Tulane Football: You Get What You Pay For
I am one of the hardcore LSU alumni/fans who does not hate Tulane. I probably grew up a bigger Tulane fan than an LSU fan. My dad was a Tulane season ticket holder, and I was in the Dome for the 2 big wins over LSU in the late 70s/early 80s. The "Dalton-James Gang," Wally English and the Bubby Brister incident changed my allegiances--permanently. But I was still happy for Tulane when they had the perfect season under Tommy Bowden.
So, needless to say, I was happy when LSU whipped Tulane 49-7. But not that happy. It's sad to see how far Tulane has dropped.
Some of the younger people may not realize what Tulane used to be. If you don't know, read this article. It's gone from a national powerhouse in the 1950s to a program that was at the center of a much-publicized debate between the haves and the have-nots a couple of years ago.
Or if you want to get more recent, how did Tulane get from a perfect season to this year in less than a decade? And don't say "Katrina," because this trend started in the early 2000s.
For both, the answer is easy. The decline from the 1950s is due to leaving the SEC and enforcing academic standards for student-athletes (which is not necessarily a bad thing).
The decline from the Tommy Bowden era is, in my opinion, Tulane's fault. It's due to a conscious decision to choose program continuity over building a competitive program. Or specifically:
Chris Scelfo. That's when it happened.
Look, I know it sucks to lose good head coaches. I remember when Larry Smith was on the road out of town when Tulane regained its prominence in 1979. I remember Mack Brown dumping the program the second he had a winning season. And, of course, there's Tommy Bowden. And that's the exact moment when it happened.
Tommy Bowden left for Clemson after the perfect season. He had Rich Rodriguez on his staff. He deserved the job. He wanted the job. But Tulane passed him over, because they didn't want another coach who would leave for a higher-profile program 2 years later. So, instead, Tulane gave the job to a Louisiana native with Tulane connections. It found a guy who wasn't going to leave for greener pastures after a couple of seasons. It found Chris Scelfo. And then, it basically gave Scelfo a "coach for life" offer after one winning season (for the record, he has 2 winning seasons and one bowl appearance--and win--in his 7-plus years at Tulane). It's a noble idea, but there was only one problem.
Chris Scelfo is a terrible head coach. Buddy Teevens bad.
So I don't know how I feel about Tulane. I feel bad for them, but I don't, because it was in part a conscious decision to accept mediocrity. Schools like Boise State and Miami of Ohio have accepted their role as "stepping stone" schools. They lose their coaches to prestigious programs every few years. But they just come right back and find the next-best guy, win some more, and then lose that guy too. They are proof that you can keep on winning in spite of being under-funded athletic programs from non-BCS conferences, and in spite of losing coaches every few years. Tulane decided to hop off that train, and Tulane is where it is today. Staring down the barrel of another 2-9 season.
I want Tulane football to come back and be relevant again. I don't want to see the program disappear and use Katrina as the cop-out excuse. But it's not gonna happen until Tulane accepts its current role in the college football landscape. And that means firing Chris Scelfo and finding a coach who might leave once he becomes successful.
Because there will be another promising young coach to replace him if you make an effort to find him.
So, there's your dose of sports for the weekend. More Tuesday morning after the Saints game. But until then, back to other issues.
TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Tulane, Green Wave, Chris Scelfo