Expectations for Tulane high with consecutive winning seasons at stake

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Tulane's Justin McMillan

Back 70 years ago, the good times were rolling for the Tulane football team.

The Green Wave defeated Alabama, Georgia Tech, Auburn, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt and Virginia on the way to a Southeastern Conference championship.

Tulane’s only losses that season were to No. 1 Notre Dame and LSU, the latter a 21-0 defeat that was the first of 24 straight to the Tigers.

Moving forward, at the time, hopes were high.

Since 1949, the football program, except for a few outliers, took a dramatic turn for the worse.

In the 70 years since Tulane was crowned SEC champions, the Green Wave has won at least nine games just three times.

Those teams are easy to recall. The 1973 and 1979 teams defeated LSU. The 1998 team won all 12 games.

Since the Wave cobbled together a third consecutive winning season in 1981, Tulane has had 15 seasons of nine losses or more. That is a staggering number.

Since the Green Wave had those three consecutive winning seasons, the program has only posted back-to-back winning seasons once (1997 and 1998).

That makes this the year of the opportunity. The 2019 Tulane football team can lead the football program on the road to consistent winning.

Winning consistently, for five years or more, is the only way to get noticed in a town with a myriad of entertainment and football options. Tulane football is fighting for the ticket buying fan, and that competition only became more fierce when the New Orleans Pelicans landed the first pick in the NBA draft.

Tulane is fighting for attention in a town where the Saints are Super Bowl contenders, SEC football is played 75 miles away and now the local NBA team has a chance to be special by the combination of drafting Zion Williamson and getting a boat load of assets in an Anthony Davis trade.

Tulane, like all FBS schools, must also fight for attention against the myriad of games broadcast during the fall. All the big games on a Saturday are televised by traditional TV means while dozens more are streamed.

Green Wave head coach Willie Fritz has built the program piece-by-piece. Recruiting has improved and, with a sprinkle of graduate transfers, so has the club’s record.

If not for a TD pass and two point conversion against Navy from graduate transfer Justin McMillan in the 2018 season finale, the offseason narrative would far different. That is, more of the same. However, that campaigned ended with a winning record and bowl victory.

The 2019 Tulane football team will be an interesting watch.

The Green Wave is moving toward a more up tempo offense, and at least three games on the schedule appear to be very large hills to climb (at Auburn, at Army, vs. Central Florida).

Even more interesting will be the team’s ability to handle expectations that come with winning.

That isn’t a word usually in the same zip code with Tulane football. But in 2019, expectations as obvious as a pothole on an Uptown street.

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Ed Daniels

Ed Daniels

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…

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