The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

June 15, 2013

New Tulsa AD has game

(Continued)

TULSA — Winning and barnstorming

A major advantage Gragg will have over his last stop, however, is the fact Tulsa has been a winning program in football for the past several seasons, having won Conference USA divisional titles four times in the past seven seasons, including winning the conference title in 2012 and defeating Iowa State in the Liberty Bowl.

“We’ve won a lot here at TU and so I think we have to remind people that we do win a lot and there is a great product here,” he said.

Getting the word out beyond Tulsa still may be a challenge. At the “meet and greet” with sports media, the only non Tulsa-based media present was the Enid News & Eagle. Tulsa radio, TV and newspapers were all in attendance. However, conspicuous by its absence, was The Oklahoman newspaper.

Gragg plans to use several methods to spread the word.

“I think social media is big these days,” Gragg said. “You have to use resources like Facebook and Twitter to get the word out.”

A little barnstorming may be in the future too for Tulsa under Gragg.

“Sometimes you just have to go where (the people) are,” Gragg said. “We are talking about doing some of those barnstorm things across the state.”

New conference home

But an immediate task will be getting the word out about Tulsa’s new conference affiliation.

After several years in Conference USA, the Golden Hurricane will be joining the new American Athletic Conference in 2014. The AAC essentially will be made up of former Conference USA programs and the remnants of the old Big East.

“We’re going into a new conference and we’re elevating where we are,” Gragg said. “We need to reach people and explain to them why it’s different.”

Tulsa’s decision to leave was not unexpected once Conference USA started losing schools like Houston, Memphis, UCF, East Carolina, SMU and Tulane to the AAC (at the time it still was the Big East before the basketball-only schools left and took the name with them). Continuing in a conference that was bringing in schools like Old Dominion and Charlotte made little sense, while joining a conference where most of its rivals were heading that also included Cincinnati, UConn and Temple made more sense. Navy also will be joining the AAC in 2015.

“It was the right time to move on,” Gragg explained. “You continue to build the rivalries with Houston, SMU and Tulane — like-minded private institutions — and adding Cincinnati and UConn is going to be very exciting.”

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