Holiday cheer for Tulane football supporters craving a winning program
Holiday cheer is in the air for Tulane football.
That doesn’t happen often.
For a program that has produced only six winning regular seasons since 1987, optimism now is as high as it has been since the 1998 team finished off a perfect season.
Green Wave head coach Willie Fritz seemed quite pleased Wednesday with his 22 signees in the early period.
“I don’t go by rankings, but a lot of people do. This will be one of the highest ranked classes that Tulane has had before, which is good,” said Fritz. “A lot of student athletes, fans and high school coaches really look at that.”
With a constant flow of losing football seasons, Tulane has fought a subsequent losing battle in the all important game of perception.
But that appears to be changing.
After two years, high school coaches know Fritz and his staff, are familiar his system and, more importantly, can see progress on the field.
Tulane came within inches of scoring the winning touchdown in the season finale against SMU. A victory would have made the Wave bowl eligible.
Meantime, Tulane director of athletics Troy Dannen said the school is working on a new six year contract extension for Fritz.
The length would mirror the original deal Fritz signed with he arrived at Tulane two years ago this month.
Dannen is also working on funding for a new athletic building that would include a much needed modernization of a somewhat antiquated weight room.
Let’s not forget that it will never be easy to win and draw crowds at Tulane.
The school will only yield so much on its academic standards.
It resides in a city with numerous sports and leisure opportunities. The athletic department has to battle NFL and NBA teams, an SEC school 80 miles north, untold festivals and quality restaurants for attention and the entertainment dollar.
Yet, there is only one way to crack that nut – consistent winning.
The 1979 through 1981 seasons marked the last time the Green Wave posted three consecutive winning football seasons. What Tulane needs is that, and more of it.
Dannen’s hire Fritz gives them their best chance. Dannen has the support of University heirarchy.
So, if the school can provide better facilities and a pathway for above average athletes to get into and stay in the school, the arrow for Tulane’s football program could be pointed up.
In the past, Tulane has hired good football coaches who departed for bigger opportunities.
After the 1970 Liberty Bowl, Jim Pittman left for TCU.
After the 1979 Liberty Bowl, Larry Smith was out the door for Arizona.
After an 11-0 regular season in 1998, Tommy Bowden departed for Clemson.
Tulane may now have a coach who can win and maybe even stay.
During this holiday season, that is an unexpected double that signals Christmas cheer for Tulane football fans.
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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…