Best month in Tulane football history concludes with parade
Parades are reserved for Mardi Gras and other special occasions in New Orleans.
Those special parade occasions include St. Patrick’s Day, the Irish-Italian Parade, the Allstate Sugar Bowl, the Bayou Classic, Easter, the Children’s Hospital Holiday Parade, and sometimes others.
Of course, we are always looking for a reason to celebrate.
That is the nature of being from this area.
It is one of the endearing, enticing, enthralling, entertaining, excellent aspects of being from or living in the New Orleans area.
To witness the exuberance of long-starving Tulane fans and newly minted Green Wave fans over the past month has been very encouraging.
Rick Jones brought Tulane baseball to a new level, the pinnacle of success with a pair of College World Series appearances.
Perry Clark resurrected a basketball program from the depths of the death penalty to being an NCAA tournament team more than once.
Lisa Stockton grew a women’s basketball program into a consistent winner and postseason team on several occasions.
Then, there was football.
The record speaks for itself and it has been detailed, disappointingly, on many occasions both here on my radio shows and in mass media, period.
In fact, while we have always paid attention to Tulane football on our radio shows and here at CrescentCitySports.com, mass media coverage diminished over time, due to the vast de-emphasizing of newspapers, an overall lack of local radio shows and with television stations simply prioritizing coverage to other entities, outside of game coverage.
Now, at least for now, all of that has changed.
What a month it has been in Tulane football history!
While the 1998 team which went unbeaten and finished seventh in the nation remains the standard for Tulane football, the euphoria and momentum of that season was tempered, if not doused with cold water with the immediate departure of Tommy Bowden for Clemson and “Winnebagos on Wednesdays,” the infamous phrase used to describe the decision by Bowden to depart.
Then Tulane president Scott Cowen uttered the phrase at the press conference announcing Bowden’s departure, citing what Bowden wanted Tulane to become in football. Cowen later parlayed that phrase into a book.
Tulane was nowhere near to making that kind of commitment to football under Cowen.
Fast forward to the 2022 season.
The Green Wave earned a spot in the American Athletic Conference championship game.
For the first time ever, Tulane earned the opportunity to host that game.
Then, the Green Men extracted revenge in a huge 45-28 win over Central Florida.
It appeared history was repeating itself.
Then came Georgia Tech.
Then came word that Willie Fritz would likely depart.
The bright light of shining success was again ready to be darkened quickly.
Against USC, Tulane played.
Trailing late, some fans prayed.
A brilliant rally led to a program now made.
Then came the parade.
Literally thousands showed out on campus to show their new heroes Sunday.
Students, largely apathetic for decades about the sport, on or off campus at the Superdome, got engaged as the 2022 season progressed and were out in force Sunday.
Now, the trick is to keep them on the train and to keep the train rolling.
Fritz, who has been named national Coach of the Year by two different entities, went from being a day, an hour, perhaps a minute or second away from a move to Atlanta, now says he want to retire as the head coach in New Orleans with the guys wearing olive green and sky blue.
What a difference a month makes!
Bowden remains a friend, a good man who did a great job in a brief period at Tulane.
There was no reason to cast blame at him leaving for a much bigger program in a big conference with a big budget and big aspirations. After all, Clemson had won a national championship in 1981 and would win twice more with Bowden’s successor. It was a huge step up, at the time.
While Georgia Tech plays in the same conference as Clemson and has been a national champion, most recently in 1990, it did not have the advantages that Clemson has, including budget commitment, facilities or attendance. It is much harder to win consistently at Tech than at Clemson.
Tech clearly wanted Fritz to make the commitment immediate and depart Tulane before its Cotton Bowl game with USC.
Fritz, an honest, likeable man of character, was not going that route.
He stayed the course.
Tulane won, of course.
Now the course of the journey is set with a steady hand steering the ship and with Tulane finally having a chance to cement itself as a consistent winner in the sport that matters most with a coach who can accomplish the elusive feat who has the support of his university president and athletic director to make necessary commitments and improvements to keep the Green Wave at or near the top of its revamped conference.
It is not far-fetched but rather realistic, if not rather easy to believe that Michael Fitts and Troy Dannen will commit to making Tulane competitive nationally in the sport that matters most for many years to come. Now is the time.
You can no longer throw shade at Tulane football.
Instead, you can throw a parade while keeping an eye out for Winnebagos on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays or Saturdays.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…