Green Wave will soon reveal its hidden mysteries
On Thursday night, Sept. 3, Tulane football will have its own "reveal" party. The Green Wave is a 10-point underdog at Yulman Stadium against Duke, a team picked to finish fourth in the Coastal Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
As part of the reveal, Curtis Johnson’s team will answer several questions.
Are the holes in an anemic kicking game plugged?
Will an up-tempo, fewer-formations offense lead to more yards and points?
Can a below-average offensive line from a year ago step up and protect its quarterback?
And, is quarterback Tanner Lee ready to ascend to be one of the best players in the American Athletic Conference?
In 2014, Tulane missed a chip-shot field goal that would have provided a win at Tulsa. But, that game was revealing in itself. The Green Wave could not put away a Tulsa team that was picked near the bottom of the league.
In Johnson’s fourth season, and after only three wins last year, Tulane fans are expecting rapid improvement. If not, the usual grumbling will ensue. It is something Tulane football fans have mastered after years of losing.
In the past 10 seasons, Tulane football has won 33 and lost 88, won 11 times on the road, been favored in two away games and gone 20-60 in conference games.
In three seasons, head coach Johnson has tried to build a program with a consistent philosophy. He recruits heavily in metro New Orleans and southeast Louisiana. He runs a pro-style offense that emphasizes running the football.
And, he puts his best athletes on defense.
Johnson has also cracked down on those he didn’t think were making sufficient academic progress.
Two key contributors on defense, one a likely starter, were put on ice for the 2015 season after allegedly veering off the road to academic progress.
So, what happens this season?
A split of the first two games, Duke and at Georgia Tech, would give the Wave a chance to be bowl eligible.
If Tulane starts 0-2, simple math says it would have to win six of the last 10 games to potentially go bowling.
If another losing season ensues, there will be the usual hue and cry for a coaching change. But, I have a question. Who at Tulane is going to call Tom Benson, the man who donated millions for Yulman Stadium (at Benson Field), to tell him that a former Saints assistant (beloved by the staff) is no longer the football coach?
And, if Johnson can't win, who can?
For you Curtis detractors, here's a stat for you. If Johnson coaches Tulane to a bowl game, he will be the first to ever coach the Green Wave to multiple bowls.
Chris Scelfo coached in two bowl games, but one was after Tommy Bowden departed before the 1998 Liberty Bowl.
That, to me, is revealing, almost as revealing as what we will see at 8:30 on a Thursday night.