Winning records and Tulane football haven’t been synonymous in recent memory.
Since the Green Wave joined Conference USA in 1996 and then moved to their current digs in the American Athletic Conference last year, they’ve had a total of five winning seasons. The longest drought between winning seasons stretched 10 years from 2003 until 2013, when Curtis Johnson won seven games in his second season.
Let’s be honest: 99.999 percent of success in college football has to do with the talent on the field and how the coaches manage that talent from recruiting to play calling to everything in between. That other 0.001 percent comes down to intangibles, which includes scheduling.
If a team has a balanced schedule — meaning a good mix of home games, road games, off weeks, etc. — it has a better chance at success. Makes sense, right?
Let’s break down Tulane’s schedule and see what kind of season the Green Wave might be in store for in 2015.
For starters, Tulane will be fresher than most teams around the nation to begin the season.
After the Green Wave open the season Thursday at home against Duke, they have nine days before their first road trip. Tulane heads to Atlanta to face Georgia Tech on Sept. 12 and those extra days should help when it comes to learning how to contain the option attack. One week later, Tulane hosts Maine in what will be the Green Wave's first game against an FCS opponent in two years. Then Tulane doesn't have another game for two weeks, but it's a big one as it revs up conference play when it welcomes UCF to New Orleans.
Looking at those four games, the Green Wave should have fresh legs but it's difficult to see them escaping with more than one win. Duke, breaking in a new team, could be ripe for the picking and Maine will be a gimmie, but covering the spread against Georgia Tech and UCF would be an accomplishment.
Following a road game at Temple the next week (Oct. 10), Tulane runs the AAC gauntlet. The Green Wave host Houston (Oct. 16) and go on the road to face Navy (Oct. 24) and Memphis (Oct. 31).
That stretch is absolutely brutal. Three road games in a four-week span and three games against the AAC's best, according to the preseason poll.
Tulane wraps up the season with two road games bracketed by home games. The Green Wave host UConn (Nov. 7), then travel to Army (Nov. 14) and SMU (Nov. 21) before concluding the regular season at home against Tulsa (Nov. 28).
All things considered, that's not a bad way to end the season. Those are four winnable games if Tulane hits its stride and stays healthy — two big components in college football. Mix in another win alongside the likely victory over Maine and the Green Wave might go bowling.