Expectations build for another big Tulane football season
June in Louisiana just does something to our state’s football fans.
As the temperature rises, so does pigskin expectation.
The Saints surely are going to win NFC South. If you talk to enough fans who have spent too much time in the heat, they will tell their Saints have an outside shot at the Super Bowl.
Oh, and did you know that LSU was going to make a return to the College Football Playoff for the first time since 2019?
And of course, Tulane is the preseason favorite in the American Athletic Conference and has an outside shot at a perfect regular season.
Yep, I read at least part of that in one of those multitude of college football preseason preview magazines.
Tulane Green Wave, favorites to win their league and win 10 games.
There it was in print. So, it must be true.
There are some parallels to draw between the 2023 Green Wave and the 1998 unbeaten team that finished 7th nationally.
That ’98 Wave had an outstanding returning quarterback, Shaun King. One quarter of a century later, Michael Pratt, who flirted with the transfer portal, returns after accounting for 37 touchdowns the year before.
The 1998 team had a passel of experienced quality defensive lineman.
Twenty five years later, defensive tackle Patrick Jenkins and defensive end Darius Hodges anchor a line that is deep and experienced.
Even though Tulane lost its top five tacklers, there’s talent and depth both at linebacker and in the secondary.
The 1998 team was coached by Tommy Bowden, who at the end of that regular season left for Clemson.
Willie Fritz caused a mild tremor in college football world when he spurned Georgia Tech to remain at Tulane.
It’s true that the Wave, even though it lost running back Tyjae Spears to the NFL Draft, has a lot of assets returning. Amongst them is a schedule that doesn’t include Central Florida, Cincinnati or the University of Houston. All three bolted for the Big 12.
All three of those departees, until last season, were a burr in Tulane’s saddle as the Wave tried to win a league crown in football for the first time in 24 years.
On the college football team win totals listed by Vegas Insider, only one conference team on the Tulane football schedule, Memphis (8.5), had a win total more than 7.5. The Green Wave has to play the Tigers in Memphis, a place where the Green Wave has been perpetually bad.
There is potential good news from the schedule. Of the 24 head coaching changes in the Football Bowl Subdivision, three (North Texas, Tulsa, UAB) are on Tulane’s 2023 schedule.
There are, however, other potential struggles for Tulane in 2023.
Ole Miss (win total at 7.5) is certainly one of those potential pitfalls in week two.
However, from that game all the way to the final game of the season when Tulane faces two-time Conference USA champion and AAC newcomer UTSA, the Wave figures to be favored in every game but perhaps the Memphis trip.
Expectation has already impacted Tulane football season tickets. A school spokesman, when asked, would not give a specific number, but said renewals were at 90 percent, and new season ticket sales were up 800 percent.
That sounds like a lot of folks with high expectation.
Last season, there was total buy in on the Willie Fritz mantra of being “1-0 today.” Early in June, as football fans in south Louisiana dream of their favorite season fast approaching, it is fun to be a tad unrealistic.
In uptown New Orleans, expectation is through the roof, much like it was a generation ago.
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WGNO Sports Director/106.1 FM
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…