Signs indicate that Wave is on road to recovery
The won-loss records are hard to ignore: 5-17, 11-23, 14-31, 11-45, 37-57, 15-46 and 15-34.
Those are the records of the Tulane football coaches, minus Tommy Bowden, since 1983.
Bowden was the true outlier, going 18-4 in two seasons, including a perfect 12-0 in 1998.
The combined records of the others are 108 wins, 253 losses.
So, why should anyone in his or her right mind think Willie Fritz is going to win?
I think he is.
Not right now. His team isn’t talented enough and does not have enough depth. But in the several practices I have witnessed this spring, I’ve seen good signs.
Fritz has a solid way about him. He can get on players one minute, then pat them on the back the next. His players seem to have responded to a heavy dose of attention to detail and discipline.
Practices are organized and timed to the minute.
“We are supposed to finish at 10:15 (a.m.), and we finished at 10:15,” said a staffer to reporters.
Tulane has yet to suffer its first big defeat under Fritz, or its first three-game losing streak, but players appear to have confidence in what he and his staff are teaching.
“We are going to surprise a lot of people because they are not going to expect us to be as fast as we are going to be this year,” said senior running back Josh Rounds. “It is totally different from last year. (Opponents) have no film to look at it.”
It is hard to ignore Fritz’s résumé as a head coach. He won two junior college national titles at Blinn and led Central Missouri to its first post-season berth in 32 years.
After leading Sam Houston State to back-to-back FCS championship games, he left for Georgia Southern, where he won 17 games in two years.
And, the timing for Fritz is right. Tulane president Michael Fitts has given director of athletics Troy Dannen a charge to fix the department – and the football program.
For Fritz, recruiting is key, and he is casting a wide net, from Georgia and Florida to Texas.
In Louisiana, LSU can’t sign every good player in the state.
But, can Fritz get the second-level player who now leaves the state?
For years, prominent Tulane football alums have lamented that the Green Wave isn’t in the mix when it comes to recruiting the state’s blue-chip talent.
My response has been pretty consistent: When Tulane gets serious about its football program, they will be back in the mix.
Maybe that day has arrived. Maybe I am delusional. Maybe in April, I have a case of spring football fever, one that will break when losses suddenly mount in September and October.
But maybe a coach who is compensated well and has been given cash to hire a good staff does what he does best – turn around losing programs.
If Fritz was looking for a new challenge, he found one as wide as the Gulf of Mexico. But, if he wins, pretty soon, put me down as one who will not be surprised.