Newly appointed University of Tulsa Head Football Coach Bill Blankenship announced Tuesday three appointments to the Golden Hurricane coaching staff. These coaches have coached on the collegiate level for an average of 27 years and have participated in 27 bowl games as coaches – former Golden Hurricane offensive lineman and collegiate head coach Denver Johnson, Scott Downing, the former head coach at Northern Colorado and longtime assistant coach Greg Peterson are new to the Hurricane coaching staff.
Peterson will serve as offensive coordinator and receiver coach, Downing has been appointed assistant head coach and Johnson will coach the offensive line. These coaches join Van Malone, Archie McDaniel and Jess Loepp already on the Tulsa coaching staff.
“We have three individuals that embody everything I’m looking for to help lead this program and teach our young men. All three coaches possess great experience in BCS programs, have outstanding leadership qualities and are tremendous recruiters. They are among the best in their field,” said Blankenship. “As we built the core of this staff, I wanted it to be guys that had a rich and deep experience level and were proven recruiters and that’s what we’ve done with these individuals.”
Scott Peterson brings 26 years of collegiate coaching experience to Tulsa. He spent this past season as the offensive coordinator at Northern Colorado. In 2010, the Bears scored the most points and had the highest rushing total in school history since becoming a Division I school, while also turning in the school’s second-best total ever for total yards and passing yards. UNC averaged 25 points and 358 yards of total offense in 2010, while passing for 227 yards and rushing for 131 yards per game.
Before his one year at UNC, Peterson spent two years as the offensive coordinator, recruiting coordinator and receiver coach at Colorado State. In his first year, the Rams averaged 396 yards per game to rank 41st nationally en route to an overall 7-6 record.
Peterson spent two years at Washington State (2006-07) as tight ends coach. Before that, he served on Bill Snyder’s staff at Kansas State for 12 years (1994-2005), where he was a part of 10 bowl teams. At KSU, he served in various capacities, including all 12 seasons as kickoff return coordinator, receivers coach for 10 years, passing game coordinator for six years and co-offensive coordinator for two seasons.
In his tenure at Kansas State, Peterson coached nine all-conference receivers, eight All-Americans, eight Biletnifkoff award candidates and had 14 receivers go on to the NFL. He was a part of 109 wins in those 12 seasons with the Wildcats.
Peterson earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration and physical education from Nebarska Wesleyan in 1984, and his master’s degree in Education from Eastern Oregon in 1991. He and his wife, Leanna, have two children: Taylor and Rachael.
“Greg was absolutely the best recruiter to ever come through Union High School in the 14 years that I was the head coach,” said Blankenship. “Greg has quality experience as an offensive coordinator in the Big 12 and Mountain West Conferences and as a receiver coach he’s one of the best in the nation.”
A 1981 Tulsa graduate, Denver Johnson returns to his alma mater after spending the past two seasons as the offensive line coach at the University of Colorado (2009-10). The Buffs’ offensive unit jumped 66 spots in NCAA stats for fewest sacks allowed in 2010, ranking 51st nationally.
Before that, Johnson spent a total of 12 years as a head coach at two Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) schools, including nine years at Illinois State (2000-08) and the three seasons before that at Murray State (1997-99). He compiled an overall 69-66 career head coaching mark. Johnson recorded a 21-12 record at Murray State and won 48 games at Illinois State. His 2006 team registered a 9-4 mark, the second most wins in school history, advanced to the FCS quarterfinals and finished the season with a No. 8 national ranking.
At Illinois State, his teams produced some of the most prolific offensive campaigns in school history by establishing 28 offensive records, including most points and the most rushing, passing and total yards in a single season.
Before his first head coaching stop, Johnson spent 11 years as an assistant coach after beginning his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Oklahoma State in 1985. He coached three years at Tennessee-Martin (1986-88), four years at Oklahoma State (1989-92), three years at Mississippi State (1993-95) and one year at Oklahoma (1996), coaching the offensive line at all four schools.
Johnson has spent a total of 26 years coaching college football.
An all-Missouri Valley Conference offensive lineman as a senior for the Golden Hurricane, Johnson was an eighth round draft choice by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1981. He spent two years with the Bucs and three years in the USFL. Johnson and his wife, Danita Kay, have two daughters: Taylor and Kelsey.
“Denver is absolutely the most outstanding offensive line coach that I know. He has 12 years experience as a head coach and on either end of that has been a great recruiter and tremendous offensive line teacher and technician. As an alum, Denver has deep roots in Tulsa and Oklahoma and has multiple years of experience in recruiting Oklahoma and Texas,” said Blankenship.
Scott Downing has 31 years of collegiate coaching experience, including seven years as a head coach and 12 years as a coordinator, and has coached in 15 bowl games.
“Scott has the whole package. He has been an assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator in some of the largest conferences in the country,” said Blankenship. “He brings great leadership and a wealth of experience. I think Scott is the ideal assistant head coach to help a first-year college head coach in navigating and transitioning into this initial year. I will lean on him heavily.”
Over the past five seasons, Downing served as the head coach at the University of Northern Colorado (2006-10). Before that, Downing was the recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach at Nebraska (2003-05) for three years.
Previously, he served six years under Joe Tiller at Purdue University (1997-2002) as assistant head coach, special teams coordinator and running backs coach. Downing went to Purdue with Tiller after spending 10 seasons on the coaching staff at Wyoming (1987-96), where he held positions as linebackers coach for four years, defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for four years and assistant head coach, special teams coordinator and running backs coach for two seasons.
Downing began his coaching career at Sterling College in 1980, spending the first two years as offensive line coach (1980-81) and the next two seasons as head coach (1982-83). He then made his first stop at Nebraska (1984-86) as a graduate assistant coach for two years and served one year as the head freshman coach.
Downing earned his bachelor’s degree from Sterling College in 1979. He was a four-year starter in football and served as team captain in 1977 and 1978. Downing and his wife, Karen, have three sons: Matthew, Andrew and Zachary.
Blankenship has three more assistant coaching positions remaining to complete his staff.