The 1987 Green Wave scored more points than any other team in Tulane team in the first 100 years of the program. Marc Zeno closed his career as the NCAA's career leader with 3,725 receiving yards.
Head Coach: Vince Gibson
New head coach Vince Gibson led Tulane to a 7-4 regular season record and an invitation to the Hall of Fame Bowl, marking the first time the Green Wave participated in postseason play in consecutive seasons.
Senior quarterback Nickie Hall, who had spent three seasons in the shadow of the great Roch Hontas, finally got his chance and delivered, tying Hontas' single-season TD pass mark of 21 while passing and running for a school-record 174 points. Against SMU, Hall set a total offense record with 384 yards, including an 84-yard pass to Marcus Anderson, then the longest in school history. Against Rice, Hall threw five TD passes and Robert Griffin caught four of them.
Defensively, linebackers Frank Robinson, Marty Wetzel and middle guard Wilfred Simon all had more than 100 tackles for the second consecutive season. Cornerback Lionel Washington, who went on to a fine NFL career with the Raiders, led the team with five interceptions.
The 1980 season was not short on exciting finishes, as kicker Vince Manalla kicked field goals to beat Ole Miss and Kentucky with no time remaining. After a 2-3 start, Tulane won five in a row to clinch the bowl bid. Win No. 5 was a special one, as Hall ran for two TDs and passed for another to lead Tulane to its first win over Georgia Tech in Atlanta since 1933.
Ranking Date Opponent Location Tul/Opp Score Result Attendance S6 Southern Miss New Orleans, La. 14-17 L 44,698 S13 at Stanford Palo Alto, Calif. NR/13 14-19 L 54,829 S20 Rice New Orleans, La. 35-14 W 40,321 S27 at Ole Miss Oxford, Miss. 26-24 W 37,419 O4 SMU New Orleans, La. 21-31 L 42,563 O11 at Vanderbilt Nashville, Tenn. 43-21 W 35,960 O18 Air Force New Orleans, La. 28-7 W 28,101 O25 at Georgia Tech Atlanta, Ga. 31-14 W 35,117 N1 Kentucky New Orleans, La. 24-22 W 42,139 N15 Memphis New Orleans, La. 21-16 W 33,184 N22 at LSU Baton Rouge, La. 7-24 L 69,248 HALL OF FAME BOWL D27 Arkansas Birmingham, Ala. 15-34 L 30,000
Head Coach: Vince Gibson
With the graduation of Nickie Hall, it took a while to fill in the hole. When coach Vince Gibson finally found his man, junior college transfer Mike McKay, the team went from mediocre to excellent in a hurry. The Green Wave sputtered to an 0-4 start, but McKay came on late in game four and flashed the form that helped turn things around.
With McKay under center, the Wave won six of its last seven games. In eight games, McKay completed 78-of-124 passes for 927 yards with three interceptions and 10 TDs. Running back Marvin Lewis had a big year, rushing for 860 yards and nine TDs. Tight end Rodney Holman ended his career as the Green Wave's all-time leader with 135 catches.
The strength of the 1981 team was on defense, as the Green Wave allowed fewer points (144) than any Tulane team since college football went to an 11-game schedule in 1970. Defensive lineman Brian Douglas had 23 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, and linebackers Darryl Tipton, Ricky Goff, Jeff Roberts and Sly McGrew all had at least 100 tackles.
Four of the five losses were by nine points or less, including a 13-5 decision to '81 national champion Clemson. In the finale, Tulane crushed LSU, 48-7, to record its second win over the Tigers in three years.
Ranking Date Opponent Location Tul/Opp Score Result Attendance S5 Ole Miss New Orleans, La. 18-19 L 43,685 S12 Clemson New Orleans, La. 5-13 L 45,736 S19 at Southern Miss Hattiesburg, Miss. 3-21 L 32,756 O3 at Rice Houston, Texas 16-20 L 17,000 O10 Vanderbilt New Orleans, La. 14-10 W 32,431 O17 at Air Force Colorado Spr., Colo. 31-13 W 18,467 O24 Georgia Tech New Orleans, La. 27-10 W 37,431 O31 at Cincinnati Cincinnati, Ohio 13-17 L 19,486 N7 Maryland New Orleans, La. 14-7 W 32,474 N14 at Memphis Memphis, Tenn. 24-7 W 14,827 N28 LSU New Orleans, La. 48-7 W 71,546
Head Coach: Vince Gibson
Vince Gibson's last Tulane squad was the only one to finish with a losing record, but the 1982 team ended its season in style with a win over Orange Bowl-bound LSU in Tiger Stadium. With the rain pouring down and time running out, Mike McKay tossed a fourth-down, 31-yard TD pass to fullback Reggie Reginelli for the game-winner in a come-from-behind 31-28 victory. It was the third and final lead change of the day and marked Tulane's third win over LSU in four seasons.
McKay threw for 1,903 yards and finished as Tulane's career leader in completion percentage. His prime target was Robert Griffin, who had a then-record 56 catches. Tony Wood had a strong season kicking, booting 52- and 53-yard field goals and going perfect on 22 extra points.
Ranking Date Opponent Location Tul/Opp Score Result Attendance S4 Mississippi State New Orleans, La. 21-30 L 53,641 S11 at SMU Dallas, Texas NR/8 7-51 L 33,814 S18 Rice New Orleans, La. 30-6 W 33,460 O2 at Vanderbilt Nashville, Tenn. 21-24 L 39,456 O9 Georgia Tech New Orleans, La. 13-19 L 34,321 O16 Southern Miss New Orleans, La. 10-22 L 39,685 O23 Memphis New Orleans, La. 17-10 W 26,710 O30 Baylor New Orleans, La. 30-15 W 23,463 N6 at Ole Miss Jackson, Miss. 14-45 L 23,314 N20 Florida New Orleans, La. 7-21 L 27,795 N27 at LSU Baton Rouge, La. NR/12 31-28 W 76,114
Head Coach: Wally English
Wally English began a controversial two-year reign as Tulane's head coach in 1983. The day before the season opener with Mississippi State, Jon English, Wally's son, filed suit against the NCAA and Tulane, alleging that he was unjustly being deprived of a final season of eligibility. He received a temporary restraining order that allowed him to play while the case worked its way through the courts, and played in six games before his attorneys ran out of legal maneuvers and he was declared ineligible. The two games that Tulane won during that time were forfeited to Ole Miss and Florida State, and the Green Wave wound up 2-9.
Future NFL performers like Bubby Brister, Don Maggs, Ron Tilton and Burnell Dent dotted the roster. Brister left the team after being replaced by Jon English midway through the first two games. Dent set a TU record for tackles in a season with 172.
Ranking Date Opponent Location Tul/Opp Score Result Attendance S3 at Mississippi State Starkville, Miss. 9-14 L 27,311 S10 Ole Miss# New Orleans, La. 27-23 L 33,389 S17 Florida State# New Orleans, La. NR/9 34-28 L 35,463 S24 at Kentucky Lexington, Ky. 14-26 L 57,425 O1 Vanderbilt New Orleans, La. 17-30 L 30,756 O8 at Memphis Memphis, Tenn. 25-28 L 29,367 O15 UL-Lafayette New Orleans, La. 17-15 W 26,980 O22 at Southern Miss Hattiesburg, Miss. 14-7 W 31,257 O29 at Baylor Waco, Texas 18-24 L 20,050 N5 Virginia Tech New Orleans, La. 10-26 L 21,391 N24 LSU New Orleans, La. 7-20 L 51,765 #Tulane later forfeited game
Head Coach: Wally English
Coach Wally English led the Green Wave to a 3-8 record in his final season as head coach. Notre Dame transfer Ken Karcher took over the starting quarterback spot. His favorite target was sophomore tight end Larry Route, who led the squad with 46 catches. Mike Jones led the team in rushing with 573 yards, including 129 in the season finale with LSU. Linebacker Burnell Dent led the team in tackles again (139).
The Tulane-LSU game was called with less than a minute remaining when a bench-clearing brawl broke out between the teams on an extra point attempt. English's two-year tenure ended the following week when Tulane announced it would seek a new head coach.
Ranking Date Opponent Location Tul/Opp Score Result Attendance S1 Mississippi State New Orleans, La. 3-30 L 38,695 S15 at Florida Gainesville, Fla. 21-63 L 65,265 S22 Kentucky New Orleans, La. 26-30 L 16,505 S29 at Ole Miss Oxford, Miss. 14-19 L 33,866 O6 at Vanderbilt Nashville, Tenn. 27-23 W 41,216 O13 Southern Miss New Orleans, La. 35-7 W 30,734 O20 at Florida State Tallahassee, Fla. NR/15 6-27 L 54,785 N3 at Virginia Tech Blacksburg, Va. 6-13 L 30,400 N10 at Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, Pa. 10-21 L 20,159 N17 Memphis New Orleans, La. 14-9 W 20,109 N24 at LSU Baton Rouge, La. 15-33 L 77,983
Head Coach: Mack Brown
Mack Brown, barely 34 at the start of the 1985 season, took over the head coaching and athletic director responsibilities and set about to rebuild the football program. The Green Wave went just 1-10 in 1985, but Brown stayed the course and slowly righted the ship.
The major positive development of Brown's first year was the signing of quarterback Terrence Jones, who went on to be one of Tulane's all-time greats. With Ken Karcher returning as the No. 1 quarterback, Jones volunteered to play tailback and led the team in rushing.
The season opened with eight straight losses before Tulane beat Southwestern Louisiana for its only win. Marc Zeno set a Tulane season records with 73 catches for 1,137 yards in 1985 and set a then-single-game mark with 208 yards against LSU. Linebacker Burnell Dent led Tulane in tackles for the third straight season with 120.
Ranking Date Opponent Location Tul/Opp Score Result Attendance A31 Florida State New Orleans, La. NR/19 12-38 L 37,478 S14 at TCU Fort Worth, Texas 13-30 L 31,512 S21 at Kentucky Lexington, Ky. 11-16 L 56,812 S28 Ole Miss New Orleans, La. 10-27 L 32,578 O5 Vanderbilt New Orleans, La. 17-24 L 25,979 O12 at Memphis Memphis, Tenn. 21-38 L 31,298 O19 at Mississippi State Starkville, Miss. 27-31 L 30,420 N2 at Georgia Athens, Ga. 3-58 L 81,407 N9 UL-Lafayette New Orleans, La. 27-17 W 24,040 N23 at Southern Miss Hattiesburg, Miss. 6-24 L 21,753 N30 LSU New Orleans, La. 19-31 L 64,194
Head Coach: Mack Brown
Coach Mack Brown's second team took some lumps, but the record improved to 4-7 as it became obvious that better days were ahead. One reason for that was the emergence of sophomore QB Terrence Jones. In the opener vs. TCU, Jones set a school record with 388 passing yards and 484 yards of total offense, and when the season was over he had thrown for 2,124 yards with just seven interceptions while completing 159-of-284 pass attempts.
Receiver Marc Zeno had a dynamite junior season, catching 68 passes for 1,033 yards while setting Tulane career marks for receptions and yards. Fullback Rodney Hunter led the squad in rushing with 657 yards, the most by a Tulane back since 1981. Defensively, linebacker Richard Harvey and defensive back Thurston Harrison each had over 100 tackles.
Ranking Date Opponent Location Tul/Opp Score Result Attendance S13 TCU New Orleans, La. 31-48 L 34,187 S20 at Vanderbilt Nashville, Tenn. 35-17 W 40,155 S27 at Ole Miss Oxford, Miss. 10-35 L 25,000 O4 Wichita State New Orleans, La. 20-21 L 24,481 O11 at Florida State Tallahassee, Fla. 21-54 L 53,701 O18 Mississippi State New Orleans, La. NR/13 27-34 L 47,263 O25 Southern Miss New Orleans, La. 35-20 W 28,417 N1 UL-Lafayette New Orleans, La. 42-39 W 44,132 N8 Louisville New Orleans, La. 12-23 L 22,108 N15 Memphis New Orleans, La. 15-6 W 23,614 N29 at LSU Baton Rouge, La. 17-37 L 78,131
Head Coach: Mack Brown
Coach Mack Brown's last Tulane team was an exciting one, scoring and giving up more points than any other squad in the first 100 years of Green Wave football. It was a competitive club that finished the regular season with a 6-5 record, with three of the losses by seven points or less. After the regular season, Tulane played in its eighth bowl game, facing Washington in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport.
Tulane's Marc Zeno set the NCAA career receiving yardage record as he ended his college career with 3,725 yards. Zeno's 77 receptions and 1,206 yards surpassed his own school marks and he earned All-America honors.
Junior quarterback Terrence Jones was on the throwing end of nearly all of Zeno's receptions that fall as he set new Green Wave records for passing yards and total offense. With a full season left, Jones was already Tulane's career total offense leader. Tailback Marvin Allen scored 11 TDs, including four against Virginia Tech on three short runs and a 76-yard bomb from Jones. Tulane triumphed 57-38 to record the most points by the Green Wave since 1950. On the season, Tulane amassed a school-record 370 points.
The Green Wave and LSU played one of the great games in the series in 1987, as the Tigers scored in the final minute to win 41-36. Just prior to the Independence Bowl, Brown announced he was leaving to become head coach at North Carolina. He coached the bowl game, which the Green Wave lost, 24-12, to Washington.
Ranking Date Opponent Location Tul/Opp Score Result Attendance S5 at Louisville Louisville, Ky. 40-42 L 32,242 S12 Iowa State New Orleans, La. 25-12 W 27,561 S19 at Southern Miss Hattiesburg, Miss. 24-31 L 16,023 S26 Ole Miss New Orleans, La. 31-24 W 40,302 O3 Vanderbilt New Orleans, La. 27-17 W 34,878 O17 at Memphis Memphis, Tenn. 36-45 L 32,751 O24 Virginia Tech New Orleans, La. 57-38 W 31,280 O31 at Florida State Tallahassee, Fla. NR/4 14-73 L 52,210 N7 at Mississippi State Starkville, Miss. 30-19 W 23,647 N14 UL-Lafayette New Orleans, La. 38-10 W 31,253 N21 LSU New Orleans, La. 36-41 L 70,168 INDEPENDENCE BOWL D19 Washington Shreveport, La. 12-24 L 41,683
Head Coach: Greg Davis
Greg Davis, Tulane's assistant head coach under Mack Brown, was promoted to the top spot in 1988 and led the team to a 5-6 record. The Green Wave started 3-1, but a four-game losing skid dampened chances for a winning season. Tulane bounced back with wins over Ole Miss and Mississippi State, but dropped the finale at LSU to finish a game below .500.
The 1988 season marked the end of the fabulous college career of Terrence Jones, who accumulated 9,445 yards of total offense to rank among the top 10 in NCAA history. Jones shattered nearly every career passing record during his four years on campus and led Tulane in rushing and passing in 1988.
He had a new target in converted quarterback Jerome McIntosh, who caught 52 passes for 908 yards and seven TDs. Michael Pierce also emerged as an offensive threat as he brokeTommy Mason's 28-year-old record for all-purpose yardage with 1,644. Defensively, Mitchell Price intercepted five passes, while linebacker Richard Harvey led the team in tackles for the third straight season.
Ranking Date Opponent Location Tul/Opp Score Result Attendance S3 Chattanooga New Orleans, La. 33-19 W 21,777 S10 at Iowa State Ames, Iowa 13-30 L 41,780 S17 Kansas State New Orleans, La. 20-16 W 24,490 S24 Memphis New Orleans, La. 20-19 W 26,426 O1 Florida State New Orleans, La. NR/6 28-48 L 34,364 O8 Southern Miss New Orleans, La. 13-38 L 22,704 O22 Louisville New Orleans, La. 35-38 L 24,824 O29 UL-Lafayette New Orleans, La. 34-51 L 26,687 N5 at Ole Miss Oxford, Miss. 14-9 W 32,000 N19 Mississippi State New Orleans, La. 27-22 W 20,176 N26 at LSU Baton Rouge, La. 14-44 L 75,497
Head Coach: Greg Davis
In 1989, Coach Greg Davis and his team took on the first 12-game regular season schedule in the school's history.
Deron Smith took over at quarterback and set season records for pass attempts, completions and yards. Jerome McIntosh was the team's leading receiver for the second straight season, catching 55 passes for 899 yards. Smith and McIntosh put on a clinic in a 37-13 win at Vanderbilt, connecting 11 times for 271 yards, including a 77-yard TD pass. Smith threw for 370 yards that afternoon and McIntosh's 271 yards are the most ever by a Tulane receiver.
Fullback Chance Miller gained 99 yards in the opener at Hawaii before injuring his knee. He missed the next six games after undergoing surgery, but ran for 106 yards against Memphis in his second game back.
Ranking Date Opponent Location Tul/Opp Score Result Attendance S2 at Hawai'i Honolulu, Hawai'i 26-31 L 47,489 S9 Rice New Orleans, La. 20-19 W 29,469 S16 UL-Lafayette New Orleans, La. 17-10 W 28,144 S23 at Florida State Tallahassee, Fla. 9-59 L 61,613 S30 Iowa State New Orleans, La. 24-25 L 20,156 O7 at Southern Miss Hattiesburg, Miss. 21-30 L 18,891 O21 Ole Miss New Orleans, La. 28-32 L 34,291 O28 at Virginia Tech Blacksburg, Va. 13-30 L 26,353 N4 Memphis New Orleans, La. 38-34 W 24,861 N11 at Mississippi State Starkville, Miss. 7-27 L 25,105 N18 at Vanderbilt Nashville, Tenn. 37-13 W 30,174 N25 LSU New Orleans, La. 7-27 L 41,573