“We have everything going for us but history,” said Tulane’s director of athletics Troy Dannen.
Dannen’s comments raised a few eyebrows at the first meeting of the 2017 season of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation Quarterback Club. He continued: “Everyone says, in 1973, we beat LSU 14-nothing. Well, that’s great.”
“We are not recruiting a kid right now who was born before the year 2000. Anything that happens before the year 2000 is irrelevant when it comes to competitive history for what we want to do from a recruiting standpoint.”
When it comes to recruiting, Mr. Dannen is correct. Many of the players of today don’t seem to be concerned about what happened in the last 30 minutes, much less the last 30 days or 30 years.
But, on Saturday night, during the first home game of the season, LSU is still running on its video boards Billy Cannon’s famous Halloween night run. Watching Cannon run the down the east sideline 89 yards with an Ole Miss punt for the game-winner in 1959 never gets tiresome.
No one in a massive Tiger Stadium crowd seemed to be indifferent.
After a practice in August, LSU posted a picture of Cannon hugging running back Derrius Guice. The only Heisman winner in LSU history was encouraging a current player who can certainly be in Heisman consideration this season.
According to LSU, Cannon told Guice the following: “I am waiting for you.”
Now, that’s special. In New Orleans sports, history is important. It is part of the fabric that connects us as a city and a region.
And, it starts in high school sports.
Edna Karr High has won state or class football titles under three different head coaches. Don Wattigny and Jabbar Juluke are as much of the Karr fabric as current coach Brice Brown.
At St. Augustine, the shadow of former football coach Otis Washington still looms over the school, 38 years after Washington won the last of his three state football crowns.
In places like Destrehan, Hahnville and Lutcher, the only teams that are truly remembered are the ones that get to the Superdome and win.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl sells history. Former MVPs include Bo Jackson, Archie Manning, Tim Tebow and Herschel Walker. Those four are among the greatest to ever play in the Southeastern Conference.
The SEC sells history. Its slogan – “It just means more” – may seem a little haughty, but it is absolutely true.
Tulane has history. Baseball has had only five head coaches since 1967. Coaches like Milt Retif, Joe Brockhoff and Rick Jones should always be prominent.
Tulane has played in three men’s NCAA basketball tournaments, all under former head coach Perry Clark. That’s special.
The 1970 Tulane football team beat Colorado in the Liberty Bowl. Only 11 teams won bowl games that season. That’s special.
This fall, that team will be inducted into the school’s hall of fame. It is an honor long overdue and one Dannen certainly supported wholeheartedly.
The 1998 team not only finished unbeaten but ranked seventh in the nation. That’s special.
I understand what Dannen was saying. It is time to make some new history. And, he’s correct.
But I would like to see Tulane sell its history even more.
And, there’s plenty of it.
Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26 WGNO. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.