Dannen plans upgrades needed to continue Tulane’s football momentum
Tulane won 12 games including the Cotton Bowl.
So, what’s next?
For starters, director of athletics Troy Dannen said the football locker room will be renovated this spring and that sometime in 2024, he anticipates that Tulane football will be practicing in an on-campus bubble.
Dannen said the site he prefers is the current Brown Field, in front of the Reily Center, on the location of the old Tulane Stadium.
Fundraising for the project will commence shortly and head coach Willie Fritz will be involved in raising money, per Dannen.
“It is one thing to turn the President down, one thing to turn the AD down, but when the football coach who just won the Cotton Bowl is across the table, he’s going to be hard to turn down,” said Dannen.
Tulane has used the Saints indoor practice facility and the Superdome but Dannen notes because of possible inclement weather, busses are hired (and at times not used) at a cost of $4,000 a trip.
Dannen said that keeping head coach Willie Fritz and his staff intact was critical and noted that Tulane football assistant coaches are now paid in “the top two of three” in the new-look American Athletic Conference, one that adds six teams for the 2023-2024 athletic year.
He also lauded the work of strength and conditioning coach Kurt Hester.
“We made a huge upgrade bringing in Kurt Hester.”
Dannen explained that he is skeptical when he hears of name, image and likeness money paid by other schools.
“The thing about NIL, when you hear what anyone else is doing, consider it to be an mis-representation of fact,” said Dannen.
The Tulane athletics director said that the Green Wave is near the top in NIL money paid by any of the group of 5 schools.
“Guys need to monetize their brand, if they come here and build a brand,” said Dannen.
He noted that President Michael Fitts is a key player in the resurgence of Green Wave athletics and that Fritz, when hired in late 2015, was brought on board without a face to face interview with Fitts.
“We didn’t buy success, we built success,” said Dannen. “And, he (Fitts) empowered the build. He made sure obstacles were out of the way so we could get things done. I was here six days, and I called him and said here’s the football coach we are going to hire. I can’t let him get on a plane.”
In an interview with a reporter before Tulane’s on-campus parade to celebrate the Cotton Bowl victory, Fritz said he would like to coach at Tulane thru 2030.
So, a year from now, if more Power 5 schools court Fritz, how will Tulane react?
“Well, there are things you can control, and things you can’t control,” said Dannen. “If Notre Dame calls and wants him to be the head football coach, (shrugs his shoulders). We need to make sure if it is about equals, we are not taking one equal over the other. We just gotta keep the guy in a position to win.”
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Ed is a New Orleans native, born at Baptist Hospital. He graduated Rummel High School, class of 1975, and subsequently graduated from Loyola University. Ed started in TV in 1977 as first sports intern at WVUE Channel 8. He became Sports Director at KPLC TV Channel 7 in Lake Charles in 1980. In 1982 he was hired as sports reporter…