Year-By-Year Summaries (1970s)

TULANEGREENWAVE.COM In addition to playing in the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl, the 1973 Tulane squad defeated LSU, 14-0, before 86,598 fans - the largest football crowd in the history of the sport at that time.
In addition to playing in the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl, the 1973 Tulane squad defeated LSU, 14-0, before 86,598 fans - the largest football crowd in the history of the sport at that time.

1970 (8-4)
Head Coach: Jim Pittman

Billboards and bumper stickers plastered all over New Orleans proclaimed 1970 as the "Year of the Green." Tulane's football team backed up the claim, earning a bid to the Liberty Bowl where they defeated Colorado. Coach Jim Pittman's final Tulane team compiled an 8-4 mark, the most wins for the Green Wave since 1948 and only the second winning season for the program in 14 years.

Seniors Rick Kingrea, Mike Walker and David Abercrombie captained the 1970 team. The defense returned 10 starters from 1969 and Paul Ellis, Joe Bullard and David Hebert formed a secondary that picked off a school-record 28 passes on what was to be one of the Green Wave's all-time great defensive units.

Offensively, Abercrombie set a school record with 246 yards rushing against North Carolina State on his way to 993 yards rushing. Through the air, quarterback Mike Walker and receiver Steve Barrios connected on some big plays, as Walker set a season record for yards per completion and Barrios set a season record for yards per catch.

After a 7-4 regular season, the Green Wave received its first bowl invite since the 1939 Sugar Bowl. Tulane was given little chance in the Liberty Bowl against a Colorado team averaging over 400 yards of total offense per game, but the Green Wave defense limited the Buffaloes to 175 yards. The final score of 17-3 sounded closer than it really was. The week after the game, Jim Pittman accepted an offer to coach TCU.


Date  Opponent                Location            Tul/Opp  Score  Result  Attendance
S12   at Texas Tech           Lubbock, Texas               14-21    L     43,250
S19   Georgia                 New Orleans, La.     NR/19   17-14    W     30,294
S26   at Illinois             Champaign, Ill.              23-9     W     27,864
O3    at Cincinnati           Cincinnati, Ohio             6-3      W     11,324
O10   at Air Force            Colorado Spr., Colo. NR/8    3-24     L     31,508
O17   North Corolina          New Orleans, La.             24-17    W     23,900
O24   at Georgia Tech         Atlanta, Ga.                 6-20     L     32,129
O31   at Vanderbilt           Nashville, Tenn.             10-7     W     19,000
N7    Miami (Fla.)            New Orleans, La.             31-16    W     23,250
N21   North Carolina State    New Orleans, La.             31-0     W     19,542
N28   LSU                     New Orleans, La.     NR/7    14-26    L     81,233
D12   Colorado                Memphis, Tenn.               17-3     W     44,640

1971 (3-8)
Head Coach: Bennie Ellender

Former Tulane quarterback Bennie Ellender returned to his alma mater as head coach after leading Arkansas State to a college division national championship in 1970. Excitement ran high entering 1971, but the results, unfortunately, did not match those expectations as Tulane lost its last five games to finish 3-8. Texas Tech was TU's first victim as sophomore defensive end Mike Truax blocked a fourth-quarter punt to spark a come-from-behind victory. The Green Wave dropped its next three games, then rallied to beat North Carolina and Pittsburgh to even the season record before going into a five-game slide.

Senior wide receiver Steve Barrios missed the first four games, but his return against North Carolina gave the Wave a boost as he caught touchdown passes of 56 and 42 yards. The next weekend, Barrios became the first Tulane receiver to gain 1,000 career yards as he caught three passes for 76 yards in a 33-8 win over Pitt.

Running back Ricky Hebert rushed for 819 yards, highlighted by a 124-yard performance against LSU. Tulane had two 100-yard returns that fall on an interception by David Hebert against Rice and a kickoff by Coleman Dupre against North Carolina.

Date  Opponent                Location            Tul/Opp  Score  Result  Attendance
S11   Texas Tech              New Orleans, La.             15-9     W     21,378
S18   at Georgia              Athens, Ga.          NR/11   7-17     L     51,542
S25   at Rice                 Houston, Texas               11-14    L     25,000
O2    William & Mary          New Orleans, La.             3-14     L     17,392
O9    at North Carolina       Chapel Hill, N.C.    NR/18   37-29    W     39,500
O16   Pittsburgh              New Orleans, La.             33-8     W     17,650
O23   Georgia Tech            New Orleans, La.             16-24    L     50,248
O30   Vanderbilt              New Orleans, La.             9-13     L     17,941
N6    Ohio                    New Orleans, La.             7-30     L     9,922
N13   at Notre Dame           South Bend, Ind.     NR/8    7-21     L     59,075
N27   at LSU                  Baton Rouge, La.     NR/10   7-36     L     59,897

1972 (6-5)
Head Coach: Bennie Ellender

Relentless defense and the emergence of sophomore quarterback Steve Foley put Coach Bennie Ellender's second Tulane team back in the win column in 1972, and the 6-5 record could have been a lot better.

One of those "losses" came when Miami was inadvertently awarded a fifth down with barely over a minute left in the game, which they used to score the winning touchdown. Another loss came in the season finale when the Tulane fullback was stopped a foot short of the winning TD as time expired.

Defensive back George Ewing accomplished more in 1972 than most players do in a whole career. In spite of losing two games to injury, Ewing scored five return TDs, scoring on three punts and two interceptions.

The Green Wave's 1972 defense was one of the best in school history as six opponents scored fewer than 10 points. Glenn Harder, Mike Mullen, Harold Asher and Rusty Chambers gave Tulane one of its deepest linebacking corps ever, while sensational sophomore Charles Hall provided a dominating presence up front. Defensive end Randy Lee and safety David Lee provided Tulane with one of the most effective brother combinations in its history.

Date  Opponent                Location            Tul/Opp  Score  Result  Attendance
S16   at Boston College       Boston, Mass.                10-0     W     27,411
S23   Georgia                 New Orleans, La.     NR/16   24-13    W     43,084
S30   at Michigan             Ann Arbor, Mich.     18/8    7-41     L     84,162
O7    Pittsburgh              New Orleans, La.             38-6     W     20,417
O14   at Miami (Fla.)         Miami, Fla.                  21-24    L     18,956
O21   at West Virginia        Morgantown, W.Va.            19-31    L     29,500
O28   at Georgia Tech         Atlanta, Ga.                 7-21     L     48,096
N4    Kentucky                New Orleans, La.             18-7     W     18,377
N11   Ohio                    New Orleans, La.             44-6     W     17,535
N18   at Vanderbilt           Nashville, Tenn.             21-7     W     10,532
D4    LSU                     NEW ORLEANS          NR/11   3-9      L     85,372

1973 (9-3)
Head Coach: Bennie Ellender

Coach Bennie Ellender fielded his most successful football team in 1973, as quarterback Steve Foley and All-America defensive tackle Charles Hall led the way to a 9-2 regular season and an invitation to the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston.

The Green Wave won its first six games for the school's best start since 1934, but the highlight of the year was the season finale with LSU. In that game, the Green Wave beat the Tigers for the first time since 1948, taking a 14-0 win before a beyond-capacity crowd of 86,598 in Tulane Stadium.

Foley led the 1973 team in both passing and rushing and was named MVP at season's end. He ran for two TDs in the season opener with Boston College, broke a 72-yard TD run to start off a rout over VMI, threw the winning TD pass with nine seconds left against Duke and scampered for 181 yards (the most ever by a Tulane QB) against Vanderbilt to clinch the bowl bid.

Hall and sophomore middle guard Mark Olivari created havoc in the middle of the defensive line and junior linebacker Rusty Chambers made 153 tackles as five opponents were held to six points or less. The defense shut out VMI, North Carolina and LSU. It was a year to remember, as only the 1931 and 1934 teams had won more games in one season. In the bowl game against Houston, an explosive Cougar squad romped 47-7 in the Astrodome.


Date  Opponent                Location            Tul/Opp  Score  Result  Attendance
S22   Boston College          New Orleans, La.             21-16    W     33,880
S29   VMI                     New Orleans, La.             42-0     W     25,037
O6    at Pittsburgh           Pittsburgh, Pa.              24-6     W     25,054
O13   at Duke                 Durham, N.C.         18/NR   24-17    W     20,500
O20   North Carolina          New Orleans, La.     17/NR   16-0     W     38,502
O27   Georgia Tech            New Orleans, La.     15/NR   23-14    W     66,826
N3    at Kentucky             Lexington, Ky.       14/NR   7-34     L     49,360
N10   Navy                    New Orleans, La.             17-15    W     40,135
N17   Vanderbilt              New Orleans, La.             24-3     W     31,199
N24   at Maryland             College Park, Md.    17/NR   9-42     L     19,416
D1    LSU                     New Orleans, La.     NR/8    14-0     W     86,598
D29   at Houston              Houston, Texas       17/14   7-47     L     44,358

1974 (5-6) Head Coach: Bennie Ellender

With senior quarterback Steve Foley continuing his inspired play from the season before, Coach Bennie Ellender's fourth Tulane team roared to a 5-0 start. The fifth win was by 30-3 over The Citadel, as Foley ran for 142 of the team's 340 rushing yards. At this point, Ellender had coached Tulane to 17 wins in its last 20 regular season games.

Game six was a regionally-televised game against Georgia Tech in Atlanta, and Foley appeared to be driving Tulane toward a go-ahead score early in the second half when he broke his foot on a goal-line scramble. Tulane did not win another game that season and ended up 5-6, a dramatic indication of the value a healthy Steve Foley brought to the Green Wave football program.

On a cold, damp Nov. 30 afternoon the Green Wave played its last game ever in Tulane Stadium, dropping a 26-10 decision to Ole Miss.

Date  Opponent                Location            Tul/Opp  Score  Result  Attendance
S14   UL-Lafayette            New Orleans, La.             17-16    W     29,878
S21   at Army                 West Point, N.Y.             31-14    W     30,279
S28   West Virginia           New Orleans, La.             17-14    W     31,647
O12   at Air Force            Colorado Spr., Colo.         10-3     W     26,244
O19   The Citadel             New Orleans, La.     20/NR   30-3     W     41,399
O26   at Georgia Tech         Atlanta, Ga.         18/NR   7-27     L     48,623
N2    Kentucky                New Orleans,La.              7-30     L     38,384
N9    at Boston College       Boston, Mass.                3-27     L     17,002
N16   at Vanderbilt           Nashville, Tenn.             22-30    L     22,400
N23   at LSU                  Baton Rouge, La.             22-24    L     66,017
N30   Ole Miss                New Orleans, La.             10-26    L     44,208

1975 (4-7)
Head Coach: Bennie Ellender

Coach Bennie Ellender's last Tulane team got off to another strong start, but this time a late season losing streak cost him his job. Despite losing starting quarterback Terry Looney to a season-ending knee injury the week before the opener, Tulane defeated Ole Miss 14-3 in the first college game played in the Louisiana Superdome. Senior Buddy Gilbert took over the quarterback job and delivered, establishing season records for passes completed and passing yards. His favorite target was senior Jaime Garza, who led Tulane in receiving for the third straight season.

After a 4-2 start, the Green Wave lost five in a row to finish 4-7. The squad remained competitive during that streak, losing a one-point decision to Air Force and a two-point decision to North Carolina on a last-second field goal. The season ended unpleasantly, however, as LSU topped the Green Wave 42-6.

Date  Opponent                Location            Tul/Opp  Score  Result  Attendance
S13   at Clemson              Clemson, S.C.                17-13    W     45,100
S20   Ole Miss                New Orleans, La.             14-3     W     50,000
S27   Syracuse                New Orleans, La.             13-31    L     33,200
O4    Vanderbilt              New Orleans, La.             3-6      L     30,100
O11   at Boston College       Boston, Mass.                17-7     W     11,775
O18   at West Virginia        Morgantown, W.Va.            16-14    W     33,842
O25   Georgia Tech            New Orleans, La.             0-23     L     63,333
N1    at Kentucky             Lexington, Ky.               10-23    L     56,500
N8    Air Force               New Orleans, La.             12-13    L     31,790
N15   North Carolina          New Orleans, La.             15-17    L     29,850
N22   LSU                     New Orleans, La.             6-42     L     70,850

1976 (2-9)
Head Coach: Larry Smith

Coach Larry Smith took over the Tulane helm for the 1976 season, and things got worse before they got better. The unquestioned bright spot in a 2-9 season was the presence of freshman quarterback Roch Hontas. Hontas completed 61-of-114 pass attempts for 697 yards as a part-time starter that fall, the first of four seasons that he would lead Tulane in passing. His favorite target was junior Zack Mitchell, the first tight end to ever lead Tulane in receiving.

In addition to Hontas, Smith brought another all-time great to the Tulane campus in 1976 in the person of Canadian Ed Murray, who went on to break just about every Green Wave place-kicking record.

The Green Wave wins were over Vanderbilt and Army, the latter victory featuring a 96-yard interception return by Arthur Green.

Date  Opponent                Location            Tul/Opp  Score  Result  Attendance
S11   Cincinnati              New Orleans, La.             14-21    L     29,134
S18   at Ole Miss             Oxford, Miss.        NR/20   7-34     L     33,231
S25   Boston College          New Orleans, La.     NR/18   3-27     L     20,235
O2    at Vanderbilt           Nashville, Tenn.             24-13    W     21,000
O9    at Syracuse             Syracuse, N.Y.               0-3      L     11,223
O16   Army                    New Orleans, La.             23-10    W     25,327
O23   at Georgia Tech         Atlanta, Ga.                 16-28    L     31,214
O30   Memphis                 New Orleans, La.             7-14     L     25,879
N6    West Virginia           New Orleans, La.             28-32    L     29,327
N13   Rutgers                 New Orleans, La.             20-29    L     28,872
N20   at LSU                  Baton Rouge, La.             7-17     L     64,318

1977 (3-8)
Head Coach: Larry Smith

Sophomore Roch Hontas was the bright spot in a 3-8 season as he completed a school record 63.4 percent of his pass attempts, including 33-of-42 passes for 373 yards versus SMU in one of the top passing performances in Green Wave history up to that time. Coach Larry Smith added a key building block when he brought in running back Marvin Christian, who would lead Tulane in rushing the next three seasons. Christian showed promise of things to come with a 142-yard rushing performance against Stanford.

The Green Wave was a bit more competitive than the season before as it lost four games by four points or less. Hontas and Christian owed much of their offensive success to an improved offensive line, led by senior offensive tackle Eric Laakso, who went on to a fine NFL career with the Miami Dolphins.

Date  Opponent                Location            Tul/Opp  Score  Result  Attendance
S10   at Memphis              Memphis, Tenn.               9-27     L     26,792
S17   Stanford                New Orleans, La.             17-21    L     30,482
S24   at SMU                  Dallas, Texas                23-28    L     18,460
O1    Vanderbilt              New Orleans, La.             36-7     W     21,483
O8    at Boston College       Boston, Mass.                28-30    L     18,577
O15   Cincinnati              New Orleans, La.             16-13    W     22,546
O22   Georgia Tech            New Orleans, La.             14-38    L     28,345
O29   at Pittsburgh           Pittsburgh, Pa.      NR/13   0-48     L     46,273
N5    at Miami (Fla.)         Miami, Fla.                  13-10    W     20,140
N12   at Rutgers              Piscataway, N.J.             8-47     L     16,500
N19   LSU                     New Orleans, La.             17-20    L     72,025

1978 (4-7)
Head Coach: Larry Smith

Coach Larry Smith's third Tulane team came on strong at the end of the season to augur the bright future to come. After dropping its first four games, the 1978 squad finished 4-3 to gain momentum toward what would be an outstanding 1979 campaign.

Junior quarterback Roch Hontas had another fine season as he became the first Tulane passer to complete more than 100 passes in a season twice. Against Memphis, Hontas delivered an 80-yard TD bomb to Darrell Griffin, then the longest pass in Tulane history. Marvin Christian had an outstanding season, gaining 879 yards, one of the top marks in school history at the time. Junior Ed Murray kicked a 54-yard field goal against Memphis, tying the school record. On defense, Frank Robinson and Marty Wetzel each had more than 100 tackles.

Date  Opponent                Location            Tul/Opp  Score  Result  Attendance
S9    at Maryland             College Park, Md.            7-31     L     31,458
S16   Pittsburgh              New Orleans, La.     NR/14   6-24     L     32,658
S23   at Georgia Tech         Atlanta, Ga.                 17-27    L     25,205
S30   at Stanford             Palo Alto, Calif.    NR/20   14-17    L     40,111
O7    at Vanderbilt           Nashville, Tenn.             38-3     W     27,600
O14   Boston College          New Orleans, La.             9-3      W     27,177
O21   TCU                     New Orleans, La.             7-13     L     22,748
O28   Memphis                 New Orleans, La.             41-24    W     19,127
N4    Miami (Fla.)            New Orleans, La.             20-16    W     20,045
N11   at Ole Miss             Oxford, Miss.                3-13     L     28,580
N25   at LSU                  Baton Rouge, La.             21-40    L     75,876

1979 (9-3)
Head Coach: Larry Smith

The 1979 squad won as many games as Coach Larry Smith's first three teams combined and finished the regular season 9-2 to earn an invitation to play Penn State in the Liberty Bowl.

The offensive leader was senior quarterback Roch Hontas, who completed 215-of-367 pass attempts for 2,345 yards and 21 TDs to set single-season records.

His favorite targets were wide receiver Alton Alexis and tight end Rodney Holman, who set a season receiving record with 47 catches each. Marvin Christian led Tulane in rushing for the third consecutive season. Kicker Ed Murray was perfect on 35 extra point attempts and set a season record for kicking points, as he was named to the All-South Independent team for the fourth straight season.

Late in the year, the team went on one of the greatest tears in modern Tulane history, outscoring Boston College, Ole Miss and LSU by a combined score of 116-36. In the Liberty Bowl against Penn State, the Nittany Lions won a battle of field goals, 9-6. Following the season, Smith accepted the head coaching position at the University of Arizona.

Date  Opponent                Location            Tul/Opp  Score  Result  Attendance
S8    Stanford                New Orleans, La.     NR/13   33-10    W     44,326
S15   at Rice                 Houston, Texas               17-21    L     20,000
S22   at TCU                  Fort Worth, Texas            33-19    W     15,203
S29   SMU                     New Orleans, La.     NR/19   24-17    W     42,563
O6    Vanderbilt              New Orleans, La.             42-14    W     27,873
O13   at Southern Miss        Hattiesburg, Miss.           20-19    W     30,028
O20   at West Virginia        Morgantown, W.Va.            17-27    L     28,303
O27   Georgia Tech            New Orleans, La.             12-7     W     51,963
N3    at Boston College       Boston, Mass.                43-8     W     12,236
N10   Ole Miss                New Orleans, La.             49-15    W     45,647
N17   LSU                     New Orleans, La.     20/NR   24-13    W     73,496
D22   Penn State              Memphis, Tenn.       15/NR   6-9      L     50,021