 566–40, including an 81–0 defeat of Cumberland (TN) and a 117–0 drubbing of Missouri–Rolla.[4][5] There were rumors of playing Notre Dame for the Mid-America Championship, but the two teams never met.[4]

Francis "Close the Gates of Mercy" Schmidt, 1919–1921[edit]

1920 8–0–1 Henry Kendall Kendallites.

Kendall College would return to form after World War I, to go 8–0–1 under Francis Schmidt. The new coach was known as "Close the Gates of Mercy" Schmidt because of his efforts to run up the score on inferior teams.[6] Under Schmidt's three-year tenure, Kendall defeated Oklahoma Baptist 152–0, St. Gregory 121–0, and NE Oklahoma 151–0, as well as a 92–0 defeat of East Central Oklahoma and 10 other victories by 60+ points.[5] The 1919 season gave Kendall their first defeat of the Oklahoma Sooners, but a 7–7 tie with Oklahoma A&M would prevent a perfect season.[5] Ultimately, Schmidt's style would cost Tulsa their coach, as he attracted the attention of University of Arkansas boosters with a 63–7 defeat of the Razorbacks in 1919. Schmidt would sign with and coach the Hogs from 1922–1928.[7]

Howard Archer and "The Golden Hurricane"[edit]

Howard Archer would leave his mark on the program in two ways. Tulsa did not miss a beat after Schmidt's departure, and went 8–0 in 1922.[5] This included a 13–6 defeat of Schmidt-coached Arkansas in Fayetteville.[5] Archer also gave the newly named University of Tulsa an athletic identity.[8] Previously, the team had been referred to as "Orange and Black", "Kendallites", "Presbyterians", "Tigers", and "Tulsans".[9] Archer put a vote to the team to replace Golden Tornadoes, which belonged to Georgia Tech.[10] The vote resulted in "Golden Hurricane", which it has remained ever since.[8] The coach would not have the staying power of his nickname, however, and was ousted after three years, when he was replaced by Gus Henderson. TU gave Henderson a large contract to leave the mighty Trojans of USC and coach the Golden Hurricane.[10]

"Gloomy Gus" Henderson and Skelly Stadium[edit]

The Hurricane had great success on and off the field under Henderson, going 62–17–3 in his first nine years, winning four Oklahoma Intercollegiate Conference championships.[8] Henderson also played an integral part in building a home for his football team. The team played in McNulty Park, a 90-yard baseball field where the teams had to drive the length of the field before bringing out the ball to the ten yard line and put the ball in the endzone again.[10] This facility shortcoming meant that officials had to make a judgment call whether the player could've scored or not.[11] Many fights resulted from what other schools thought was favoritism by the officials on these calls.[11] Skelly Field, named for oil tycoon William Skelly, was completed in 1930.[8] Tulsa won the first game in the stadium, 26–6 over Arkansas.[10] Tulsa also scored on the first offensive play in the stadium, after Arkansas fumbled the opening kickoff.[12]

Henderson brought the University of Tulsa into the Missouri Valley Conference for the 1935 season.

Frnka takes Tulsa bowling[edit]

Tulsa signed their thirteenth head coach, Henry Frnka, who was coaching at a high school in Greenville, Texas. Under Frnka, Tulsa roared through the 1941 season, finishing 7–2 and receiving their first bowl invitation.[13] It was the help of Glenn Dobbs, considered the best player in Tulsa history, that Frnka could take the Hurricane to new heights. Tulsa defeated Texas Tech in the Sun Bowl because of a Glenn Dobbs pass to Sax Judd with little time remaining, the only score of the game.[14] Tulsa improved in 1942, going 10–0, including wins against Oklahoma (23–0), Oklahoma A&M (34–6), and Arkansas (40–7).[8] This netted the Golden Hurricane an invitation to the 1943 Sugar Bowl against Tennessee. Tulsa lost the game and argument for national champion on a late Volunteer touchdown.[15] Tulsa was instead ranked fourth to end the year, the highest in school history.[16]

Missouri Valley Conference (1935–1985)[edit]

Notable in Tulsa football tradition are the Missouri Valley Conference teams of 1964 and 1965 which compiled records of 9–2 and 8–3 and played in the Bluebonnet Bowl in both years. The passing attack featured Jerry Rhome to Howard Twilley, both of whom achieved lengthy careers in professional football; Rhome polled second in the 1964 Heisman Trophy; Rhome and Twilley are in the College Football Hall of Fame. The 1952 Missouri Valley Conference team with its 8–2–1 record climbed to 11th in the AP Poll & was invited to the Gator Bowl, then 1 of only 5 post-season bowl games, although not one of the 4 major ones. Steve Largent was another talented Tulsa receiver who graduated to a long NFL career (1976–1989 Seattle), was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame because of numerous enduring records as a receiver, served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1994–2002, and then ran as one of the two major candidates for Governor of Oklahoma in 2002. The Golden Hurricane won 25 Missouri Valley conference football titles the most of any school that competed in that league.

Tulsa was the only team to play in five consecutive New Year's Day bowl games. The Golden Hurricane also was handed one of the worst defeats in college football history when they were beaten in regular season play by Houston Cougars 100–6 on November 23, 1968.[17] Dr. Phil McGraw played for TU at the time.[18]

On November 2, 1985, Tulsa became the first NCAA football team to get two 200-yard rushing performances from two running backs in the same game. Gordon Brown rushed for 214 yards, and Steve Gage rushed for 206 in a 42–26 win over Wichita State.[19]

Independent (1986–1995)[edit]

The Missouri Valley dropped football after the 1985 season. Tulsa, by this time the MVC's only Division I-A member in football, became an independent.

Over the next four years, Tulsa had three head coaches. Eight-year veteran John Cooper left for Arizona State after the 1984 season, and was succeeded by Don Morton, who in turn left after only two years for Wisconsin. George Henshaw led the team in 1987, but left after only one year for the NFL. David Rader took over in 1988.

Rader led Tulsa to a school-record 10 wins in 1991, but it turned out to be the school's last hurrah for more than a decade. According to Rader, school officials dropped health/PE as a major early in the 1990s; at one point, 56 percent of the players were health/PE majors. Combined with an aging Skelly Stadium, this made it difficult to attract competitive players.[20] Rader never won more than four games in a season again, and was fired midway through the 1999 season.

Western Athletic Conference (1996–2004)[edit]

Tulsa joined the Western Athletic Conference in 1996, becoming that 16-team league's easternmost member at the time. However, they only had one winning record in nine years of WAC play.

Conference USA (2005–2013)[edit]

2007 Golden Hurricane football game with downtown Tulsa in the background.

Since the 2005 season Tulsa has twice won the C-USA Championship. Tulsa finished the 2007 season with a 10–4 season, concluding with a 63–7 win over Bowling Green in the 2008 GMAC Bowl. This was the largest margin of victory ever recorded in any bowl game. Tulsa also became the first team in NCAA history to have a 5,000-yard passer (Paul Smith), a 1,000-yard rusher (Tarrion Adams) and two 1,000-yard receivers (Brennan Marion and Trae Johnson) in a single season. Additionally, Smith became the NCAA record-holder for most consecutive games in one season (14) with over 300 yards passing.

American Athletic Conference (2014–present)[edit]

On April 2, 2013, Tulsa announced that in July 2014 it would leave C-USA for the league then known as the Big East Conference.[21] The following day, the conference announced its new name of the American Athletic Conference,[22] which took effect once the non-FBS schools broke from the league and formed a new Big East Conference.

All-time record vs. AAC teams[edit]

Opponent Won Lost Tied Percentage Streak First Last
Central Florida 6 3 0 .667 Won 1 2005 2015
Cincinnati 16 14 2 .531 Lost 5 1946 2015
Connecticut 0 0 0
East Carolina 5 8 0 .385 Lost 6 1984 2015
Houston 18 22 0 .450 Lost 2 1950 2015
Memphis 10 16 0 .385 Lost 2 1961 2015
Navy 1 2 0 .333 Lost 1 2004 2015
SMU 9 13 0 .409 Won 2 1935 2015
South Florida 0 1 0 .000 Lost 1 2014 2014
Temple 2 1 0 .667 Lost 1 1987 2014
Tulane 10 2 0 .833 Won 2 1968 2015
Totals 77 82 2 .484

Head coaching history[edit]

Name Seasons Overall Overall %
Norman Leard 1895–1897 5–2 .714
Fred Taylor 1898–1899 1–1–1 .500
Sam P. McBirney 1908, 1914–1916 25–6–1 .806
Harvey L. Allen 1912 1–3 .250
George "Red" Evans 1913 5–2 .714
Hal Mefford 1917 0–8–1 .000
Arthur Smith 1918 1–2 .333
Francis Schmidt 1919–1921 24–3–2 .889
Howard Acher 1922–1924 12–11–2 .522
Gus Henderson 1925–1935 70–25–5 .737
Vic Hurt 1936–1938 15–9–5 .625
Chet Benefiel 1939–1940 11–8–1 .589
Henry Frnka 1941–1945 40–9–1 .816
Buddy Brothers 1946–1952 45–25–4 .635
Bernie Witucki 1953–1954 3–18 .143
Bobby Dobbs 1955–1960 30–28–2 .517
Glenn Dobbs 1961–1968 45–37 .549
Vince Carillot 1969 1–9 .100
Claude "Hoot" Gibson 1970–1972 11–16 .407
F. A. Dry 1972–1976 31–18–1 .633
John Cooper 1977–1984 57–31–1 .648
Don Morton 1985–1986 13–9 .591
George Henshaw 1987 3–8 .273
Dave Rader 1988–1999 49–80–1 .376
Pat Henderson 1999 1–3 .250
Keith Burns 2000–2002 7–28 .200
Steve Kragthorpe 2003–2006 29–22 .569
Todd Graham 2007–2010 35–17 .673
Bill Blankenship 2011–2014 24–27 .471
Philip Montgomery 2015–present 7–6 .538


Bowl games[edit]

Seasons Bowl W/L Opponent PF PA
1941 Sun W Texas Tech 6 0
1942 Sugar L Tennessee 7 14
1943 Sugar L Georgia Tech 18 20
1944 Orange W Georgia Tech 26 12
1945 Oil L Georgia 6 20
1952 Gator L Florida 13 14
1964 Bluebonnet W Mississippi 14 7
1965 Bluebonnet L Tennessee 6 27
1976 Independence L McNeese State 16 20
1989 Independence L Oregon 24 27
1991 Freedom W San Diego St. 28 17
2003 Humanitarian L Georgia Tech 10 52
2005 Liberty W Fresno State 31 24
2006 Armed Forces L Utah 13 25
2007 GMAC W Bowling Green 63 7
2008 GMAC W Ball State 45 13
2010 Hawaii W Hawaii 62 35
2011 Armed Forces L BYU 21 24
2012 Liberty W Iowa State 31 17
2015 Independence L Virginia Tech 52 55
Total 20 bowl games 9–11 492 430

Future non-conference opponents[edit]

Announced schedules as of September 8, 2015

2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
vs San Jose State at Oklahoma State at Texas State at San Jose State at Oklahoma State at Oklahoma State vs Northern Illinois at Northern Illinois
at Ohio State vs UL Lafayette at Texas vs Oklahoma State vs Toledo at Wyoming
vs North Carolina A&T at Toledo vs Arkansas State vs Wyoming at Arkansas State
at Fresno State vs New Mexico at UL Lafayette


Current players in National Football League[edit]


  1. ^ a b http://www.cbssports.com/collegefootball/eye-on-college-football/24881642/tulsa-introduces-baylor-oc-philip-montgomery-as-next-head-coach
  2. ^ University of Tulsa Style Guide (PDF). Retrieved 2016-03-23. 
  3. ^ "History of the University of Tulsa." Site. Retrieved on February 7, 2009.
  4. ^ a b c d e Bonham: 9
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i ESPN: 900
  6. ^ "Francis A. Schmidt." Hall of Fame Profile. College Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved on February 7, 2009.
  7. ^ "Francis Schmidt Coaching Profile." Profile. Retrieved on February 7, 2009.
  8. ^ a b c d e ESPN: 898
  9. ^ ESPN: 897
  10. ^ a b c d Bonham: 10
  11. ^ a b Rutland, Robert. "The Golden Hurricane: Fifty Years of Football at the University of Tulsa, 1895–1945." Tulsa Quarterback Club. (1953) OCLC: 3337415
  12. ^ "Skelly Field at H.A. Chapman Stadium" Stadium Page. The University of Tulsa Official Athletic Site. Retrieved on February 7, 2009.
  13. ^ "Henry Frnka." Article. Retrieved on March 7, 2009.
  14. ^ "Sun Bowl History." Website. Retrieved on March 7, 2009.
  15. ^ ESPN: 1466
  16. ^ Bonham: 25
  17. ^ Brian Phillips, "But It Did Happen: The completely bonkers, wildly unbelievable, mind-bogglingly lopsided Tulsa-Houston game of 1968, featuring a future NFL coach, a country singer, and … Dr. Phil", Grantland.com, October 25, 2013.
  18. ^ The Making of Dr. Phil: The Straight-Talking True Story of Everyone's Favorite Therapist; Sophia Dembling, Lisa Gutierrez; John Wiley and Sons, 2003. p. 247
  19. ^ National Sports Review – The Best and Worst of the '80s: Stories & Anecdotes, Quotes & Lists & Hypes, Passions & Amusements, published 1989, Preview Publishing and InfoSports, p.88
  20. ^ Faith Keeps David Rader in Game of Life, GTR Newspapers, October 27, 2010 (retrieved October 8, 2011).
  21. ^ "University of Tulsa Joins Current BIG EAST in 2014–15" (Press release). Big East Conference. April 2, 2013. Retrieved April 2, 2013. 
  22. ^ "New Name in College Sports – Current BIG EAST Enters New Era as 'American Athletic Conference'". April 3, 2013. Archived from the original on April 21, 2013. Retrieved April 3, 2013. 
  23. ^ "Golden Hurricane Football Coaching History" (PDF). University of Tulsa. Retrieved March 11, 2009. 
  24. ^ "Tulsa Golden Hurricane future schedules". fbschedules.com. Retrieved 2014-08-25. 


External links[edit]