1893: Tulane played its first varsity football game on Nov. 18, 1893, dropping a 12-0 decision to the Southern Athletic Club. Things were a bit less formal in those days, as witnessed by the fact that Tulane Coach T.L. Bayne also played in the game-for the opponent! In his spare time, T.L. Bayne hustled over to Baton Rouge to help coach LSU. This made for an interesting afternoon of Nov. 25, 1893, when Tulane and LSU played for the first time. Hugh Bayne, brother of the coach and a Tulane law student, scored the first touchdown ever for Tulane to open a 34-0 rout. T.L. Bayne did not play that day, but he was on the field as umpire (LSU's coach was the referee). Tulane lost to Ole Miss 12-4 the next weekend to end its first season with a 1-2 record.
1894: Fred Sweet replaced T.L. Bayne as head coach and it was a struggle all the way. Just before school opened, Sweet learned that captain C.R. Romeyne had left town with his parents and would not be a member of the 1894 squad. The team struggled to an 0-4 finish, scoring 0, 6, 6 and 2 points in those four games while losing to Texas, Alabama, Sewanee and Ole Miss.
1895: T.L. Bayne returned as head coach and Tulane posted its first winning season with a 3-2 record. After losing to LSU in the season opener, Tulane rallied to shut out teams from the Southern Athletic Club and Alabama. A road loss to Texas followed before the season ended with a 28-4 walloping of Ole Miss, representing the most points by Tulane since its 34-0 win over LSU in 1893. 1896
: Harry Baum replaced T.L. Bayne as coach and matched the 1895 record of 3-2, although one of those losses was a forfeit to LSU. Tulane was ahead 2-0 when an argument broke out over whether Tulane could use a player who was "about" to become a Tulane student. When LSU refused to allow the player to see action, Tulane captain Louis Genella took his team off the field and the game was declared a forfeit. Win No. 3 was a 10-0 shutout of Ole Miss to ensure a winning season.
1897: For the only time since the inception of the sport in 1893, Tulane did not field a football team.
1898: John Lombard, captain of Tulane's first team in 1893, became the program's fifth coach in five seasons. The team played two games and finished 1-1, beating Ole Miss and then losing to LSU. Charles Eshelman served as captain, and in 1979 he became the first 19th century athlete to be named to Tulane's Athletic Hall of Fame.
1899: H.H. Collier became Tulane's sixth coach in six seasons and he must not have enjoyed it very much as the team finished 0-6-1 and did not score a point. A scoreless tie with the Southern Athletic Club was the squad's best showing. Charles Eshelman became the first Tulanian to serve as football captain for two years in a row.
1900: What a turnaround! Tulane went from winless and scoreless in 1899 to unbeaten and unscored upon in 1900. H.T. Summersgill was Tulane's seventh coach in seven seasons and he led his team to a 5-0 record. The Southern Athletic Club, Alabama, Millsaps, LSU and Ole Miss all failed to cross the Tulane goal as they lost by a combined 105-0.
1901: H.T. Summersgill became the first man to coach Tulane football for consecutive seasons and his success continued. A disputed 2-0 loss to the Mobile YMCA was the only blemish on a 5-1 season. The Tulane coach argued heatedly that there were still several minutes left in the game but was overruled and suffered his only loss in two seasons. However, you can still get an argument about that in Baton Rouge to this day. Although Tulane beat LSU on the field by a score of 22-0, the Tigers protested the game to the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association, alleging Tulane had used a professional player during the contest. Months later, the SIAA ruled the game an 11-0 forfeit in favor of LSU. The Tiger record book still claims that 11-0 "victory," while the Tulane ledger shows the contest as a 22-0 win. In two seasons, Summersgill produced a 10-1 record on the field and outscored the opposition 214-19. Hugh Krumbhaar captained both squads.
1902: Coach Summersgill left and Tulane's gridiron fortunes took a dive. Virginius Dabney took over the helm and things looked good at first as he coached a 26-0 win over an alumni team. Two ties and four losses followed, however, and the final record fell to 1-4-2. After the disputed forfeit in 1901, LSU disappeared from the schedule for a while.
1903: Charles Eshelman, captain of the 1898 and 1899 teams and a future member of the Tulane Athletic Hall of Fame, took over the head coaching job and improved the situation as he guided the squad to a 2-2-1 finish. It was a feast-or-famine type of season as the two wins were by a cumulative score of 64-5, while the team failed to score in the other three outings.
1904: Thomas Berry took over the coaching reins from Charles Eshelman and led Tulane to a 5-2 record. The team shut out the opponent in all five victories, and failed to score in its two losses. LSU returned to the schedule for the first time since the 1901 controversy regarding player eligibility and Tulane beat the Tigers again .ye.ye. and again LSU complained about player eligibility. Ralph Wood captained the Green Wave for the second season in a row.
1905: John Tobin replaced Thomas Berry as head coach and the season consisted of only one game. Tulane lost that contest to LSU 5-0 and controversy marred the series once again. This time, Tulane complained about LSU's use of ineligible players. Things got heated and the series did not resume until 1911.
1906: For the sixth season in a row, Tulane had a new head coach as John Russ replaced John Tobin. The 1906 squad showed the effects of the lack of continuity and struggled to an 0-4-1 without scoring a point. A scoreless tie with Howard in the season opener was the campaign's best outing.
1907: Joe Curtis was Tulane's seventh coach in seven years and things started looking up as the record improved to 3-2. In defeating Howard 13-0 in the season opener, Tulane registered its first victory - and first points - since the 1904 season. The squad won its first three and lost its last two, playing three games in one week in November.
1908: Joe Curtis returned for his second year as coach and things were definitely looking up for Tulane football as a 7-1 season ensued. It was a new record for victories in a season and five were by shutouts. Biggest wins were a 23-0 verdict over Mississippi State and a 28-15 road decision over Texas four days later. With Temple Brown serving as captain, Tulane outscored the opposition by a cumulative 103-23.
1909: Buster Brown replaced Joe Curtis as coach and the team faced a record nine opponents, finishing 4-3-2. Only three of the nine games were decided by more than 10 points. Tulane shut out the opposition four times and was held scoreless in three games. The only games in which both teams scored were ties with Alabama (5-5) and Texas (10-10). 1910 A.A. Mason commenced a three-year reign as head coach and things did not get off to a promising start as Tulane suffered its first losing season since 1906. The team scored only twice and finished 0-7 as the opposition enjoyed a 126-6 edge on the scoreboard.
1911: Coach Mason's program began to take off in year two as the record improved dramatically to 5-3-1. Tulane fans did not have to wait long for the turnaround as the first four opponents fell by a combined score of 92-0. The Tulane-LSU football rivalry resumed, with the Tigers taking a 6-0 win in Baton Rouge. Semmes Walmsley, a future mayor of New Orleans, captained the team.
1912: Coach Mason established a new longevity record with his third season at the helm and produced another strong team. The squad finished with a 5-3 record and outscored the opposition 216-99. High point of the season was a 95-0 win over Southwestern Louisiana. The 15 rushing touchdowns and 95 points scored in that game are Tulane's oldest football records.
1913: A.C. Hoffman replaced Mason as head coach and Tulane suffered its first losing season since 1910. The squad managed only three points in its five losses. Highlight of the season came in a 12-6 road win over St. Louis. In that game, Tulane tackle Carl Woodward kicked a 52-yard field goal, a mammoth blast that stood as the school record for 51 years.
1914: E.R. Sweetland took over as head coach and Tulane improved its record to 3-3-1. There was a certain symmetry to the 1914 season as Tulane won its first three, lost three in a row and tied the season finale with LSU. The highlight of the season was an 82-0 thrashing of Centenary.
1915: As the storm clouds of war thickened in Europe, Tulane changed coaches again, but this move led to serious stability for the program. A 23-year-old Minnesotan named Clark Shaughnessy took over the program and went on to become Tulane's winningest head coach during his 11-year tenure. Incidentally, an assistant coach at Notre Dame named Knute Rockne was scheduled for an interview, but he was told not to come when a deal was struck with Shaughnessy. His first year was nowhere near his best, but he still produced Tulane's second consecutive breakeven season with a 4-4 record. The first of his Tulane record 59 wins was a 24-0 verdict over St. Paul in the 1915 season opener.
1916: Shaughnessy continued to lay his foundation, leading Tulane to a 4-3-1 record. For the third year in a row, Tulane opened with three straight wins, only to struggle toward the end of the season. The season's only tie was with LSU, the second deadlock with the Tigers in three years. Earning his second of three football letters for Tulane that fall was a youngster named Felix Blanchard, whose son, "Doc" Blanchard, won the Heisman Trophy at Army during World War II. The trophy is named for John Heisman, whose Georgia Tech team walloped Tulane 45-0 in 1916.
1917: The United States had joined World War I by the time the 1917 football season rolled around and some schools had suspended play. The game went on at Tulane, however, and the team had a new stadium, located on the site of the A.B. Freeman School of Business. Tulane played its first game in the new concrete facility against Washington Artillery, winning 19-0. The 1917 team won its first four games by a combined score of 131-0 and finished with a 5-3 record. The season ended with a 28-6 win over LSU, as a Tulane line led by Eva Talbot held the Tigers to only one first down.
1918: As the World War commitment escalated, Tulane faced mostly military opponents in 1918. The only loss in a 4-1-1 record was to Camp Pike. The Tulane defense shut out four of its six opponents and allowed only 16 points all season. In a 74-0 battering of Southwestern Louisiana, Harold Gentling broke off a 95-yard run, the longest in Tulane history.
1919: World War I ended and the Shaughnessy program picked up speed as the team finished 6-2-1. The Southwestern win that ended the 1918 season and six wins to open the 1919 campaign were a school record seven wins in a row. A 7-7 tie with Georgia ended the winning streak. After a one-year break due to the War, the Tulane-LSU gridiron series resumed and it would stretch uninterrupted into the 1990s. A 73-0 win over Southwestern Louisiana and a 49-0 win over Mississippi College highlighted the season.
1920: Another strong start and another 6-2-1 record tell the story of Tulane's 1920 season. The first four opponents were outscored by a combined 140-0 that fall. Tulane then fell to Michigan after a long train ride to Ann Arbor that marked the program's first ever intersectional contest. The team went on to shut out its next three opponents, the last of which was LSU, which fell 21-0 in Baton Rouge. The nickname Green Wave was affixed to the program that season and it endured. Coach Shaughnessy resigned after the season, but returned in 1922.
1921: Myron Fuller replaced Clark Shaughnessy as head coach and, as often happens with transitions, things did not work out as well as all parties would have liked. The Green Wave's record slid to 4-6, the first losing season for the program since 1913. The 10-game schedule was the most ever for Tulane up to that point and the team won three of the first four before a collapse that saw only one win in the last six contests. The only win during that skid was a 21-0 verdict over LSU, the second year in a row that Tulane beat the Tigers by the same score. The last TD in that win over LSU came on a 65-yard punt return by a freshman named Alfred "Brother" Brown, who would go on to become one of Tulane's all-time great football players.
1922: Clark Shaughnessy returned to the Tulane head coaching job for 1922 and began laying the foundation for one of the great eras in the program's history. The season got off to a strong start as Tulane outscored the opposition 104-10 in racing to a 4-0 record. The final four games of the season were losses, however, and the final record was 4-4. While the final record was not too impressive, Shaughnessy was bringing in football players who would help to make Tulane a national power on the gridiron.
1923: One of the highlights of 1923 for Tulane football was the hiring of assistant coach Bernie Bierman, who would eventually replace Clark Shaughnessy as Tulane head coach and go on to a Hall of Fame career himself. The 1923 team compiled a 3-3-1 mark before finishing with a flourish by winning its last three games by a combined score of 58-8. Those three wins at the end of the 1923 season kicked off a school record eight-game winning streak and was the beginning of a four-season stretch where Tulane compiled a 21-1-1 record.
1924: Tulane football exploded into national prominence in 1924 with a new school record for wins in a season as only a 14-6 loss to Mississippi State blemished an 8-1 season. The team won its first five, lost to Mississippi State, then won its last three as captain Brother Brown led the offensive charge with several 100-yard rushing efforts. Guard Milton Levy and backs Brown and Charles "Peggy" Flournoy were named All-Southern for their play in 1924 as the Green Wave outscored the opposition 201-59 over the course of the season.
1925: For the second year in a row, Tulane set a school record for wins in a season as Coach Clark Shaughnessy's finest Tulane team finished with a 9-0-1 record. The tie came against Missouri in game two and nobody else came within ten points of this juggernaut. All-American Charles "Peggy" Flournoy had one of the great seasons in Tulane annals. One of the game's great punters, Flournoy was also quite a threat toting the football as he established Tulane records for touchdowns and points in a season and in a game that endure to this day. The 1925 team exploded to a 77-0 win over Louisiana College in the season opener as captain Lester Lautenschlaeger returned two punts for touchdowns. Later in the season, Flournoy set two of his longstanding records with four rushing TDs and 31 points in a 37-9 win over Louisiana Tech. The 1925 team did not give up two TDs in any game and scored in double figures against everyone but Missouri. Guard Milton Levy and Flournoy were named All-Southern for the second season in a row as they stood out on a team full of stars that outscored the opposition by a combined 246-32. After the season, Tulane's administration turned down a Rose Bowl bid because of the time the long train trip would keep the team away from its studies.
1926: Clark Shaughnessy coached his last season at Tulane in 1926 and suffered his only losing campaign. A 40-0 romp over Louisiana Tech got the season off to a promising start, but the team scored more than 10 points only once the rest of the season and finished 3-5-1. During the offseason, Shaughnessy was released from his Tulane contract and moved across Freret Street to accept the head coaching position at Loyola. On Oct. 23, Tulane dedicated a new stadium on Willow Street that would showcase countless memories for Green Wave football until the program moved to the Louisiana Superdome after the 1974 season.
1927: Former assistant coach Bernie Bierman, who had been head coach at Mississippi State for two years, returned to Tulane to replace Clark Shaughnessy as head football coach for the 1927 season. Although Bierman was ultimately to lead Tulane football to its greatest heights, his first season ended with a 2-5-1 record. It marked the first time the Green Wave suffered back-to-back losing seasons since 1905-06 and it did not happen again until 1945-46. The Green Wave defeated Ole Miss in the season opener and LSU in the season finale for its only two wins that fall. It was a dark period for a program used to better times, but the seed of future success was present in halfback Bill Banker, who was to help Tulane back to football prosperity very quickly.
1928: Bernie Bierman showed he had things pointed in the right direction when the Green Wave slaughtered its first two 1928 opponents by a combined score of 116-6 as Bill Banker scored eight TDs. Banker, dubbed the "Blond Blizzard" because of the thick mane of light hair that was so visible to spectators as he raced helmetless through opposing defenses, came to Tulane from the southwest Louisiana city of Lake Charles that has provided the Green Wave with some of its all-time greats. A narrow loss to Georgia Tech started a three-game losing streak at that point, but when that streak was over, Tulane did not lose again for nearly two years. From Nov. 3, 1928 until Bierman left the program after the 1932 Rose Bowl, Tulane compiled a football record of 32-2-1. Captain Charles Rucker led a strong offensive line that helped the Green Wave outscore the opposition 264-76 that fall.
1929: Coach Bernie Bierman led a team of Tulane legends to a 9-0 finish that featured five shutouts and plenty of offensive fireworks. Captain Bill Banker ended his magnificent Tulane career with All-America recognition. The decades have not erased his name from the Tulane record book in many areas, including the most important, as he is still the Green Wave's all-time leading scorer with 263 points. Running behind a ferocious line anchored by All-Southern center Lloyd "Preacher" Roberts, Banker and fellow halfback Ike Armstrong shredded opposing defenses as the 1929 team outscored the other side 297-45. Making his first appearance for the Green Wave that fall was a young Arkansan named Jerry Dalrymple, whose end play during his three-year career led many to consider him the finest player in Tulane football history.
1930: The 1930 Tulane team is not remembered as one of Coach Bernie Bierman's best, which is understandable since, unlike its predecessor or successor, this squad lost one of its games. When the 1930 team lost the second game of the season to Northwestern on a chilly October afternoon in Chicago, it snapped a school record 10-game winning streak. When the team roared back to beat Texas A&M the next weekend, a new streak was started and it stretched to the current school record of 18 wins in a row. In fashioning an 8-1 record, Tulane outscored the opposition 263-30 in 1930, shutting out six of its nine opponents behind the end play of All-American Jerry Dalrymple. From Oct. 18-Nov. 15, the Green Wave shut out five consecutive opponents. Sophomore Don Zimmerman replaced Bill Banker as Tulane's top offensive threat and would go on to All-America recognition himself before his collegiate days were done.
1931: Arguably the best in Tulane football history, the 1931 team shut out eight of its regular season opponents, set a school record for wins, finished the regular season unbeaten at 11-0 and earned a Rose Bowl bid. Outscoring the opposition by an awesome 338-35, Coach Bernie Bierman's last Tulane team allowed only one regular season opponent within 14 points of them. Future Tulane Hall of Famers Lefty Haynes, John Scafide, Jerry Dalrymple, Red Dawson, Wop Glover, Don Zimmerman and Nollie Felts manned seven of the 11 starting spots in the Rose Bowl. The unquestioned leader of this great team was Dalrymple, Tulane's first consensus All-American. Dalrymple's aggressive end play helped Tulane shut out eight of its first nine opponents in 1931, and 13 of 15 over a stretch dating back to the middle of the 1930 season. Offensively, Zimmerman's rushing and passing established an individual total offense record (1,459 yards) that endured 48 years. The Rose Bowl encounter saw USC grab a 21-0 third quarter lead, only to have Tulane roar back on a Zimmerman-to-Haynes TD pass and a TD run by Glover that closed it to 21-12 before the Green Wave rally fell short. Dalrymple was Tulane's first inductee into the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame in 1954. A year later, Coach Bernie Bierman, who left Tulane after the 1931 season for continued success at the University of Minnesota, was inducted.
1932: Ted Cox, an assistant to Bernie Bierman since 1927, took over the head coaching reins and the winning tradition continued. All-American Don Zimmerman was a leader on both sides of the ball as he ended his Tulane career as Tulane's all-time leader in total offense and passes intercepted, setting records that lasted until the 1970s. The Green Wave beat some big-time football teams in spite of being hard hit by graduation, but finishing 6-2-1 was considered a definite "rebuilding" effort for the Tulane program of that day. The Green Wave lost to LSU for the first time since 1926.
1933: After a slow start, Coach Ted Cox rallied his team to a 6-3-1 finish. The 1933 team lost its first two games, the first time Tulane was beaten in consecutive games since 1928, but the team lost only once more the rest of the year. A 13-6 loss to Texas A&M was the first season opener Tulane had lost since 1921. On Oct. 21, Howard "Bucky" Bryan returned a kickoff 100 yards on a muddy field to beat Georgia Tech 7-0. Tulane would not win again at Grant Field until 1980. Tulane was a charter member of the Southeastern Conference in 1933.
1934: All-American Claude "Little Monk" Simons, son of legendary Green Wave trainer Claude "Big Monk" Simons, did everything but cut the grass as he led the way to a 10-1 record that included a 20-14 win over Temple in the first Sugar Bowl game. Simons led the team in rushing, passing and scoring, played great defense, punted well and returned kicks for TDs that helped win the season finale with LSU and the Sugar Bowl game. Coach Ted Cox's finest Tulane team's only loss was to Colgate before 50,000 fans in Yankee Stadium. Tulane and Alabama tied for the SEC Championship that fall with 7-0 conference records. Simons took a lateral from Bucky Bryan on a punt and returned it 45 yards for a fourth quarter TD to beat LSU 13-12 to earn the bowl bid. In the Sugar Bowl game, Simons took a lateral from John McDaniel on a kickoff and brought it 85 yards for Tulane's first score to cut the Temple lead to 14-7. End Red Hardy caught second half TD passes from Bryan and Barney Mintz to give the Green Wave a 20-14 win. Only the great 1931 team has won more games in one season.
1935: The Green Wave posted its eighth consecutive winning season, but a 6-4 record was not enough to save Coach Ted Cox's job. Tulane got revenge on the Colgate team that dealt the Wave its only loss in 1934 when Barney Mintz's 90-yard interception return sparked a 14-6 win. A 41-0 loss to LSU in the season finale was the final straw, however, and Cox became the only Tulane coach with a winning record ever to be fired. He stands as the only Tulane football coach of more than two seasons who never failed to field a winning team. Cox was replaced as head coach by Lowell "Red" Dawson, quarterback of the 1931 Rose Bowl team.
1936: Red Dawson's first Tulane team finished 6-3-1 and started the tradition of strong defense that was the hallmark of his tenure. Six of 1936's opponents were held to less than 10 points. That season, Tulane and Auburn played the first of three consecutive scoreless ties. A four-game winning streak at mid-year was the season highlight, but the team took another thumping (33-0) from LSU at the end. Dawson went national in his recruiting and began to bring in players that would lead Tulane football back to national prominence.
1937: The 1937 Tulane team finished 5-4-1, the program's 10th consecutive winning season. Eight of the 10 opponents scored less than 10 points and the team featured the running attack, as you would expect from a Red Dawson-coached squad. Highlight of the season was an 84-0 thrashing of Mississippi College, which saw Tulane rush for a school-record 638 yards, while the opposition gained only seven yards.
1938: Coach Red Dawson's program began to take hold in 1938 as Tulane won seven of its last eight to finish 7-2-1. The only losses were by three points each to Clemson and Alabama. All-America end Ralph Wenzel and All-SEC running back Warren Brunner led the charge, but good football players walked the Tulane campus in numbers. Five opponents failed to cross the Tulane goal line that fall. The Green Wave beat LSU for the first time since 1934, but the game was marred by a massive brawl that spilled over into the cane fields that surrounded Tiger Stadium in those days. The battle would stop momentarily when the band played the national anthem, only to resume when the last note sounded.
1939: The 1939 team was one of Tulane's finest, finishing the regular season unbeaten and dropping a hotly contested 14-13 decision to Texas A&M in the Sugar Bowl. Captain Paul Krueger led a blue collar team through a tough schedule and won with defense and a punishing running game. Coach Red Dawson assembled this team from 13 states and the Panama Canal Zone. They were products of the Great Depression who were about to fight a terrible World War, but things were looking up in 1939 for Tulane football. Five of nine regular season opponents were shut out and two others scored only once. End Ralph Wenzel and tackle Harley McCollum earned All-America recognition and guard Tommy O'Boyle and back Bobby "Jitterbug" Kellogg were named All-SEC. At one point, the Dawson juggernaut shut out three consecutive opponents by a combined score of 90-0. When the regular season ended 8-0-1, Tulane was matched with unbeaten Texas A&M in the Sugar Bowl, and the game was a great one. A&M led 7-0 at the half, but Kellogg returned a punt 75 yards to tie it in the third period. Tough running by Fred Cassibry set up a TD rush by Monette Butler that staked Tulane to a 13-7 lead after the conversion was blocked. The Aggies struck back through the air, scoring the winning TD on a pass and lateral that Tulane hotly contested was an illegal "pick" play. The TD stood, and one of Tulane's great football teams had suffered its only loss.
1940: Hit hard by graduation, Tulane's 1940 team posted a 5-5 record, marking the first time since 1927 that the Green Wave did not field a winning football team. Coach Red Dawson rallied the troops after the season started 0-3, but a loss to LSU in the season finale prevented a winning campaign. Guard Tommy O'Boyle earned All-America recognition as he led the charge for Dawson's ground-oriented attack. The 1940 team still holds the season record for rushing attempts with 649.
1941: The nation drifted toward World War II as Red Dawson delivered a winning record in his last season as Tulane head coach. The 1941 team finished 5-4 and displayed a bit more offense than Dawson's previous squads, scoring better than 30 points in four of their five wins. Ernie Blandin led the way from his tackle spot and was named a consensus All-American after the season. Bobby Glass, who was killed in action in World War II, led the rushing attack with 683 yards and eight TDs. Lou Thomas established a season record with an average of 6.8 yards total offense per play, and also returned a kickoff 100 yards in a 52-6 win over North Carolina. Dawson's six-year totals as Tulane head coach were 36-19-4.
1942: Claude "Little Monk" Simons, an All-American for the Green Wave in 1934, took over the head coaching reins from Red Dawson and was faced with putting together a football team during the chaos that World War II created on the college campus. Players were leaving for military service while others were coming to campus from other universities to participate in military training programs. Simons led the Wave against a nine-game schedule and wound up with a 4-5 record, Tulane's first losing season since 1927. The season started off well as Tulane journeyed west to defeat the USC Trojans 27-13. A three-game losing skid to conclude the season ended hopes of a winning campaign. Lou Thomas led the team in rushing and passing and set a record, since surpassed, with a 77-yard punt against Georgia. Marty Comer set a record that still stands by catching four consecutive passes for touchdowns, and his six TD receptions established a season record that lasted 38 years.
1943: The six games Tulane played in 1943 were the fewest since the wartime year of 1918, and Monk Simons led his second Green Wave squad to a 3-3 record. End Ray Olsen, guard Gaston Bourgeois, center Lester Gatewood and back Joe Renfroe all earned All-SEC recognition that fall. Bourgeois, a 16-year-old freshman, started for Tulane for four years and earned All-SEC recognition each season. The 1943 victories came over Rice, SMU and LSU.
1944: Monk Simons fielded his only winning team in 1944 as the squad finished another war-abbreviated schedule 4-3. This team enjoyed considerable success on the ground as it rushed for over 300 yards four times, the only Tulane team since 1940 to do so. Biggest victims of the Tulane running game were Clemson (504 yards) and SMU (417 yards). Dub Jones led Wave rushers with 700 yards and earned All-America recognition. Harry Robinson broke off an 89-yard run against SMU and an 85-yarder against Clemson, the third- and fifth-longest runs in Tulane history.
1945: The wartime shuffling of players on and off campus finally caught up with Tulane, and the 2-6-1 record in 1945 was the school's worst since 1910. Coach Monk Simons had his team off to a 2-2-1 start in his final season, but a four-game losing streak at the end ruined the season. Ernest Crouch produced one of the highlights of the season by returning two interceptions for touchdowns in a 19-7 win over SMU, a single-game record that still stands.
1946: Coach Henry Frnka moved to Tulane to take over the football program after leading Tulsa to four bowl bids, including two to the Sugar Bowl. The initial results were disappointing, but Frnka was laying a foundation that would produce significant success for the Green Wave in the late 1940s. One of the keys to that foundation was New Orleanian Eddie Price, just out of the Navy and about to become one of the most feared rushers in college football. Price played sparingly early in his freshman year, but still led Tulane in rushing with 309 yards. The 1946 team ended with a 3-7 record as military veterans like Bennie Ellender, O.J. Key, Ken Tarzetti, Vic Klein and Don Fortier returned to campus to help Frnka rebuild Tulane football fortunes. Their labors eventually were rewarded.
1947: Henry Frnka's second Green Wave team finished 2-5-2, but some of the pieces of the squad that exploded to success in 1948 were beginning to fall into place. Sophomore Eddie Price led Tulane in rushing again with 471 yards. Against Auburn, Price rambled for 103 yards and Johnny Campora added 104 as Tulane rolled up 431 yards on the ground in a 40-0 win. Against Alabama in the season opener, Price returned a kickoff 100 yards and Bennie Ellender came right back with a TD pass to Ray Prats as Tulane exploded for two quick TDs that keyed a 21-20 win.
1948: Junior Eddie Price led the Green Wave to a 9-1 record with 1,178 yards rushing (a Tulane record that still stands), as he gained at least 100 yards in seven of the team's 10 games. Coach Henry Frnka also crafted a strong passing attack that fall, as sophomore Joe Ernst threw for 809 yards and Dick Sheffield set a season record that lasted 22 years by averaging 18.6 yards per catch. Operating behind a forward wall that included All-SEC tackle Paul Lea and center Stan Kottemann, Price and Ernst helped the Wave end the season on an eight-game winning streak as the only loss came to Georgia Tech in game two. Defensively, linebacker Bill Svoboda and defensive back Bobby Jones led a unit that shut out four opponents and did not allow anyone to score more than twice. The season ended on a pleasant note as Tulane swamped LSU 46-0 in Baton Rouge. This team was richly deserving of a bowl invite but got none.
1949: All-American Eddie Price ran wild again, rushing for 1,137 yards in only nine games as Tulane finished 7-2-1
1950: Coach Henry Frnka led the Green Wave to its third consecutive winning season with a 6-2-1 record. Harold Waggoner replaced Price as the team's top rusher and he set a new season record by averaging 6.8 yards per carry. Quarterback Joe Ernst set a new Tulane record with 990 passing yards, and in a 27-0 win over Navy he connected with Joe Shinn 10 times for 152 yards. Ernst's yardage record lasted 19 years, while Shinn's single-game receiving marks stood for 32 seasons. Tackle Paul Lea was named All-SEC for the thrid year in a row, the only Tulane player to ever achieve this honor.
1951: Tulane posted a losing 4-6 mark in Coach Henry Frnka's final season. Facing an athletic deficit, the university put football on an austerity program and limited the number of scholarships that could be given. Coach Frnka left Tulane after the 1951 season and his 31 wins have not been approached by a Tulane head coach since his departure. A lanky Texan named Max McGee, who went on to earn fame in the NFL as a wide receiver, led Tulane rushers as a sophomore with 537 yards and opened some eyes with a 73-yard punt against Baylor early in the season. W.C. McElhannon led the team with 33 receptions and Lester Kennedy just missed the school record with eight interceptions.
1952: Raymond "Bear" Wolf replaced Henry Frnka as head coach and rallied the squad from a 1-3 start to end up 5-5. The offensive highlight of the season was a 46-14 romp over Louisiana College that saw quarterback Fred Dempsey throw five TD passes. In that game, Tulane rushed for 240 yards and passed for 219. Max McGee led Tulane rushers for the second straight season, but Roy Bailey had some bright moments, rushing for 127 yards against Mississippi State and 121 yards against Vanderbilt.
1953: Coach Bear Wolf's brief tenure came to an end after a 1-8-1 record. Led by Max McGee's 132 yards, Tulane rushed for 432 yards and demolished The Citadel 54-6 in the season opener. The team did not win another game. The austerity program limiting football scholarships that was announced during the last year of the Henry Frnka regime was beginning to be felt on the scoreboard. McGee ended the season as the squad's leading rusher for the third year in a row.
1954: Long-time Tulane assistant and former Notre Dame All-American Andy Pilney assumed the coaching reins of a football program that needed a boost. He brought his considerable coaching capabilities to the task and made an immediate impact. The 1954 squad showed significant improvement on defense, and that kept them in more football games. Although the team won only once, they played to a school record three ties and lost a tough 14-13 decision to LSU in the season finale. Pilney began to turn it around in 1954, and the results got a lot better the next two seasons. The only win in a 1-6-3 season was by 6-0 over Vanderbilt.
1955: Co-captains Tony Sardisco and Bryan Burnthorne led a resurgence in Tulane football as the program enjoyed its first winning season since 1950. Coach Andy Pilney's second Green Wave squad won three consecutive games late in the year to ensure a winning campaign. Fullback Ronnie Quillian finished second in the SEC in rushing and punting and had a big game in a Tulane win over Alabama, scoring two touchdowns, rushing for 107 yards and launching a 72-yard punt. Quillian scored 10 TDs that fall, the last Tulane rusher to do so. Quarterback Gene Newton also had some big games, running for both TDs in a 14-0 win over Georgia in Athens, passing for two TDs in a win over Auburn and scoring a TD in the 13-13 tie with LSU at season's end. Against Ole Miss, John Caruso tossed a 76-yard TD pass to Willie Hof that tied the longest pass completion in Tulane history up to that time. In the season opener, the Green Wave beat VMI 20-7 in the first night game ever in Tulane Stadium.
1956: Andy Pilney did one of the great coaching jobs in Tulane history, crafting a 6-4 record that included one point losses to Texas and LSU. Coaching a team of true student-athletes during a period of financial austerity, he led the program to its second consecutive winning season against a tough schedule. Ronnie Quillian, running behind the tough blocking of fellow captains Donald Miller and Dalton Truax, led the team in rushing for the second straight season. Against Mississippi State, Quillian rushed for 141 yards and scored the game winning TD in the final two minutes. Quarterback Gene Newton had some big moments, breaking off an 86-yard TD run to help defeat Ole Miss in Jackson, catching a 71-yard pass against Alabama and tossing five TD passes in wins over Virginia Tech and Navy. Sophomore Claude "Boo" Mason showed promise of things to come by rushing for 128 yards against LSU.
1957: The Green Wave slumped to 2-8 in 1957, the first of a school-record nine consecutive losing seasons. The wins came against Marquette and Alabama. Defense against the pass was a highlight, as the Green Wave held the opposition to only 33 completions, a modern school record. Junior Boo Mason led the team in rushing and he enjoyed big games against Army, rushing for 130 yards, and Marquette, against whom he scored two touchdowns in a 20-6 Tulane win.
1958: Coach Andy Pilney improved the Green Wave's record slightly, beating Navy, Texas Tech and Alabama to finish 3-7. Quarterback Richie Petitbon, who went on to an All-Pro career as a defensive back with the Chicago Bears, earned All-SEC recognition as he completed 66 of 125 passes for 728 yards. In a tough 21-20 loss to Texas, Petitbon set a Tulane completion percentage record that still stands by connecting on 10 of 11 passes (90.9 percent). In the win over Texas Tech, Boo Mason gained 104 yards on receptions to become the first player in Tulane history to gain 100 yards in a game rushing and receiving in his career. The season ended on a sour note as national champion LSU poured it on 62-0.
1959: The Green Wave suffered its third consecutive losing season, but there was reason for hope in the presence of young running backs Tommy Mason and Terry Terrebonne. Plagued by injuries, Mason played solid football but was a year away from having one of the great seasons in Tulane history. There was nothing wrong with Terrebonne, however, and the sophomore from New Orleans had big games in consecutive wins over Wake Forest and Detroit. Against Wake Forest, Terrebonne rushed for 112 yards in a 6-0 victory, while his 49-yard TD run keyed a 25-0 romp over Detroit. A fog-shrouded win over Texas Tech the night before Halloween was the other victory in a 3-6-1 season.
1960: All-American Tommy Mason had one of the great seasons in Tulane football history as he led the SEC in rushing and scored 13 touchdowns. A versatile performer, Mason set a single season record for yardage gained rushing, receiving and on returns (1,475 yards) that endured 28 years. The longevity of this record is made special by the fact that Mason accumulated his yardage during an era when players were required to play defense, which he also played very well. Tulane finished 3-6-1 in 1960, but the losing season did not dim Mason's luster as far as pro football scouts were concerned as he was the first player selected in the NFL draft that year, going to the Minnesota Vikings. Quarterback Phil Nugent also had a fine season, as his 880 passing yards were the most by a Tulane player in 10 years.
1961: Andy Pilney's eight-year term as head coach, the second-longest in Tulane history, ended in a 2-8 season. Only Clark Shaughnessy lasted longer (11 seasons) at the Green Wave helm, a testament to Pilney's coaching acumen in the face of restricted budgets and stiff academic standards. Unable to effectively replace the graduated Tommy Mason, Tulane was shut out five times in 10 games, the final loss a 62-0 verdict to LSU. The two victories that season were over Virginia Tech and Vanderbilt. The season-ending loss to LSU opened a school-record 17-game losing streak.
1962: Former Tulane All-American Tommy O'Boyle, an assistant to Andy Pilney in 1961, was promoted to head football coach for the 1962 season. O'Boyle played for Red Dawson from 1938-40, and was a star lineman on the 1939 Tulane team that finished the regular season unbeaten and lost a 14-13 decision to Texas A&M in the Sugar Bowl. The 1962 team posted an 0-10 record, the first Green Wave squad to go winless since the 1910 team finished 0-7. End Clem Dellenger caught 39 passes to set a new season record that would last 17 years.
1963: The 1963 team dropped its first six decisions before beating South Carolina 20-7 on the road to snap a school-record 17-game losing streak. A 10-10 tie with Vanderbilt later in the year resulted in a 1-8-1 record. The team struggled offensively and was shut out six times as Coach Tommy O'Boyle fought to rebuild Tulane football fortunes. The 43 points scored by the 1963 team were the fewest by a Tulane squad since the winless 1910 team scored only six points. Ron Chapoton led the team in receptions, the last running back to do so.
1964: Coach Tommy O'Boyle's third Tulane team showed definite improvement, playing week in and week out much better than its 3-7 record would indicate. After five losses to open the season, the team rallied to a 3-2 finish that included a 17-0 win in the season finale with Duke that was highlighted by a then-Tulane record 53-yard field goal by Don Bright. The Duke game was postponed to season's end by Hurricane Hilda, and it marked the first time the Green Wave did not play LSU in its final game since the 1946 season. George Smith, who led the team in rushing for the second consecutive season, had a big game against VMI, rushing for 112 yards in a 25-6 win. Quarterback Dave East set a season record with 85 completions.
1965: Tulane's 1965 team competed well in the early going, then fell into a tail spin that cost Coach Tommy O'Boyle his job. Preseason practice was dramatically disrupted when Hurricane Betsy hit New Orleans head on about a week before the season opener with Texas, which was hurriedly moved from Tulane Stadium to Austin. A game Tulane team hung tough before finally losing road encounters to Texas and Alabama, then rode the passing and running of sophomore phenom Bobby Duhon to a 24-16 upset of Miami. Duhon's 71-yard TD pass to Lanis O'Steen in his first collegiate start highlighted the win. After tough losses to nationally-ranked Georgia Tech and Ole Miss the next two weekends, the Green Wave upset Mississippi State on a pleasant Friday night in old Tulane Stadium and things were looking up. Captain Bill Goss, an All-SEC linebacker, led a defensive unit, dubbed the "Posse," that was keeping Tulane in football games and Duhon's offensive capabilities were keeping things interesting. A run of injuries decimated squad depth as the season went on, however, and narrow losses to Vanderbilt and Stanford were followed by devastating defeats to Top Ten teams from Florida and LSU, the latter by another 62-0 margin. The 2-8 finish led Tulane to seek its third head coach of the decade, which was only half over.
1966: Coach Jim Pittman took over the coaching reins for 1966, an historic and memorable season for Tulane football. It was the year the Green Wave left the Southeastern Conference, went intersectional with its schedule and turned in Tulane's only winning team of the decade. Backfield coach Joe Blaylock turned the Tulane wing-T offense into a showcase for the athletic ability of junior quarterback Bobby Duhon, whose 748 yards rushing are the most ever by a Green Wave signal caller. Tulane had failed to score in its three previous season openers, but it was the Green Wave defense that pitched the shutout in the 1966 opener as Virginia Tech fell 13-0. The next weekend, Duhon scored twice and defensive guard Vic Eumont scored another TD when he recovered a fumble in the Texas A&M end zone as Tulane beat the Aggies 21-13. Tulane was off to its first 2-0 start since 1949, and the record became a heady 4-1 when, after a loss to Stanford, the Green Wave whipped Virginia and Cincinnati. Against Cincy, Tulane rushed for 387 yards as halfback Pete Johns gained 193 and Duhon added 103 and a pair of TDs. Tailback/defensive back Johns and tight end/defensive end Colquette were two-way performers, among the last of a dying breed as college football went to unlimited substitution. The Green Wave got its fifth win with a fourth-quarter goal-line stand against Vanderbilt, then fought heavily favored Miami to a 10-10 tie to ensure a winning season (the last tie in Tulane history). In the season finale, 83,000 fans packed Tulane Stadium to watch LSU win a hotly contested game in the fourth quarter as both teams finished 5-4-1.
1967: Reality returned to Tulane football, as the previous season's resurgence to respectability was followed by a slide to 3-7. Coach Jim Pittman's second Tulane squad was again competitive, but the football began bouncing the wrong way and a lack of depth spelled defeat in several close contests. Midway through the season, junior Warren Bankston moved from backup quarterback to running back and led all Wave rushers. Quarterback Bobby Duhon, who went on to a fine NFL career as a running back with the New York Giants, became the first Tulane player to amass better than 1,000 yards of total offense in three straight seasons. The defense was staggered midway through the season when co-captain Jim Jancik, a stellar defensive back, went down with a knee injury. That fall, Tulane Stadium had a new tenant as the Green Wave shared its home turf with a new NFL team, the New Orleans Saints.
1968: The record slipped again to 2-8, but Coach Jim Pittman was bringing in folks like Rick Kingrea and Ray Hester who would one day be the keys to a big turnaround in Tulane football. Running back Warren Bankston, who went on to a long NFL career as a tight end with the Oakland Raiders, led the team in rushing despite missing several early season games with a leg injury. Quarterback Wayne Francingues' 1,376 yards of total offense were the second highest in Green Wave football history to that point. In a wild 63-47 loss to Virginia, Francingues rushed for 147 yards, at the time the most ever by a Tulane quarterback.
1969: The record improved only slightly to 3-7, but Jim Pittman's recruiting efforts began to pay off as a strong sophomore class headed by three-year starters like Steve Barrios, Joe Bullard, Paul Ellis, David Hebert and Bob Waldron moved up to varsity play. After an 0-4 start, the team broke even the rest of the way, beating Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt. Bullard established himself as Tulane's all-time best punt returner that fall, setting season records for yards and average per return that have not been approached. His 92-yard return against Vanderbilt is the longest in Green Wave history. With Barrios as his favorite target, sophomore Rusty Lachaussee became Tulane's first 1,000-yard passer. The defensive unit that would dominate opponents and catapult Tulane to its first bowl bid in over 30 years was beginning to come together, as junior linebackers Rick Kingrea and Ray Hester got better and better. Tulane got better and better right along with them.
1970: The 1970 football season, according to billboards and bumper stickers plastered all over the New Orleans area, was going to be 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 football 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 (the defensive tackle) and David Abercrombie captained the 1970 team to considerable success. The Tulane defense returned 10 starters from 1969, and sophomore linebacker Glenn Harder came up to the varsity to fill the remaining spot on what was to be one of the Green Wave's all-time great defensive units. Paul Ellis, Joe Bullard and David Hebert formed a secondary that led the way to a school-record 28 interceptions. Offensively, tailback David Abercrombie set a school record with 246 yards rushing against North Carolina State, and his 993 yards rushing that fall has been surpassed only by Eddie Price. Through the air, quarterback Mike Walker and receiver Steve Barrios connected on some big plays, as Walker set a season record for yardage gained per completion and Barrios set a season record for yards gained per reception. The NCAA went to the 11 game schedule that fall, and Tulane finished the regular season 7-4. After the regular season, the Green Wave received its first bowl invite since the Sugar Bowl beckoned the 1939 team. The opponent was a massive, talented Colorado team that had demolished Alabama in the Liberty Bowl the year before. Tulane was given little chance against a team averaging over 400 yards of total offense per game, but the Green Wave defense limited the Buffaloes to 175 yards. Abercrombie ran wild on a bright, chilly Memphis afternoon, and, as it turned out, it was Colorado who had no chance to win. The final score of 17-3 made it sound closer than it really was. The week after the game, it was announced that Jim Pittman had decided to accept an offer to coach TCU in 1971.
1971: Former Tulane quarterback Bennie Ellender returned to his alma mater as head coach, fresh from leading Arkansas State to a college division national championship in 1970. The Green Wave returned quite a few good football players from the previous season's Liberty Bowl champions and excitement ran high. The results, unfortunately, did not match those expectations as Tulane lost its last five games to finish 3-8. Ellender did not lose a season opener in his five years as head coach at Tulane, and Texas Tech was his 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 back 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 with a shoulder injury, but his return against North Carolina gave the Wave an obvious 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, most ever by a Tulane sophomore, 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.
1972: 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 inadvertantly 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 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 at midseason, Ewing scored five TDs in 1972, bringing back three punt returns and two interceptions for scores. The Green Wave's 1972 defense was one of the best in the school's 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 were also key factors that fall, providing Tulane with one of the most effective brother combinations in its first 100 years of football. Freshmen were eligible for varsity play in 1972 and middle guard Mark Olivari, wide receiver Jaime Garza and running back Steve Treuting made a huge contribution that fall.
1973: 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 old Tulane Stadium. Foley led the 1973 team in both passing and rushing and was named MVP at season's end. Foley 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 that fall. It was a year to remember, as only the 1931 and 1934 teams won more games in one season. The bowl game against Houston was one Tulane would rather forget, as an explosive Cougar squad romped 47-7 in the Astrodome.
1974: The Green Wave got off to another strong start, but this time the roof fell in after the winning streak ended. With senior quarterback Steve Foley continuing his inspired play from the season before, Coach Bennie Ellender's fourth Tulane team roared off 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 the Georgia Tech team 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.
1975: 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. Ellender retooled his offense for the 1975 season to take advantage of the strong throwing arm of quarterback Terry Looney, one of the heroes of the Green Wave's win over LSU in 1973. Looney went down with a season-ending knee injury a week before the season opener. Tulane won that season opener anyway, defeating Ole Miss 14-3 in the first college game played in the Louisiana Superdome. Tulane got off to a 4-2 start that fall as seldom-used senior Buddy Gilbert took over the quarterback job and delivered. Gilbert established season records for passes completed and yards gained passing. His favorite target was senior Jaime Garza, who led Tulane in receiving for the third consecutive season. After a 4-2 start that included wins over Clemson, Ole Miss, West Virginia and Boston College, 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. The following week, Ellender, the winningest coach at Tulane in 25 years, was fired.
1976: Coach Larry Smith took over the Tulane helm for the 1976 season, and as so often happens with a coaching change, things got worse before they got better. The unquestioned bright spot in a 2-9 season was the presence of freshman quarterback Roch Hontas, who would become one of Tulane's all-time greats. Hontas completed 61 of 114 pass attempts for 697 yards as a part-time starter that fall, the first of four seasons in a row 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.
1977: Sophomore Roch Hontas was the bright spot in a 3-8 season as he completed 118 of 186 pass attempts for a school record 63.4 percent. Against SMU, Hontas completed 33 of 42 passes for 373 yards, one of the top passing performances in Green Wave history. At one point, Hontas was 33 for 38. Coach Larry Smith was still early in the process of building his program, but he 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. There were some rough moments, but 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.
1978: The record crept up to 4-7, but Coach Larry Smith's third Tulane team came on strong at the end to augur the bright future that was to come. Junior quarterback Roch Hontas had another fine season as he became the first Tulane passer to complete more than 100 passes twice in a career. Against Memphis State, 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, a figure surpassed by only two other Tulane backs. Junior kicker Ed Murray kicked a 54-yard field goal against Memphis State, tying Mark Olivari's 1975 record for Tulane's longest ever. On defense, sophomores Frank Robinson and Marty Wetzel each had more than 100 tackles. The 1978 team lost its first four games, then finished 4-3 to gain some momentum toward what would be an outstanding 1979 campaign.
1979: The 1979 squad won as many games as Coach Larry Smith's first three teams combined to finish the regular season 9-2 and earn an invitation to play Penn State in the Liberty Bowl. The 1979 team scored 320 points, the third highest total in the first 100 years of Tulane football. The offensive leader was senior quarterback Roch Hontas, who turned in one of the outstanding single-season performances in Tulane football history. Hontas completed 215 of 367 pass attempts for 2,345 yards and 21 TDs, all 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 with 582 yards. Kicker Ed Murray was perfect on 35 extra point attempts and set a new 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 on a cold, wet December afternoon in Memphis. During the offseason, Smith accepted the head coaching position at the University of Arizona, leaving the Tulane campus on an obvious high note.
1980: Vince Gibson took over the head coaching reins and led Tulane to a 7-4 regular season record and an invitation to the Hall of Fame Bowl in Birmingham, 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 in style, tying Hontas' single-season TD pass mark of 21. Altogether, Hall passed and ran for a school-record 174 points and turned in several memorable performances. Against SMU, Hall set a total offense record with 384 yards, including an 84-yard pass to Marcus Anderson, 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. In the Hall of Fame Bowl at Birmingham's Legion Field, Arkansas took a 34-15 win.
1981: With Nickie Hall graduated, head coach Vince Gibson struggled to find an adequate replacement at the all-important quarterback position. When Gibson found his man, the 1981 team went from mediocre to excellent in a hurry. Junior college transfer Mike McKay watched from the sidelines while the Green Wave sputtered to an 0-3 start. In game four, another loss, McKay finally played in the second half when everyone else was injured, and flashed the form that was to turn things around. With McKay doing most of the quarterbacking, the Green Wave won six of its last seven games to finish 6-5. In eight games, McKay's stats were 78 completions in 124 attempts for 927 yards, only three interceptions and 10 TDs. Running back Marvin Lewis had a big year, rushing for 860 yards and nine TDs. Tight end Rodney Holman, who went on to a long NFL career with the Bengals, ended his Tulane career as the Green Wave's all-time leading receiver 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 an awesome 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 sustained by the 1981 team were by less than nine points, including a 13-5 decision to eventual national champion Clemson. In the season finale, Tulane crushed LSU 48-7. It was the second win in three years for Tulane over the Tigers, and the Green Wave's biggest margin of victory in the series since a 46-0 win in 1948.
1982: Vince Gibson's last Tulane squad was the only one he coached to a losing record, but the 1982 team ended its season in style with a 31-28 win over Orange Bowl-bound LSU in Tiger Stadium. With the rain pouring down and time running out, quarterback Mike McKay tossed a fourth-down, 31-yard TD pass to fullback Reggie Reginelli for the game-winner as the Green Wave came from behind to win 31-28. It was the third and final lead change of one of the great games in the long Tulane-LSU series. It was Tulane's third win over LSU in four seasons and gave the Green Wave a final record of 4-7. McKay enjoyed a fine year passing the football, throwing for 1,903 yards and ending up as Tulane's career leader in completion percentage at 59.8 percent. His prime target was Robert Griffin, who had a then-record 56 receptions. Tony Wood had a fine season kicking the football, as he kicked 52- and 53-yard field goals and was perfect on 22 extra points. Three days after defeating LSU, Gibson resigned after posting a 17-17 record in three seasons.
1983: Wally English took over the Tulane head coaching position in 1983, commencing a controversial two-year reign. The day before the 1983 season opener with Mississippi State, Jon English, Wally's son, filed suit in district court in New Orleans against the NCAA and Tulane, alleging that he was unjustly being deprived of a final season of eligibility. He asked for and received a temporary restraining order that allowed him to play while the case worked its way through the court process, and he got to play six games before his attorneys ran out of legal maneuvers and he was declared ineligible. The two games that Tulane won while Jon English played were forfeited to Ole Miss and Florida State, and the Green Wave wound up with a 2-9 record. 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 of the season. The 1983 team lost a lot of close games and was beaten by two TDs only once all season. Dent set a new Tulane record for tackles in a season with 172 that fall to register the most impressive individual performance.
1984: Coach Wally English led the Green Wave to a 3-8 record in his final season as head coach, defeating Vanderbilt, USM and Memphis State. Ken Karcher, a transfer from Notre Dame, 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, this time with 139. The Tulane-LSU game was called off 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.
1985: Mack Brown, barely 34 years old when the 1985 season kicked off, took over the head coaching and athletic director responsibilities and set about rebuilding the football program. Coach Wally English had relied rather heavily on junior college recruiting, while Brown preferred mining the high schools for talent, so the transition was going to take time. The Green Wave struggled through a long 1-10 season 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. Sophomore Marc Zeno set new 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.
1986: Tulane had paid its dues the previous season, and it was time to start back up the ladder to respectability. Coach Mack Brown's second team took some lumps, but the record improved to 4-7 and it was becoming obvious better days were ahead. One reason better days were ahead was sophomore quarterback Terrence Jones, who leaped from the "diamond in the rough" category to the head of the class when he got his chance to be Tulane's starting quarterback. In the season opener with TCU, Jones set a new 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 and suffered only seven interceptions while completing 159 of 284 pass attempts. Receiver Marc Zeno had another dynamite season, catching 68 passes for 1,033 yards. With a full season left, Zeno already held 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. Tulane beat Vanderbilt, USM, USL and Memphis State that fall.
1987: 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, race-horse type of 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. Highlight of the season statistically was the play of senior Marc Zeno, who 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 Tulane records in those areas. 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 was another Green Wave player who kept the scoreboard operator busy as he scored 11 TDs. Against Virginia Tech, Allen scored four touchdowns, three on short runs and another on a 76-yard bomb from Jones as Tulane won 57-38, the most points scored by the Green Wave since 1950. Tulane amassed a school-record 370 points. The Green Wave and LSU played one of the great games in their long 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 coch at North Carolina. He coached the bowl game, which the Green Wave lost 24-12 to Washington.
1988: Greg Davis, Tulane's assistant head coach under Mack Brown, was promoted to the top spot for the 1988 season and led his first Green Wave team to a 5-6 record. Davis won his first game 33-19 over Tennessee-Chattanooga, Tulane's first season-opening win since 1979. The Green Wave got off to a 3-1 start, but a four-game losing streak after that dampened chances for a winning season. The losing streak was snapped with wins over Ole Miss and Mississippi State, but the squad fell short of a winning season by losing to LSU in the season finale. The 1988 season marked the end of the fabulous college career of Terrence Jones, who accumulated 9,445 total offense yards to rank among the top 10 in NCAA history. Jones smashed nearly every career passing record during his four years on campus. Jones 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. Junior Michael Pierce also emerged as an offensive threat as he smashed Tommy Mason's 28-year-old record for all-purpose yardage with 1,644. Defensively, Mitchell Price intercepted five passes and returned a punt 59 yards for a TD in the win over Tennessee-Chattanooga. Linebacker Richard Harvey led the team in tackles for the third straight season.
1989: The Green Wave slipped to a 4-8 finish in 1989. Coach Greg Davis led his team against the first 12-game regular season schedule in the school's history, including the season opener at Hawaii. Deron Smith replaced Terrence Jones as starting 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 that fall, connecting 11 times for 271 yards, including a 77-yard TD pass. Smith threw for 370 yards that afternoon, the third best passing day in Tulane history. McIntosh's 271 yards were the most ever by a Tulane receiver. Freshman fullback Chance Miller gained 99 yards in the season opener with Hawaii before injuring his knee. He missed the next six games after undergoing surgery, but in his second game back he ran for 106 yards against Memphis State. Sophomore Terrance Strickland caught 47 passes, the most ever in one season by a Tulane running back, and fellow halfback Michael Pierce was just behind him with 46 catches. Defensive back Mitchell Price led the team in interceptions for the third straight season, picking off five.
1990: Coach Greg Davis entered the 1990 campaign with aspirations for his first winning season, but instead finished 4-7. The Wave suffered its worst season-opening loss in 22 years when USL rolled to a 48-6 win in the Louisiana Superdome, but Davis rallied his troops to wins over Rice and SMU to resurrect some of those positive preseason expectations. A five-game losing streak ensued, but the team responded to adversity, bashing Cincinnati 49-7 and upsetting Syracuse on the road, 26-24. The season ended with a 16-13 loss to LSU in Tiger Stadium. Sophomore running back Chance Miller had a big year for the Wave, as his 805 yards rushing were the most by a Tulane runner since 1981. Against LSU, Miller's 158 yards were the most by a Tulane back since 1978. Quarterback Deron Smith closed his Tulane career with another 2,000-yard passing season. His favorite target was wide receiver Melvin Ferdinand, who caught 57 passes.
1991: The 1991 season was one of the most trying in Tulane football annals, as the Green Wave struggled to a 1-10 record. The season opened with nine consecutive losses before Tulane whipped Navy. In game three against Mississippi State, Tulane was shut out for the first time since 1977 (a 152-game span), and it happened twice more before the season was over. While the team struggled, there were some individual accomplishments of note. Sophomore Wil Ursin caught 70 passes for 969 yards and nine TDs, one of the top single-season performances in Tulane history. Against East Carolina, Ursin caught a Tulane-record 15 passes and had three TD receptions in the second half as a furious rally fell short. The next weekend, he caught three more TDs in the first half against Navy to spark Tulane to its only win of the season. Senior Jerome Woods and sophomore Billy Duncan shared the quarterback spot in 1991, and for the first time in school history two players passed for more than 1,000 yards. Defensively, freshman safety Mike Staid led the team in tackles with 108 and in interceptions with three. Late in the season, Coach Greg Davis announced his resignation, effective after the season finale with LSU.
1992: The Buddy Teevens era began on a bright note as the Green Wave won its season opener over SMU by a score of 13-12. It was the first road season opener Tulane had won since 1975. Three weeks later, the Green Wave beat Nevada 34-17 to improve to 2-2. However, the Green Wave did not win again and finished 2-9. Starting quarterback Billy Duncan broke his right ankle in game three, and his absence for six games was a significant drawback to Tulane's efforts to improve the won-loss record. After the 2-2 start, Tulane battled eventual national champion Alabama fiercely in game five, holding the Crimson Tide without a touchdown for nearly three quarters before losing 37-0. Narrow losses the next two weeks to USM and Boston College followed by a blowout loss to Memphis State ended Tulane's slim hopes for a winning season. Sophomore Joey Perry led Tulane rushers with 429 yards, scoring both TDs in the season-opening win over SMU and bolting 66 yards for a score against Nevada. Slowed by injuries, fullback Chance Miller rushed for 306 yards and ended a fine career as the fifth-leading rusher in Tulane history with 2,023 yards. Junior Wil Ursin had another standout season as a receiver, catching 55 passes for 755 yards. The season produced two of the five longest pass plays in school history: a 77-yarder from Duncan to Steve Ballard against LSU and a 76-yarder from Shawn Meadows to Ursin vs. Boston College. Defensively, sophomore Mike Staid led Tulane in tackles (133) and interceptions (3) for the second consecutive year.
1993: Year two of the Teevens era - the centennial season of Tulane football - produced an improved product over the season before. In the opener against defending national champion Alabama, Jerald Sowell broke off a 98-yard run, the longest play from scrimmage in school history. In the home opener against William & Mary two weeks later, the Wave pitched a 10-0 shutout, Tulane's first blanking of an opponent since 1973. Two weeks later, the Green Wave defeated Navy 27-25 on Bart Baldwin's 43-yard field goal as time expired. Tulane also won at Southern Mississippi, 17-15. Newcomer Craig Randall started 10 games at quarterback and passed for 1,565 yards. Sowell was the leading rusher with 403 yards, second-most ever by a freshman back. Wil Ursin had his third consecutive 50-reception season, while Mike Staid led Tulane in tackles for the third straight year with 133.
1994: Teevens' third season produced only one victory, but had its share of exciting moments. The one win came at Rice, 15-13, on a 47-yard field goal by Bart Baldwin as time expired, his school-record fifth field goal of the day. Kick returner Jeff Liggon had a huge season, setting an NCAA record for kickoff return yards and tying another for number of kickoffs returned. Safety Mike Staid, who started all 45 games in which he played at Tulane, ended his career as the No. 2 all-time leading tackler in school history with 481. Another senior safety, Cedric Thomas, ended his career in a big way against LSU with two touchdowns - one on a fumble return, the other on a blocked punt recovery in the end zone. Running back Jerald Sowell became the first player in school history to have 600 yards rushing and 30 receptions in the same season.
1995: The fourth season under Teevens marked the end of an era - Tulane's last season as an independent. The Green Wave defeated Wake Forest and Rice on consecutive weekends to jump out to a 2-1 start, but starting quarterback Aley Demarest was injured in the next game at Southern Miss and freshman Shaun King was pressed into action. King became the first frosh in school history to pass for more than 1,000 yards, and Jamaican Dartez made his mark as the most prolific freshman rusher in school history with 544 yards. Dartez also rushed for 10 touchdowns, matching the most by a Tulane back since the war years. Four of Tulane's nine losses were by less than a touchdown, including a wild 45-40 shootout against Rutgers in which King passed for 372 yards, third-most in school history. Linebacker Derrick Singleton, in his first year as a starter, led Tulane with 126 tackles.
1996: Tulane's fifth and final season under Teevens resulted in a 2-9 record. The year got off to a rousing start when the Wave traveled to Cincinnati and won the first game in Conference USA history over the Bearcats, 34-14. Tulane would lead at halftime in each of its other four conference games, but lost all four by a total of 16 points, including two on last-second field goals. The Green Wave also defeated TCU, 35-7. Sophomore Shaun King started all 11 games at quarterback and passed for 1,574 yards and eight touchdowns. Jerald Sowell (595 yards) and Jamaican Dartez (583) formed one of the best back tandems in school history. Brian Williams led the defense with 100 tackles, while Derrick Singleton had 77 tackles and three interceptions in only eight games. On special teams, Jeff Liggon set two NCAA career records for kickoff returns and was named the conference's special teams player of the year.
1997: First-year head coach Tommy Bowden guided the Green Wave to its most wins since 1980, completing the campaign with a 7-4 record. Tulane finished second in Conference USA with a 5-1 mark, its best conference record and finish since 1949. Under Bowden, the team the team set 25 school and conference records, including the mark for points in a season with 375. After opening the season with a 31-17 win over Cincinnati and two tough loses to Rice and Syracuse, Tulane won three consecutive games, outscoring the opposition by a combined 138-49. In addition to the high point totals, the Wave also posted these landmark numbers.
Defensively, Tulane allowed 20.5 points per game, the fewest it has allowed since 1981. Tulane posted two shutouts in a season for the first time since 1973. The Green Wave posted a pair of 50-point games in one season for the first time since 1930 and scored at least 40 points on four occasions for the first time since 1928. Besides setting a Conference USA record, the 64 points against Louisville was the most by a Tulane team since 1950. Individually, quarterback Shaun King earned Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year honors after throwing for nearly 2,600 yards and a school-record 25 touchdowns. Kicker Brad Palazzo led the nation in field goals per game and earned third-team All-America honors, the first Tulane player to do so since 1987.
1998: The most successful season in the first 107 years of Tulane football was put together as those things have to be done...one game at a time. Some of those games were no contest from beginning to end, some saw Tulane romp early and coast home, some were hotly contested until Tulane pulled away at the end, and one of them came down to the last play of the game. When it was all over, Tulane was 12-0 and it was a season for the ages.
The 1998 team was the first Tulane squad to win 12 games in a season, the third unbeaten, untied squad in school history (5-0 in 1900 and 9-0 in 1929) and only one opponent-Louisville-- was within a touchdown at game's end. The 1998 team smashed Tulane's single season team scoring record, totaling 499 points during the regular season, which was 124 more points than any Green Wave team had ever scored. The Green Wave scored at least 40 points in nine of 12 games, including seven times in a row to end the season. Great teams are led by great players, and Tulane's Shaun King was a great football player during the 1998 season as he broke almost every Tulane season and career record for passing. When it was all over, he had become the first NCAA 1-A player ever to amass 3000 yards passing and 500 yards rushing in an 11 game regular season, and had established a new NCAA 1-A passing efficiency record of 183.3. While impressive, those statistics do not begin to describe the game-by-game impact that Shaun King's 38 TD passes and 11 rushing touchdowns had on Tulane's unbeaten run to the Conference USA football championship, a decisive win over Brigham Young in the Liberty Bowl and a season ending No. 7 national ranking. With King running the no huddle offense, opposing defenses had more than they could handle as prime targets PJ Franklin and JaJuan Dawson constantly broke wide open while running backs Toney Converse and Jamaican Dartez were bursting into the secondary through creases opened by a strong offensive line. Everything seemed to work, and it worked game after game right from the beginning. The 1998 season began with road wins over Cincinnati and SMU, as the Green Wave opened insurmountable leads going into the fourth quarter and coasted home. The home opener against Navy followed the same script, as King tossed a pair of TDs each to Franklin and Dawson and ran for another as Hurricane Georges took dead aim on New Orleans.
The Hurricane barely brushed the Crescent City, but Tulane and Southern Mississippi both missed practice time in the storm's aftermath as they prepared for what proved to be the game that decided the Conference USA Championship. To heighten the drama, King had broken his left wrist during the Navy game and was forced to play the remainder of the season in a soft cast. The Green Wave needed the defense to play its best game to have a chance against the defending CUSA champs, and it got just that as six USM turnovers fed a 21-7 Tulane win.
Two weeks later, Louisville gave the Green Wave its toughest challenge of the season. With Tulane leading 28-22, the Cardinals drove down to the three yard line, but on the last play of the game Sophomore defensive back Tim Carter broke up a pass in the end zone to seal win number five. It was to be the only game in which anyone came close to beating this Tulane football team. The Green Wave exploded for 165 points the next three weeks to bury Rutgers,USL and Memphis and lift the season mark to 8-0.
The Tulane-Army game at West Point was probably the most exciting of a memorable season. With King running for three TDs and passing for three more, Tulane and Army lit the scoreboard up all afternoon before a packed house. A 21-21 halftime deadlock turned into a 28-28 tie late in the third quarter. Converse ran for a TD late in the third quarter and the Tulane defense produced a turnover that King cashed in with a TD pass to Dawson on the first play of the fourth quarter to put the Green Wave ahead 42-28 and seemingly put the Cadets to sleep. Army, however, responded with another score and it was up to the Tulane offense to preserve a 42-35 lead with 10:54 left in the game.
Not to worry. In an incredible personal effort, King capped a long scoring drive with a 20 yard TD scramble through what seemed like the whole Army defense to clinch win number nine. Against Army, King became the first Tulane player to ever run for 100 yards and throw for 300 yards in the same game.
Decent ball clubs from Houston and Louisiana Tech did their best to derail Tulane's drive to a perfect season, but there was no stopping this Green Wave football team, especially in the perfect conditions provided by the Louisiana Superdome. Houston and Louisiana Tech moved the football and scored some points, but King and his mates were unstoppable on offense in rolling to convincing wins that edged the Green Wave into the nation's Top Ten.
On Thanksgiving evening, the Green Wave amassed 633 yards of total offense against Tech, as Converse scored four TDs in a 63-30 win. Sporting an 11-0 record, C-USA champion Tulane was paired with Brigham Young, the nation's number five defensive team, in the Liberty Bowl on New Year's Eve.
The Bowl matchup, before a national television audience, was just another day at the office for Tulane, as King passed and ran the Green Wave to a 34-6 lead after three quarters on the way to a 41-27 win. Shortly after the regular season ended, Coach Tommy Bowden announced that he had decided to become head coach at Clemson and the Liberty Bowl win was coached by new Head Coach Chris Scelfo and Bowden's assistants, nearly all of whom were leaving the program. Hurricanes, broken bones, coaching changes and that bullseye they wore on their jerseys for much of the season were not nearly enough to deter this Tulane team from its date with destiny.
1999: A devastating rash of injuries combined with an inexperienced team spelled a tough season for Tulane in 1999. After an opening loss to Southern Miss, Coach Chris Scelfo rallied his young troops to impressive wins over SMU and Army and things were looking up. However, numerous injuries forced young players into critical roles. The task of replacing Shaun King at quarterback fell on the shoulders of sophomore Patrick Ramsey. In the Green Wave's three wins, Ramsey completed 103-of-150 pass attempts for 12 touchdowns, and in narrow losses to Ole Miss, Houston and UAB, he completed 88-of-159 attempts for another eight scores. Offensively, the Green Wave had a record-setting season behind the passing of Ramsey and the receiving duo of Adrian Burnette and JaJuan Dawson, who smashed several single-game, season and career receiving records. Freshman defensive back Quentin Brown had 50 tackles and broke up a half-dozen passes in only eight games. The kicking game was a strong point, as Casey Roussel averaged 44.2 yards per punt and Seth Marler kicked nine consecutive field goals. The season finale against UAB, which the Green Wave lost 20-17, was the first overtime game in Tulane history.
2000: With victories in its last three games, Tulane ended its 2000 campaign by posting the program's third winning season in the last four years. Following a 49-20 loss to Ole Miss that turned on a controversial interception, the Green Wave dropped a 37-17 decision at C-USA foe East Carolina while playing without quarterback Patrick Ramsey. In a critical contest vs. SMU, Tulane posted a 29-17 victory behind the passing of Ramsey (34-50, 347 yards), the running of freshman Mewelde Moore (104 yards) and the kicking of Seth Marler (three FGs). The next week, Tulane held off Cincinnati to even its record at 2-2 as Moore passed the 100-yard mark for the third straight game. The Green Wave went to UL-Lafayette and prevailed by a single point as Roxie Shelvin blocked the potential game-tying PAT with under four minutes remaining. A pair of losses dropped the Wave's record below .500 just in time for a visit to C-USA leader Louisville. Tulane battled the Cardinals to the final play before succumbing 35-32. Tulane returned home for its final three contests. First, the Wave demolished Houston 41-23 as Ramsey hit four different receivers with touchdown passes and senior Adrian Burnette tallied 112 receiving yards. In the next game, Ramsey tied the school record with five touchdown passes and threw for 380 yards as Tulane topped Navy 50-38. With a winning season riding on the season finale with Memphis, Tulane put together its best all-around performance of the year, dominating offensively and defensively to finish 6-5. Ramsey finished the season with four straight 300-yard passing games. Offensive tackle Bernard Robertson and punter Casey Roussel picked up third team All-America honors and Moore's 890 rushing yards were the most by a Tulane back since 1970 and the highest total ever for a freshman. He was named Conference USA Freshman of the Year.
2001: Running back Mewelde Moore, quarterback Patrick Ramsey and kicker Seth Marler rewrote large sections of the Green Wave football record book as Tulane fielded one of its most explosive offensive units in 2001. The fireworks on the Tulane side of the scoreboard could not produce a winning season as Chris Scelfo's third Tulane team finished 3-9. Moore, Tulane's first 1,000-yard rusher in over 50 years, broke Eddie Price's single-season record by rushing for 1,421 yards. He also became the first player in the history of NCAA Division I-A to rush for more than 1,250 yards and catch more than 60 passes in a season. Against Cincinnati, he set the Tulane and Conference USA single game records for rushing yards with 249, and against Navy, he became the first Tulane player to tally 100 rushing (131) and receiving (130) yards in the same game. Ramsey set career marks for TD passes, completions, attempts and passing yards. After the season, he was named a National Scholar Athlete by the National Football Foundation/College Football Hall of Fame. Marler received the Lou Groza Award as the nation's outstanding kicker as he connected on 15 of 16 field goal attempts and was named to several All-America teams, including Tulane's first first-teamer since 1987. Defensively, the Green Wave was led by safety Adrian Mitchell's 138 tackles and Lynaris Elpheage's three interceptions.
2002: An aggressive and opportunistic defense, superior special teams play and a young offense that came together behind new quarterback J.P. Losman and star running back Mewelde Moore, propelled Tulane to just its second eight-plus win season since 1979. The season culminated with a pair of upset victories as the Green Wave dominated Southern Miss, 31-10, in the regular season finale, earning a trip to the Hawai'i Bowl to meet Hawai'i on ESPN. The heavily favored Warriors jumped out to a 14-0 lead and enjoyed a 14-6 halftime advantage before MVP Lynaris Elpheage returned two third-quarter punts - the first for a 60-yard touchdown and the second for 56 yards to set up another score - that turned the game around. Tulane took a 20-14 lead that it would not relinquish. The Wave defense collected eight sacks and forced three turnovers while Losman scored a pair of rushing touchdowns and Moore ran for 116 yards in a 38-26 win. To get to Hawai'i, the Green Wave overcame a brutal opening stretch that included three straight Conference USA road games. TU went 2-3 over the first month of the season with victories over Southern and Houston before falling to East Carolina and Memphis on the road, and to No. 3 Texas in the Superdome. Tulane rebounded in October, ripping off four straight victories beginning with a 52-9 win at Louisiana-Monroe as the Green Wave defense did not allow a touchdown for the first time since 1997. A pair of victories over C-USA foes Cincinnati and UAB followed before Navy came to New Orleans for the homecoming game at Tad Gormley Stadium in City Park. In Tulane's first outdoor home game since 1974, Losman tied the school record with five TD passes and Moore broke the Green Wave career rushing record before a sellout crowd of 28,123. Moore finished his junior season as just the second player in school history to post back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons. The Green Wave defense led the nation in turnovers gained while surrendering just 21.7 points per game.
2003: Behind quarterback J.P. Losman and running back Mewelde Moore, Chris Scelfo's fifth team sprinted out to a 3-1 record before injuries decimated the Green Wave defense. A five-game losing streak in the middle of the season derailed Tulane's chances at a winning season, although the Wave came back to win two of its last three games. Tulane opened the season versus defending league champ TCU on ESPN. After falling behind 31-7, the Green Wave staged a thrilling comeback that fell just short in a 38-35 loss. The Wave then won its next three contests. First, Losman hit Moore with a 23-yard TD to give Tulane an overtime victory over Northwestern State in the first night game at Tad Gormley Stadium. A week later versus Mississippi State, Barrett Pepper kicked a 32-yard field goal with six seconds left to cap a 17-point fourth-quarter comeback to give Tulane its first win over an SEC team in 25 games. Finally, Tulane defeated Army at West Point, 50-33, as Losman posted his fourth-straight 300-yard passing game. Moore broke the Conference USA rushing record in the Texas game a week later, but the No. 14 Longhorns dominated the Green Wave, 63-18. Tulane then suffered a 45-42 defeat to Houston in the Homecoming game at Tad Gormley. The losing streak continued at Louisville, where the Wave fell 47-28 in an ESPN contest, and at home versus Memphis. Each week new players were moved to the defensive line, where the Wave lost nearly two full sets of players to injury. A game at Navy brought Tulane's fifth consecutive loss, and the loss of Moore for the season with a broken hand. Tulane broke the streak with a 38-24 win at UAB. The defense came up with four turnovers, Losman threw three touchdown passes, while Jovon Jackson gained 183 yards and scored two touchdowns, including one on an 85-yard run to seal the win. The next week, Tulane gave up 17 first-quarter points to Southern Miss before fighting back. A Losman-Bush hook-up made the score 20-14, but USM put the game away on a 34-yard touchdown pass on a fake field goal attempt. Tulane ended the season on a bright note with a 28-18 win over East Carolina. In the end, Moore left Tulane with 25 school and league rushing and all-purpose records while receiver Roydell Williams posted a 1,000-yard receiving season. Four defenders finished with more than 100 tackles, led by safety Tra Boger, as the Wave started 11 different lineups on defense during the year.
2004: A three-game November winning streak and four victories in its last six contests lifted Tulane to its second straight five-win season in 2004. Along the way, the Green Wave upset a pair of bowl-bound teams and went on the road to defeat the defending Conference USA champions. With a new starting quarterback in Lester Ricard, a defensive line made up of underclassmen, and faced with the task of replacing all-time rushing and all-purpose yardage leader Mewelde Moore, the Green Wave started slowly. In September, a home win over Florida A&M, highlighted by a three-touchdown, 134-yard rushing day by Jovon Jackson, was sandwiched between losses to Mississippi State and Southern Miss. After falling at East Carolina on a last-second field goal, Tulane dropped a 49-24 decision at Memphis to fall to 1-4 on the season. However, on Homecoming at Tad Gormley Stadium, the Green Wave offense put on a show and the defense came up with critical stops as Tulane outscored UAB, 59-55. Ricard completed 36-of-49 passes for 417 yards and a school-record six touchdowns, three of which went to Roydell Williams, who caught 11 passes for 138 yards on the day. Chris Bush caught a pair of touchdown passes, including the game-winner with 27 seconds left. Tulane lost at Houston, but returned home for its most impressive performance of the season, a 42-10 domination of bowl-bound Navy. Ricard was uncanny, completing 18-of-19 passes for 323 yards and four scores. A week later versus Army, the Green Wave got 216 rushing yards and three TDs from freshman Matt Forté, and held on for a 45-31 win despite losing Ricard to a broken wrist. With Ricard sidelined, freshman Richard Irvin provided the heroics the next week as Tulane upset defending C-USA champ TCU in Fort Worth, 35-31. Irvin completed 22-of-37 passes for 282 yards and five TDs, while Bush caught six passes for 136 yards and two scores, including a 12-yarder with 43 seconds left that gave Tulane the win. Williams broke the school and league records for career touchdown catches in the game. Although the Wave was unable to slow No. 7 Louisville a week later in a game rescheduled from earlier in the season due to Hurricane Ivan, the 2004 season provided a promising glimpse of things to come.
2005: Spirits were high when the 2005 team met in August to begin preseason practice. After all, the squad returned 44 letterwinners and 17 starters from the team of a year ago. But before the Green Wave took a single snap against outside competition, life chenged for the team, the University and the Greater New Orleans Area as Hurricane Katrina forced the cancellation of the fall semester. After an evacuation to Jackson, Miss., a pitstop in Dallas and a relocation to Ruston, La., the Green Wave lived the life of nomads as Tulane played 11 games in 11 weeks in 11 different stadiums while going 2-9. The Green Wave played hard in the opener against Mississippi State, but with the score knotted at 14-all, a fourth-quarter fumble led to a Bulldog score with 7:44 left to play. The squad bounced back well the following week at SMU, as Lester Ricard completed 22 of 34 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns as the Green Wave dumped SMU in the C-USA opener for both teams. A week later, Tulane defeated Southeastern Louisiana, but that would be the final victory of the year for the boys in olive and blue. The Green Wave never gave in to its opponents or its circumstances, but in the end, injuries to key personnel and the effects of being dislocated by the storm finally caught up with the team. Ricard led the team with 1,932 yards through the air, Matt Forté paced the club with 655 yards rushing, and Preston Brown enjoyed a break-through season at wideout where he snared 47 passes for 720 yards and six touchdowns. On defense, Anthony Cannon posted his fourth straight 100-yard tackle season (114), while Tra Boger led the way with three interceptions.
2006: Chris Scelfo's final year at Tulane was an up-and-down season. After spending the entire 2005 campaign away from its uptown campus because of damage brought on by Hurricane Katrina, the Green Wave returned home for the 2006 season. However, Tulane was once again forced to play 12 games during a 12-week stretch. The Wave opened the season with a dismal showing at Houston, but rebounded with a convincing, 32-29, victory at Mississippi State the following week. Tulane and LSU renewed their rivalry with the first of 10 straight meetings. In the first game between the two schools in five years, the Tigers topped the Wave, 49-7. Tulane played its first home game in the Superdome since 2004 when it hosted SMU in the opener. The Greenies battled back and took a late lead, but the Mustangs returned the ensuing kick-off for a touchdown to seize control of the game and Tulane dropped to 1-3. The following weeks, Tulane cruised past eventual New Orleans Bowl participant Rice, 38-24, but fell at UTEP. Tulane's offense moved the ball at will at No. 8 Auburn, but, suffered three turnovers inside the red zone and could not recover in a 38-13 loss. Tulane returned home and dispatched Army, 42-28, on homecoming behind quarterback Lester Ricard, who passed for 409 yards and three scores. The Wave gave Marshall a tough fight on the road and the game was tied, 21-21, heading into the fourth quarter. However, Tulane lost the services of leading rusher Matt Forté for the season when he suffered a season-ending injury making a tackle following a TU interception. Without Forte in the lineup, Marshall scored 21 unanswered points and prevailed, 42-21. Tulane managed a 1-2 record to finish the season, including a victory over UCF. Scelfo became the school's career leader for most games coached during the season, but was relieved of his coaching duties shortly after the final game at Tulsa.
2007: A new era in Tulane football began in 2007 with first-year head coach Bob Toledo taking over the reins of the Green Wave program. Toledo brought with him a proven West Coast offense and a resume full of success, but the season belonged to one player-- Matt Forté. Forté mesmerized defenses with his running ability and gave the Tulane faithful an once-in-a-lifetime experience throughout the season. Forté galloped for a Tulane single-season records with 2,127 yards and 23 touchdowns on 361 carries while ranking second on the team with 32 receptions for another 282 yards through the air. His rushing total and 177.2 rushing yards per game average ranked second in the NCAA in 2007, and he also ranked second nationally in scoring with 11.7 points per game. Forté's 2,127 rushing yards marked the seventh-best single-season rushing total in NCAA history and he became the 11th all-time player in to surpass 2,000 rushing yards in one season. He registered eight games with 100-plus yards, including three 200-plus yard games and two 300-plus yards contests. Despite Forté's heroic efforts, Tulane opened the season with a 1-5 record before Forte ran for a school and Conference USA single games record 342 yards and scored four touchdowns, including the game winner in overtime, to down SMU in Dallas, 41-34. Tulane won two of its final three games of the year, including convincing wins over UTEP and Rice in back-to-back games, but dropped heartbreakers to Army (in overtime), UAB and Memphis by a combined nine points.
2008: A season with a promising 2-2 start ended in disappointment as injuries decimated the Green Wave in 2008 and the team fi nished with a mark of 2-10. Tulane stayed toe-to-toe with 13th-ranked Alabama before falling late and dropped a heartbreaking contest to No. 14 East Carolina in the fi nal minutes to begin the season 0-2. Tulane rebounded with consecutive wins over in-state school UL-Monroe and Conference USA rival SMU to improve to 2-2. However, devastating injuries began to mount beginning with the fi fth game of the year with the loss to Army, and TU did not crack the win column again. By the time the clock hit 0:00 in the season fi nale at Memphis, Tulane had lost 17 players to season-ending injuries and many other players were sidelined with nagging injuries as well. Among the casualties was leading rusher André Anderson, who was named a Doak Walker Award candidate, and top receiver Jeremy Williams. The team's much-needed depth was gradually depleted over the course of the season and by the end of the year Tulane was relying on back-ups and true freshmen to fill in the holes alongside the remaining starters. Despite the adverse season, Tulane placed a combined three players on the All-Conference USA First and Second Teams and offensive lineman Troy Kropog, who played in the Under Armour Senior Bowl and was drafted in the fourth round by the Tennessee Titans, while center Michael Parenton signed a free agent contract with the New York Jets.
2009: Despite an overall record of 3-9, the 2009 Green Wave football team will go down as the first squad to feature a 1,000-yard rusher and 1,000-yard receiver in the same season and the season was highlighted with the most prolific freshman quarterback in school history. The Tulane senior duo of running back André Anderson and receiver Jeremy Williams etched their names in the TU annals after Anderson, a Doak Walker candidate, ran for 1,016 yards, becoming the fourth back in school history to eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing plateau in a single season, and Williams, a Fred Biletnikoff candidate, caught 84 passes for 1,113 yards, the fourth best effort in school history. Together, Anderson and Williams accounted for 17 touchdowns and 3,009 all-purpose yards. Tulane changed quarterbacks at the midway point of the season and redshirt-freshman quarterback Ryan Griffin took over for Joe Kemp and finished 141-of-222 for 1,382 yards and nine touchdowns. Griffin's completions, attempts, passing yardage and touchdown totals were the most by a Tulane freshman in school history. The Green Wave struggled to a 0-2 start with losses at home to Conference USA rival Tulsa and to No. 9 BYU, but the team rebounded with a victory over McNeese State and the following week at Army with a field goal in the final minutes for a thrilling come-from-behind victory. Tulane returned home with a chance to get past the .500 mark, but a 31-10 loss to Marshall on homecoming was the start of a four-game skid. Tulane recorded its last win of the season in the home finale with a 45-38 decision over UTEP. The Green Wave played its final three games of the season on the road and failed to crack the win column again.
2010: The 2010 season started on a promising note at 2-2, including a 17-14 win at Rutgers in early October. Losses in the next two games made it an uphill climb, but a 34-24 win at UTEP kept spirits up with three wins over the first seven games. Tulane held leads into the third quarter against both SMU and Southern Miss only to fall short on both occasions, and a 54-49 win over Rice kept bowl possibilities alive. A loss to UCF, however, ended those dreams and the Wave wrapped up the season with back-to-back losses. The year, however, was not without its highlights as Orleans Darkwa set a Tulane freshman record with 925 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns while linebacker Trent Mackey became the first player to hit the 100-tackle plateau with 124 stops.
2011: The Green Wave opened the season with its best start sine the 2005 season, including a road C-USA victory, but things declined after week three and Tulane was unable to crack the win column again. Bob Toledo's fifth season as head coach was cut short after the seventh game and Mark Hutson assumed coaching duties for the final six games. The season was highlighted by the individual performances of QB Ryan Griffin, RB Orleans Darkwa, LB Trent Mackey and DE Dezman Moses. Griffin led the squad in total offense with 2,492 yards, including 2,502 passing yards and 13 touchdowns. He threw for over 300 yards against both Syracuse and Memphis. Darkwa scampered for 924 rushing yards, scored 13 touchdowns on the ground and led the team with 37 catches for 305 yards. Mackey was named first team All-Conference USA after posting 145 stops, including 14.0 tackles for a loss. Moses collected 9.5 sacks and 12.0 tackles for a loss in his senior season.
2012: Curtis Johnson's era as Tulane's head coach began with Hurricane Isaac making landfall the week before the season, forcing the team to relocate to Birmingham, Ala., to prepare for Rutgers. Adversity struck the very next week in Tulsa when senior Devon Walker suffered a devastating spinal injury on the final play of the first half. The team and the country rallied behind Walker as the season progressed. Tulane earned the first victory of the season at home against SMU, 27-26, ad returned two weeks later to upend UAB, 55-45, in the Dome for the second win of the season. Senior QB Ryan Griffin and PK Cairo Santos provided the highlights for the season. Santos was named consensus All-American and received the Lou Groza Award as the nation's top place kicker. The junior hit all 21 field goal attempts during the year, including hitting a school record 57-yarder against Rice. Griffin, despite missing three and a half games, posted career highs across the board after completing 245-of-394 yards for 2,771 yards and 20 touchdowns. For his career, Griffin holds top honors in pass attempts (1,396) and completions (836) while sitting second all-time in passing yards (9,026), completion percentage (.599) and 300-yard games (10), fourth in touchdown passes, and sixth in passing efficiency (122.4).
2013: When Tulane opened the 2013 campaign under second-year head coach, Curtis "CJ" Johnson, there was plenty of enthusiasm and hope among the players and staff, but also a sense of urgency. The Green Wave's schedule seemed ripe for victories in the school's final season as a Conference USA member. The Green Wave enjoyed a turnaround season under Johnson that culminated in a 7-6 overall record, a 5-3 C-USA record and the school's first bowl appearance in 11 years with a berth in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. The Green Wave opened its 38th and final season in the Superdome (Tulane did not play in the Superdome in 2005 due to damage from Hurricane Katrina) against Jackson State on Aug. 29 and played its 220th and final game in one of the world's most iconic sports venues against UL-Lafayette in front of a New Orleans Bowl record crowd of 54,728 on Dec. 21, 2013. Tulane began the season with a 2-2 record but came alive in late September with a win at ULM that sparked a four-game win streak. Along the way, the Wave got past North Texas, 24-21, on homecoming thanks to a field goal by Cairo Santos as time expired. The next week, quarterback Devin Powell threw two touchdowns in overtime and Santos kicked a school record five field goals, including the game winner in a 36-33 win over East Carolina in a three-overtime affair. Powell continued to spark the Green Wave as he led Tulane to a 14-7 win at home over Tulsa for the sixth win of the year. Tulane suffered losses in four of its final five games but did top UTEP, 45-3, in its final C-USA game. Tulane's defense ranked second in the nation in turnovers (35: 19 int/16 fumbles recovered) and 22nd in overall defense. Sophomore Lorenzo Doss was named a second-team All-American by several publications, three players received national player of the week honors and six Green Wave earned C-USA Player of the Week honors on eight occasions. Off the field, Tulane was one of four schools to receive the prestigious AFCA Academic Achievement Award and junior safety Sam Scofield was named to the Capital One Academic All-America Second Team and was also named to the C-USA All-Academic Football Team.
This recap of the first 119 seasons of Tulane football was written by longtime Tulane statistician Gayle Letulle.