Lighter schedule load a plus for new Wave coach
He's inheriting a Tulane football team that has produced back-to-back, three-win seasons.
But, moving forward, new Green Wave football coach Willie Fritz has several items in his favor. The 2016 schedule will not be nearly as daunting as 2015.
Duke and Georgia Tech are off the schedule.
Coming on are the following: Wake Forest (three wins, only one in the ACC), UMass (3-9), and Southern University (6-5 in the SWAC).
Next season, the American Athletic Conference likely won’t be as tough as it was in 2015.
The University of Memphis lost head coach Justin Fuente to Virginia Tech, and the Tigers’ quarterback Paxton Lynch, only a junior, is a likely early draft entrant and likely first-round pick.
Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds will not return.
Reynolds, a senior, set the FBS record for career rushing touchdowns (he currently has 85).
Two Tulane first-team, all-conference selections – linebacker Nico Marley and defensive tackle Tanzel Smart – are both juniors.
Fritz’s biggest plus is that he is the most significant hire by new director of athletics Troy Dannen.
No person on the Tulane campus is more heavily invested in making sure that Fritz is successful.
When he was hired, Dannen spoke of spending competitively for a quality head coach and assistants. And he talked about recruiting nationally, which takes money.
Dannen can push for much-needed items, like a new weight room, nutritional center for athletes and more academic support.
When Dannen was hired, he talked of removing all the “roadblocks” so his head coach and his coaches can just go coach football.
Having a Tulane football coach work with few internal obstacles would be a welcomed change.
Questions are plenty.
Fritz has won, and he’s done it with offenses that are run-heavy.
What does that mean for quarterback Tanner Lee, a true pocket passer?
Can Fritz’s style of play and winning pedigree allow him and his staff to attract good players to campus in the limited time college coaches can recruit after the dead period ends after the bowl games?
Based on the fact that Tulane hired a head coach who led his team to a bowl game, this may be the most significant football hire since the end of the 1984 season.
That's when the Green Wave hired Mack Brown, the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma.
Brown coached Tulane to the Independence Bowl in his final season, then departed for North Carolina.
Fritz was clearly looking for a new challenge.
And, if he wins at Tulane, he can parlay his success into a head coaching job at a Power 5 school.
Which wouldn’t be a bad thing.
The key for Tulane is to construct a program that al- lows for consistent winning, even in the midst of coaching changes.
The University of Houston counts Baylor coach Art Briles and Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin as alums.
And, in 2015, the Cougars won the American Athletic Conference championship.
Head coach Tom Herman is staying, for now. But when he goes, Houston won’t have a problem attracting a quality replacement.
It is a dilemma Tulane would like to have.