It was to be a great home field advantage. The tailgating was to be fantastic. The parking plan to accommodate thousands of fans arriving at Yulman Stadium was to be extensive.
Four years after the new stadium opened, Tulane’s return to campus for football has been a dud. Stadiums don’t make tackles or throw touchdown passes. Stadiums don’t make game-winning field goals.
Since Tulane moved football back on campus for the 2014 season, the Green Wave owns five wins over FBS schools. In Tulane’s last season at the Superdome, the Green Wave won five games over FBS schools.
But, you know, the Superdome didn’t cut it. It was cavernous. No one attended the games. There was no atmosphere.
Going home was going to remedy that. Recruits would walk into Yulman Stadium and say, “I really want to play my college football here.”
Pardon me, but if I were the football coach at Tulane, I would bring my recruits to the Superdome and tell them this: “You will play your home games at one of the most iconic arenas in the world.”
Yulman Stadium is just one of the many mistakes made over the years by Tulane athletics. For half of what Yulman cost, Tulane could have built a first-class edifice. It could have been one with an indoor practice facility, a state-of-the-art weight room and all the amenities that attract excellent athletes to your campus.
Option Two would have been to build a basketball arena (with ample parking) to replace (pre) historic Devlin Fieldhouse.
Instead two philanthropic individuals, Richard Yulman and Saints owner Tom Benson, sank their money into an $80 million diversionary tactic.
For a while, it worked. No one was talking about how Tulane hadn’t won a bowl game since 2002. No one was addressing the real issues. That is, years and years and years of losing football had chased away the paying customer.
That is, the New Orleanian who didn’t have a Tulane degree, but supported the school because it was our city’s Division I football program.
Instead, we heard of how the student section at Yulman Stadium would swell with future graduates and radiate enthusiasm.
So, as he nears the end of his second season, those who still care are already starting to sour on a head coach who has won at all of his previous stops. But, this is Tulane, a place that has frustrated many of Willie Fritz’s predecessors.
The Tulane football coach is like Sisyphus, who in Greek mythology, pushed the rock up the hill, only to see it roll straight back down. According to the Greeks, Sisyphus would repeat the same act, over and over, for eternity.
The Tulane football coach, and the school’s football fans, can identify. It might be an eternity before Tulane University finally gets around to truly answering the only relevant question about its football program: Why aren’t we winning?
Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26 WGNO. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.