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TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Promising a brand of football that is "fun, fast and physical," new Tulsa coach Philip Montgomery said he can't wait to get busy installing the wide-open spread offense that has led to enormous success at Baylor.
Montgomery, 42, was hired Thursday and has already met with returning Tulsa players and talked with committed recruits. He said he has also had numerous contacts with coaches about putting together his new staff but made one thing clear.
"I will be calling the plays," he said Monday. "Obviously, that's why you hired me."
Tulsa has a proud passing tradition going back to the 1960s when it set numerous NCAA records under the guidance of coach Glenn Dobbs, the passing of Jerry Rhome and Billy Guy Anderson and the receiving of Howard Twilley and others. It was an early adopter of the modern spread offense as well, having great success with offensive coordinators Gus Malzahn (2007-08) and Chad Morris (2010), now the head coaches of Auburn and Clemson, respectively.
Tulsa got away from the spread the past four years under Bill Blankenship, who was fired after going 5-17 the past two seasons.
"That was a theme I heard over and over again," athletic director Derrick Gragg said. "Our fans are really excited and ready to score some points. I think it's obvious we hit a home run with this hire."
Montgomery, a Texas native, was an assistant to Baylor coach Art Briles the past 16 years, starting at Stephenville High School and through five years at Houston and seven at Baylor. Briles was originally a wishbone proponent.
"The offense just morphed into what it is today," Montgomery said. "We're always trying to stay on the cutting edge and see how we can gain an advantage. Every time the rules change, you've got to adapt and change with it. What Chad and Gus did here was unbelievable. They do a great job with their systems. Our system is a little different. Hopefully we're a little more balanced and attack the ball down the field a little more than they did."
At Baylor, Montgomery tutored quarterback Bryce Petty, Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III and Nick Florence. The Bears have been ranked among the top offenses in the country each of the last four years.
Tulsa quarterback Dane Evans, who threw for 3,102 yards as a sophomore, and receiver Keevan Lucas, who caught 101 passes for 1,219 yards in 2014, are both looking forward to the transition. Both played high school football in Texas and were visited by Montgomery.
"It's what I ran in high school and what I like the best," Evans said. "We can't wait to get started. This is exactly what we need. I've already watched tape of Baylor's offense and it was amazing to watch them and imagine yourself in that situation."
"I'm just really excited to play for him," Lucas said. "We're all excited to play in that system. He's going to find we have some really good receivers here, including some that the fans haven't even seen yet."
Montgomery plans to put his extensive contacts with Texas high school coaches to use in the next two months while working to salvage a recruiting class that had 10 commitments prior to Blankenship's firing. He said recruiting to a small private school such as Tulsa is an advantage.
"I felt like I was ready (to be a head coach) for many years, but it had to be the right place and right timing and right situation for my family," he said. "When this opportunity came up, I knew it was the place for us."
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