The Fall-Back Plan to the Fall-Back Plan
By Paul Myerberg // Oct 6, 2011
One report out of Big 12 country was expected: Missouri, as most had suggested, is looking towards the SEC as its future landing spot. Likewise, another report went along the suggested storyline: now that it has lost four teams — at least three, four if Missouri bolts — the Big 12 is looking towards B.Y.U., Boise State, Louisville and West Virginia as future members. Then there was a third report, one that was so ludicrous in its suggestion that you had no choice but to think that yes, conference expansion fever is contagious — and that nowadays, absolutely anything is possible.
Tulane was a charter member of the SEC back in 1933, when the league was composed of the current conference makeup, minus South Carolina and Arkansas, along with the Green Wave, Sewanee and Georgia Tech. At least Tulane still plays football on the F.B.S. level; Sewanee spent eight years in the SEC before taking a more laissez-faire approach to athletics, and now play on the Division III level.
Tulane lasted 32 years, opening with seven straight winning seasons but only six such years from 1940-65. That was it for the Green Wave and the SEC — the program was an Independent from 1966 through 1994, and was an original member in Conference USA in 1995.
New league, similar story. Tommy Bowden went 19-4 at Tulane from 1997-98; the program has had only two winning seasons, in 2000 and 2002, since 1996. Tulane’s record since joining Conference USA, counting this year’s 2-3 start, is 72-108. So Tulane’s been winning games at a 40 percent clip over the last 15-plus years, which is a shade worse than the program’s career winning rate of 45.9 percent.
And the Green Wave are going to be the next member of the Big 12? Probably not. This reeks of the fall-back plan to the fall-back plan for the fall-back plan. B.Y.U. is the first choice, let’s say. Louisville is second. West Virginia is there along with the Cardinals. Boise State scares the Big 12 on many levels, but the Broncos are clearly an option if another plan or two fails to come together.
Then there’s Tulane, which brings the bare minimum to the table in football terms — they have a team, but not much else. Not to say that the Green Wave can’t bring value to the table, however. Tulane is a sterling academic institution. Adding the university would give the Big 12 a team in Louisiana, which would be a first. That’s a market with promise, as L.S.U. can suggest.
Perhaps most importantly: Tulane can bring all of the non-football factors to the table and take a yearly beating from the rest of the Big 12. Contrast the Green Wave with Boise State, which has significant non-football issues but would greatly challenge the Big 12’s power structure. That scares Texas and Oklahoma, which in turn scares the Big 12.
Tulane’s not the worst fit for the Big 12. The worst fit would be, say, Idaho. Or Western Kentucky. Akron. Colorado School of Mines. Tulane would mesh better with the Big 12 than those teams. But if Tulane does become a member of the Big 12 — and I would eat my hat if it happened — it says one thing: the Big 12, even with a recent change in leadership, is taking the easy road.
And what else? That the Big East needs to add Army. The Cadets topped Tulane by 44-13 in 2008, 41-23 in 2010 and 45-6 last weekend. Or the Big East should add East Carolina, which is 7-1 against the Green Wave since 1999. Or Houston, which has averaged 38.9 points per game against Tulane over their eight meetings. Or Marshall, which has never lost to Tulane.
Scratch that: the Big 12 should add each of those teams before it adds Tulane. Here’s hoping that yes, the Green Wave are the fall-back plan to the fall-back plan to the fall-back plan to the…
You can also follow Paul Myerberg and Pre-Snap Read on Twitter.
Leave a Comment