LSU, Tulane face “real” road tests after opening week blowout wins
NEW ORLEANS – “This week,” LSU deputy athletic director Verge Ausberry said, “it gets real.”
He was talking about his sixth-ranked Tigers’ trip to Austin, but he could have also been speaking of Tulane’s visit to Auburn. Both games kick off at 6:30 p.m.
“That’s why you come to LSU, to play Texas, Clemson, UCLA, Florida State,” Ausberry said of the Tigers’ non-conference schedule over the next decade Tuesday at the Greater New Orleans Quarterback Club Tuesday at Rock ‘n’ Bowl. “It’s a good test for our program.”
Both LSU and Tulane are coming off impressive opening-day wins at home – the Tigers over Georgia Southern, the Green Wave over FIU.
“We opened the year with a great win,” Ausberry said of the 55-3 victory over Georgia Southern. “Every year starts off with a different team and different chemistry. We really didn’t know what we had. We knew we had a good football team coming back; we didn’t know how good.
“(Texas is) a very tough football game early in the year. It prepares you for the SEC schedule. This is a big one for our program and the University of Texas program.”
While Texas will return the visit to Tiger Stadium next September, the Tulane-Auburn game is a guarantee game.
“Auburn’s paying us $1.9375 million,” said Tulane athletic director Troy Dannen, who was also among Tuesday’s speakers, “the largest pure guarantee in the history of college football.”
Dannen directed that comment at Ausberry in a tongue-in-cheek, future-scheduling way.
Dannen said that not only has the talent improved in Willie Fritz’s four years at Tulane, but he’s improved the culture inside the Green Wave locker room.
“Willie will tell you that Thursday was the first time we’ve taken the field with enough talent at each position to win the league,” Dannen said. “We’ve got to get the talent on our roster to win the league. You can have the greatest coaches in the world, but if you don’t have the talent, it doesn’t matter.”
Though the oddsmakers may suggest differently, Dannen says this week has a different feel than trips the last two years to Oklahoma and Ohio State.
“This is the first time we’ve walked into one of those games expecting to win the game,” he said. “If you don’t have the culture, you have no chance to succeed. The culture is present inside the program; now we’ve got to get the culture outside the program.”
The LSU-Texas game will be televised by ABC, while the Tulane-Auburn game will air on ESPN2.
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Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…