Tulane University, which began in 1834, has a number of excellent and long-standing traditions. Tulane’s Green Wave football program is among the longest with over a hundred and twenty-five years behind it. Located in the incredibly picturesque and laid back “Big Easy,” (New Orleans) you might not expect to find such a great college team or such a great school. Post Katrina, you might not expect much at all, but there’s a good reason southern sports fans are so vividly loyal to their teams. Whether you’re an old school fan, just getting familiar after seeing them in the Cure Bowl last year there’s plenty of history to enjoy. Even if you’ve never really heard of the Green Wave before, here are ten amazing facts you probably don’t know about Tulane football.
1. Huge Historical Turnaround
By 1900 Tulane was on its seventh coach in seven seasons. Worse than that, in 1899 they had no wins at all. H.T Summersgill took over at the turn of the century and led the team to an epic winning season. Not only were they unbeaten, but they were not even scored against. Coach Summersgill kept up the winning streak the next year but sadly left Tulane in 1902.
2. Cure Bowl Winners
Since it started in 2008, the Cure Bowl has been a bit different. Plenty of bowl games donate to charity but the bright pink Cure Bowl makes sure all the fans know their tickets are going to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Tulane’s 41-24 win of the Ragin’ Cajuns last year wasn’t exactly a game changer in national college history, but it did set them above (almost) all others in football-crazy Louisiana. The win skyrocketed Tulane to the number 2 spot in the state behind LSU. Additionally, it was the first time in Cure Bowl history when both teams came from the same state.
3. After The Storm
Loyalty in football is something many fans identify with on a deeply personal level. With so many sad stories from Hurricane Katrina, it’s easy to focus on the worst aspects, but Tulane Football is unique here as well because there is a surprising and often overlooked story of simple loyalty. After watching the whole city, and yes, much of the school, get decimated and flooded, you might think players would run for the hills and use their skill to get away from the disaster. At the very least you might think they’d sit out the season while they rebuilt, but not Tulane. Surprisingly only three members left. That may not be the most life-changing football story in US history, but it speaks to the teams’ deep love of their program and school. In fact, 1897 was the only year in Tulane history that they didn’t field a team and that, obviously, had nothing to do with Katrina.
4. Near Ivy League
Getting on to a college ball team is never a cakewalk, but it’s much harder if you want to play for a school like Harvard or other Ivy Leagues. Technically the Ivy League is a northeastern phenomenon, but Tulane isn’t far off. Less than a third of applicants get in at all. Most consider Tulane to be almost as elite as the Ivy Leagues. In addition to showing skill and a huge heart, Tulane Football is an incredibly smart program.
5. Unfortunate Uniforms
When NBC Sports was compiling the list of the ugliest uniforms of all time, the Green Wave made the list. Football fashion is something uniform designers spend blood, sweat, and tears over, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out. Though they came in middle of the road at number 12 on the ugly uniforms list, The Green Wave isn’t the best-dressed team.
In the beginning, the Tulane football program was represented by a mascot that was a huge green wave affectionately known as “Gumby”. Things have changed over the 125+ years they’ve been in the game. In 1998 Gumby was retired in favor of Riptide the Pelican. The classic “Angry Wave,” logo was also retired at one point, but it has since been brought back to active use alongside the famous “T”.
Some schools have just one rival, and that’s plenty. Tulane excels in many ways and when it comes to rivalries they keep up the tradition with four rivals. LSU is top of the heap in Louisiana college programs, but Tulane is happy to keep them on their toes. In addition to the in-state rivalry, Tulane and Southern Miss Battled for the Bell from 1979 to 2006. Newer rivalries include Ole Miss and Auburn.
8. Big Heart, Big Game, Big… Brains?
2019 marks a special occasion for Tulane Football and all the sports programs. Though they’ve been showing a steady upward academic progression since at least 2016, the players average GPAs are higher than they have been in at least half a decade. Football players aren’t always given enough credit for what’s under the helmet, but it’s hard to ignore the numbers. With 65 student-athletes on the Deans’ List this year (24 of which are perfect 4.0’s) Tulane knows how to play it smart.
9. SEC Titles
It has been quite some time but Tulane holds 3 SEC titles. This is three more than Vanderbilt, which joined the same year. Though the titles are from back in the ’40s a title is still a title, and Tulane has a lot to be proud of. In fact, Tulane holds 9 total conference titles over the years.
10. Going Home Again (Stadiums)
Tulane has used a number of stadiums over the years. The one actually called Tulane Stadium lasted from 1926 until 1980, which is a great run, though the Green Wave had stopped playing there some years before when it was officially closed in 1975. They played at the famous Superdome for almost forty years. In 2014 Yuleman Stadium became the new home of Tulane Football and brought the team all the way home to their own campus for the first time in man decades.