Conference championship game host Tulane perhaps best story in college football
If Louisiana does not have the two best stories in college football this season, it certainly does not take much time to call the roll.
How can anyone not see that in Tulane? How can anyone not see that in LSU?
While the Tigers still have work to do in College Station and in Atlanta, LSU has done a remarkable job recovering from the regime of Ed Orgeron and what was left of the program, regardless of the outcome of those games.
Brian Kelly has done a sensational job and deserves strong consideration for national Coach of the Year honors. If LSU makes the College Football Playoff, it will be hard keeping Kelly from winning that prestigious award. We will talk more about the Tigers more in the next few days.
Today is about Tulane and the case for Willie Fritz.
A year ago, coming off three consecutive bowl game appearances, Tulane finished a highly disappointing 2-10.
Yes, there were distractions, displacements, injuries and a very tough schedule.
No, those were not excuses but facts. Still, Tulane had better personnel than being 2-10.
All observers knew it. Fritz knew it more than anyone.
Rather than soaking in his sorrows and looking to place blame elsewhere, Fritz was introspective. He took full responsibility.
In the process of doing so, Fritz dealt with the disappointment by dismantling some aspects of his coaching staff.
You are only as good as those you surround yourself with.
Fritz realized he was not good because he had not surrounded himself with the best assistant coaches possible.
He made the necessary changes.
The results have been phenomenal.
The players bought in.
Those players reached their full potential, playing to their abilities.
It has been amazing to watch a program go from 2-10 to 10-2.
The symmetry of those numbers is not lost on me.
As I have maintained from the start, Tulane made the right hire in Fritz.
Tulane has stuck with Fritz and Fritz has stuck with Tulane.
Let us hope that marriage continues for years to come.
Today, Tulane put everything on display that made it a 10-2 team.
Tyjae Spears is a tremendous football player.
The offensive line is much improved.
Having a nominal to not quite good enough day, Michael Pratt tuned up his arm and turned up the level of his play dramatically when it was needed most.
Tulane had a 10-point lead.
The Green Wave saw that lead disappear.
The skeptic may have immediately turned to the “here we go again” narrative.
Instead, Pratt delivered his own narrative.
He drove the Green Wave 75 yards in just four plays to erase the deficit.
First, Pratt hit Lawrence Keys for an 8-yard gain.
After Spears gained four yards and a first down, Pratt delivered a strike for 33 yards to Shae Wyatt, a perfect throw, hitting Wyatt in stride and allowing him to make yards after the catch.
Then, Pratt, Fritz and Jim Swoboda wasted no time in going for the jugular.
Pratt dropped another perfect throw, dropping in in the bucket to Deuce Watts for a 30-yard touchdown to give Tulane a 27-24 lead with 5:10 to play in the game.
Then, it was time for the Tulane defense to step up.
On the final two possessions for Cincinnati, the Bearcats ran seven plays and lost six yards.
Then, there was the kicking game.
Keys returned a kickoff 32 yards.
Valentino Ambrosio made two key field goals, including tying a career long of 47 yards, and made extra points. His kickoffs were very effective as well. Casey Glover punted the ball out of bounds at the 1-yard line.
To win and win consistently, you have to have consistency in all three phases of the game.
The streaks are over, including the losing streak against ranked teams, including the 32 straight wins at home for Cincinnati.
Tulane has earned the opportunity to host the American Athletic Conference championship game at Yulman Stadium.
Hopefully, that will be a full stadium. The Green Wave deserve it.
As for now, for delivering the best turn-around season in the country, let us all salute Fritz, his staff and players with a one, a two, a helluva Hullabaloo!
Tulane has quite literally flipped the script this season, reversing a 2-10 season in 2021 to 10-2 this season, and the Green Wave is now preparing to host its first American Athletic Conference football championship game after a 27-24 victory over Cincinnati Friday.
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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…