From the Sidelines

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 18, 1999

L’Observateur / August 18, 1999

Pleasures deferred are all the more sweeter.

Just ask Tulane football fans.

For years, Green Wave fans have watched their team become one of the whipping boys of college football. From 1951, the year the university putfootball on an austerity program and limited the number of scholarships that could be given, to 1997, the Green Wave had a total of 10 winning seasons. Or to put that in perspective, that was two less winning seasonsthan number of head coaches over that period.

But in 1998, the whipping boys whipped back.

Tulane figured to be good in 1998, coming off a 7-4 overall record and a 5-1 mark in Conference USA in Tommy Bowden’s first year as the Green Wave’s head coach. How good they would prove to be was beyond anyone’sexpectations.

Twelve straight wins and 13 overall stretching back to the final game of the 1997 season, the school’s longest winning streak since it won 18 straight over the 1930-31 seasons.

A 6-0 record in Conference USA for the team’s first conference title since it won the SEC in 1949. A victory in the Liberty Bowl over BYU, the GreenWave’s first bowl victory since 1970.

The list goes on and on. The 12-0 record was the best in school history. ANo. 7 ranking by the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN, its highestsince 1939. When the Green Wave broke into the Top 25 in October, itmarked the first national ranking for the team since Jimmy Carter was president and disco was in in 1979.

A major reason for the success of the team was an offense that ranked second in the country with 45.4 points per game. Nine times the GreenWave scored 40 or more points in a game, including seven straight to close out the season. Against USL, Tulane rolled up 72 points, its most in 61years, and gained 706 yards in total offense, its second most ever.

Leading this juggernaut of an offense was senior quarterback Shaun King, who set a single season record for pass efficiency. King threw 36touchdown passes while being intercepted six times.

King is gone now as is eight starters on defense and both kickers. In theirplace is a team that is hungry to prove that last year was no fluke. Feware giving the Green Wave much of a chance. They received just two votesin the preseason coaches’ poll and were picked as low as 88th by one preseason publication.

If Tulane is to have another dream season, it will come against a harder schedule than last year. And everyone of those teams will be gunning forthe Green Wave. The predator has become the prey.To be successful again, the Green Wave will have to do what they did last year and do it even better. A perfect season may not be possible again buta 7-4 season and another bowl bid are very much in reach. It’s now up tothe players and the coaches to determine whether last year was a mirage or the start of a dynasty for Tulane fans.

Return To Sports Stories

Copyright © 1998, Wick Communications, Inc.

Internet services provided by NeoSoft.

Best viewed with 3.0 or higher