Barnett: They can’t all be winners

Published 12:02 am Saturday, September 5, 2015

The biggest home team winner on the night for Tulane’s football season opener Thursday may have been an undergraduate bouncing on an inflatable horse named “King Arthur” in from the 20 yard line and taking home a free oil change. That is when the score had just turned 16-0 Duke.

Or it may have been the guy who successfully pitched a football into a shopping cart from ten yards away at the top of the fourth quarter, winning the Langenstein’s challenge. What he won, well I guess that is between him and the grocery store. This was just after a Duke wide receiver took a screen pass down the sideline to take the score to 23-0 and when you could definitely hear the Duke fans louder than the few Tulaners left in Yulman Stadium.

And then there were the fans who, in the most general of ways, won in getting a break from what could have easily been an excessively hot night. The temperature even bowed down to a smidgen under 80 degrees as the game approached midnight. But that is merely what we would consider a consolation. For many of the fans would have gladly braved the surface of the sun had their team been able to put anything together resembling a positive series of plays.

The play wasn’t all bad though. Destrehan native Tanner Lee hooked up with wide receiver Devon Breaux for a Green Wave 76-yard prayer of a touchdown. But the Blue Devils came right back with a 97-yard kickoff return.

That is all to say the season opener at Yulman Stadium was not an easy one for Tulane University.

Still, hometown locals got their time in. Former St. Charles Catholic star Lazedrick Thompson got the first carry of the season, four-year free safety starter Darion Monroe notched his 38th start and was all over the field making tackles. Former East St. John player Daren Williams also got the start at defensive end.

Ok, Duke came to Tulane’s campus and gave them a 37-7 drubbing to start the season. Surely this is not a good start to the season but winning isn’t everything after all. I find with a team who has not had as much success as some of their peers yet is still attracting fans, inhabits a kind of attractive humility and sense of community not expressed in our large college football programs. Also, not having to deal with the braggadocio of high expectation fans of historically winning programs is a relief.

In the weeks prior to the game Tulane head coach and River Parishes native Curtis Johnson talked a lot about his team making a bowl game this year. It appears they’ll have to go a long way to do that.

Johnson just entered his fourth year as Tulane’s head coach and the job has not been an easy one. While the Green Wave boasts a healthy dose of local talent, including 11 River Parishes players, four of which are starters, most of the state’s big recruits go off to top tier programs…LSU for instance. Still, Johnson has one bowl year to his name.

Tulane has made a series of moves in recent years, starting with bringing in Johnson from the Saints, building an on-campus stadium which makes it all the more depressing when the fans start filing out of the stadium early.

The Green Wave will face easier competition later on and has plenty of time to put in a winning season, and for Johnson’s sake I am hoping it does, but in the meantime I’ll be going to Yulman just to see our River Parish kids get their chance.

Kyle Barnett can be reached by phone at 985-652-9545 or email at