(Jan. 3) A one, a two, a helluva hullabaloo!

That’s the beginning of one of the silliest cheers in college football, the traditional celebration of touchdowns and wins at Tulane University, a school which saw too few of either touchdowns or wins for four score and seven years. A helluva hullabaloo also is what’s happening in New Orleans this week as the Crescent City goes wild over a Green Wave program that not too long ago drew barely 10,000 people to its games.

If you missed Tulane’s 46-45 Cotton Bowl victory over Southern Cal on Monday, you missed one of the most wildly entertaining games ever, one which caps a ludicrously improbable story. To tell the tale, or tales, it’s hard to know where to begin.

Consider head coach Willie Fritz. He played Division II football. He didn’t have the big-school connections to begin as an assistant anywhere anyone had heard of. He coached at a high school. He moved up to junior college coaching at Blinn College in Texas. Not exactly the big leagues. Somewhere along the line, he also had to serve as the track-meet stadium announcer.

But he won big at Blinn, and then for the Central Missouri Mules, then for the Sam Houston State Bearkats, then for Georgia Southern, where he and the Eagles both moved up to Division I (FBS) status for the first time ever. When Tulane finally hired Fritz, the Green Wave was so bad that it looked like a step back for him. All those 23 years of coaching in the hinterlands, winning big but never getting a chance at a big school, and his reward was to take over a program that in the previous 11 years had earned only 36 wins against 97 losses, a program that had not played in one of the six “major” bowls in 76 years or won a major postseason contest since the inaugural Sugar Bowl in 1935…. In the previous 1,693 games in which college teams trailed by 15 or more points with less than five minutes remaining, only a single time had a team come back to win. Chance of success: .05%. …. [The full column, about a glorious game and season, is at this link.]


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