Year-By-Year Summaries (1970s)
Billboards and bumper stickers plastered all over New Orleans proclaimed 1970 as the "Year of the Green." Tulane's football team backed up the claim, earning a bid to the Liberty Bowl where they defeated Colorado. Coach Jim Pittman's final Tulane team compiled an 8-4 mark, the most wins for the Green Wave since 1948 and only the second winning season for the program in 14 years.
Seniors Rick Kingrea, Mike Walker and David Abercrombie captained the 1970 team. The defense returned 10 starters from 1969 and Paul Ellis, Joe Bullard and David Hebert formed a secondary that picked off a school-record 28 passes on what was to be one of the Green Wave's all-time great defensive units.
Offensively, Abercrombie set a school record with 246 yards rushing against North Carolina State on his way to 993 yards rushing. Through the air, quarterback Mike Walker and receiver Steve Barrios connected on some big plays, as Walker set a season record for yards per completion and Barrios set a season record for yards per catch.
After a 7-4 regular season, the Green Wave received its first bowl invite since the 1939 Sugar Bowl. Tulane was given little chance in the Liberty Bowl against a Colorado team averaging over 400 yards of total offense per game, but the Green Wave defense limited the Buffaloes to 175 yards. The final score of 17-3 sounded closer than it really was. The week after the game, Jim Pittman accepted an offer to coach TCU.
FINAL RANKING: 17th AP
Ranking Date Opponent Location Tul/Opp Score Result Attendance S12 at Texas Tech Lubbock, Texas 14-21 L 43,250 S19 Georgia New Orleans, La. NR/19 17-14 W 30,294 S26 at Illinois Champaign, Ill. 23-9 W 27,864 O3 at Cincinnati Cincinnati, Ohio 6-3 W 11,324 O10 at Air Force Colorado Spr., Colo. NR/8 3-24 L 31,508 O17 North Corolina New Orleans, La. 24-17 W 23,900 O24 at Georgia Tech Atlanta, Ga. 6-20 L 32,129 O31 at Vanderbilt Nashville, Tenn. 10-7 W 19,000 N7 Miami (Fla.) New Orleans, La. 31-16 W 23,250 N21 North Carolina State New Orleans, La. 31-0 W 19,542 N28 LSU New Orleans, La. NR/7 14-26 L 81,233 LIBERTY BOWL D12 Colorado Memphis, Tenn. 17-3 W 44,640
Former Tulane quarterback Bennie Ellender returned to his alma mater as head coach after leading Arkansas State to a college division national championship in 1970. Excitement ran high entering 1971, but the results, unfortunately, did not match those expectations as Tulane lost its last five games to finish 3-8. Texas Tech was TU's first victim as sophomore defensive end Mike Truax blocked a fourth-quarter punt to spark a come-from-behind victory. The Green Wave dropped its next three games, then rallied to beat North Carolina and Pittsburgh to even the season record before going into a five-game slide.
Senior wide receiver Steve Barrios missed the first four games, but his return against North Carolina gave the Wave a boost as he caught touchdown passes of 56 and 42 yards. The next weekend, Barrios became the first Tulane receiver to gain 1,000 career yards as he caught three passes for 76 yards in a 33-8 win over Pitt.
Running back Ricky Hebert rushed for 819 yards, highlighted by a 124-yard performance against LSU. Tulane had two 100-yard returns that fall on an interception by David Hebert against Rice and a kickoff by Coleman Dupre against North Carolina.
Ranking Date Opponent Location Tul/Opp Score Result Attendance S11 Texas Tech New Orleans, La. 15-9 W 21,378 S18 at Georgia Athens, Ga. NR/11 7-17 L 51,542 S25 at Rice Houston, Texas 11-14 L 25,000 O2 William & Mary New Orleans, La. 3-14 L 17,392 O9 at North Carolina Chapel Hill, N.C. NR/18 37-29 W 39,500 O16 Pittsburgh New Orleans, La. 33-8 W 17,650 O23 Georgia Tech New Orleans, La. 16-24 L 50,248 O30 Vanderbilt New Orleans, La. 9-13 L 17,941 N6 Ohio New Orleans, La. 7-30 L 9,922 N13 at Notre Dame South Bend, Ind. NR/8 7-21 L 59,075 N27 at LSU Baton Rouge, La. NR/10 7-36 L 59,897
Relentless defense and the emergence of sophomore quarterback Steve Foley put Coach Bennie Ellender's second Tulane team back in the win column in 1972, and the 6-5 record could have been a lot better.
One of those "losses" came when Miami was inadvertently awarded a fifth down with barely over a minute left in the game, which they used to score the winning touchdown. Another loss came in the season finale when the Tulane fullback was stopped a foot short of the winning TD as time expired.
Defensive back George Ewing accomplished more in 1972 than most players do in a whole career. In spite of losing two games to injury, Ewing scored five return TDs, scoring on three punts and two interceptions.
The Green Wave's 1972 defense was one of the best in school history as six opponents scored fewer than 10 points. Glenn Harder, Mike Mullen, Harold Asher and Rusty Chambers gave Tulane one of its deepest linebacking corps ever, while sensational sophomore Charles Hall provided a dominating presence up front. Defensive end Randy Lee and safety David Lee provided Tulane with one of the most effective brother combinations in its history.
Ranking Date Opponent Location Tul/Opp Score Result Attendance S16 at Boston College Boston, Mass. 10-0 W 27,411 S23 Georgia New Orleans, La. NR/16 24-13 W 43,084 S30 at Michigan Ann Arbor, Mich. 18/8 7-41 L 84,162 O7 Pittsburgh New Orleans, La. 38-6 W 20,417 O14 at Miami (Fla.) Miami, Fla. 21-24 L 18,956 O21 at West Virginia Morgantown, W.Va. 19-31 L 29,500 O28 at Georgia Tech Atlanta, Ga. 7-21 L 48,096 N4 Kentucky New Orleans, La. 18-7 W 18,377 N11 Ohio New Orleans, La. 44-6 W 17,535 N18 at Vanderbilt Nashville, Tenn. 21-7 W 10,532 D4 LSU NEW ORLEANS NR/11 3-9 L 85,372
Coach Bennie Ellender fielded his most successful football team in 1973, as quarterback Steve Foley and All-America defensive tackle Charles Hall led the way to a 9-2 regular season and an invitation to the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston.
The Green Wave won its first six games for the school's best start since 1934, but the highlight of the year was the season finale with LSU. In that game, the Green Wave beat the Tigers for the first time since 1948, taking a 14-0 win before a beyond-capacity crowd of 86,598 in Tulane Stadium.
Foley led the 1973 team in both passing and rushing and was named MVP at season's end. He ran for two TDs in the season opener with Boston College, broke a 72-yard TD run to start off a rout over VMI, threw the winning TD pass with nine seconds left against Duke and scampered for 181 yards (the most ever by a Tulane QB) against Vanderbilt to clinch the bowl bid.
Hall and sophomore middle guard Mark Olivari created havoc in the middle of the defensive line and junior linebacker Rusty Chambers made 153 tackles as five opponents were held to six points or less. The defense shut out VMI, North Carolina and LSU. It was a year to remember, as only the 1931 and 1934 teams had won more games in one season. In the bowl game against Houston, an explosive Cougar squad romped 47-7 in the Astrodome.
FINAL RANKING: 20th AP/15th UPI
Ranking Date Opponent Location Tul/Opp Score Result Attendance S22 Boston College New Orleans, La. 21-16 W 33,880 S29 VMI New Orleans, La. 42-0 W 25,037 O6 at Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, Pa. 24-6 W 25,054 O13 at Duke Durham, N.C. 18/NR 24-17 W 20,500 O20 North Carolina New Orleans, La. 17/NR 16-0 W 38,502 O27 Georgia Tech New Orleans, La. 15/NR 23-14 W 66,826 N3 at Kentucky Lexington, Ky. 14/NR 7-34 L 49,360 N10 Navy New Orleans, La. 17-15 W 40,135 N17 Vanderbilt New Orleans, La. 24-3 W 31,199 N24 at Maryland College Park, Md. 17/NR 9-42 L 19,416 D1 LSU New Orleans, La. NR/8 14-0 W 86,598 ASTRO-BLUEBONNET BOWL D29 at Houston Houston, Texas 17/14 7-47 L 44,358
1974 (5-6) Head Coach: Bennie Ellender
With senior quarterback Steve Foley continuing his inspired play from the season before, Coach Bennie Ellender's fourth Tulane team roared to a 5-0 start. The fifth win was by 30-3 over The Citadel, as Foley ran for 142 of the team's 340 rushing yards. At this point, Ellender had coached Tulane to 17 wins in its last 20 regular season games.
Game six was a regionally-televised game against Georgia Tech in Atlanta, and Foley appeared to be driving Tulane toward a go-ahead score early in the second half when he broke his foot on a goal-line scramble. Tulane did not win another game that season and ended up 5-6, a dramatic indication of the value a healthy Steve Foley brought to the Green Wave football program.
On a cold, damp Nov. 30 afternoon the Green Wave played its last game ever in Tulane Stadium, dropping a 26-10 decision to Ole Miss.
Ranking Date Opponent Location Tul/Opp Score Result Attendance S14 UL-Lafayette New Orleans, La. 17-16 W 29,878 S21 at Army West Point, N.Y. 31-14 W 30,279 S28 West Virginia New Orleans, La. 17-14 W 31,647 O12 at Air Force Colorado Spr., Colo. 10-3 W 26,244 O19 The Citadel New Orleans, La. 20/NR 30-3 W 41,399 O26 at Georgia Tech Atlanta, Ga. 18/NR 7-27 L 48,623 N2 Kentucky New Orleans,La. 7-30 L 38,384 N9 at Boston College Boston, Mass. 3-27 L 17,002 N16 at Vanderbilt Nashville, Tenn. 22-30 L 22,400 N23 at LSU Baton Rouge, La. 22-24 L 66,017 N30 Ole Miss New Orleans, La. 10-26 L 44,208
Coach Bennie Ellender's last Tulane team got off to another strong start, but this time a late season losing streak cost him his job. Despite losing starting quarterback Terry Looney to a season-ending knee injury the week before the opener, Tulane defeated Ole Miss 14-3 in the first college game played in the Louisiana Superdome. Senior Buddy Gilbert took over the quarterback job and delivered, establishing season records for passes completed and passing yards. His favorite target was senior Jaime Garza, who led Tulane in receiving for the third straight season.
After a 4-2 start, the Green Wave lost five in a row to finish 4-7. The squad remained competitive during that streak, losing a one-point decision to Air Force and a two-point decision to North Carolina on a last-second field goal. The season ended unpleasantly, however, as LSU topped the Green Wave 42-6.
Ranking Date Opponent Location Tul/Opp Score Result Attendance S13 at Clemson Clemson, S.C. 17-13 W 45,100 S20 Ole Miss New Orleans, La. 14-3 W 50,000 S27 Syracuse New Orleans, La. 13-31 L 33,200 O4 Vanderbilt New Orleans, La. 3-6 L 30,100 O11 at Boston College Boston, Mass. 17-7 W 11,775 O18 at West Virginia Morgantown, W.Va. 16-14 W 33,842 O25 Georgia Tech New Orleans, La. 0-23 L 63,333 N1 at Kentucky Lexington, Ky. 10-23 L 56,500 N8 Air Force New Orleans, La. 12-13 L 31,790 N15 North Carolina New Orleans, La. 15-17 L 29,850 N22 LSU New Orleans, La. 6-42 L 70,850
Coach Larry Smith took over the Tulane helm for the 1976 season, and things got worse before they got better. The unquestioned bright spot in a 2-9 season was the presence of freshman quarterback Roch Hontas. Hontas completed 61-of-114 pass attempts for 697 yards as a part-time starter that fall, the first of four seasons that he would lead Tulane in passing. His favorite target was junior Zack Mitchell, the first tight end to ever lead Tulane in receiving.
In addition to Hontas, Smith brought another all-time great to the Tulane campus in 1976 in the person of Canadian Ed Murray, who went on to break just about every Green Wave place-kicking record.
The Green Wave wins were over Vanderbilt and Army, the latter victory featuring a 96-yard interception return by Arthur Green.
Ranking Date Opponent Location Tul/Opp Score Result Attendance S11 Cincinnati New Orleans, La. 14-21 L 29,134 S18 at Ole Miss Oxford, Miss. NR/20 7-34 L 33,231 S25 Boston College New Orleans, La. NR/18 3-27 L 20,235 O2 at Vanderbilt Nashville, Tenn. 24-13 W 21,000 O9 at Syracuse Syracuse, N.Y. 0-3 L 11,223 O16 Army New Orleans, La. 23-10 W 25,327 O23 at Georgia Tech Atlanta, Ga. 16-28 L 31,214 O30 Memphis New Orleans, La. 7-14 L 25,879 N6 West Virginia New Orleans, La. 28-32 L 29,327 N13 Rutgers New Orleans, La. 20-29 L 28,872 N20 at LSU Baton Rouge, La. 7-17 L 64,318
Sophomore Roch Hontas was the bright spot in a 3-8 season as he completed a school record 63.4 percent of his pass attempts, including 33-of-42 passes for 373 yards versus SMU in one of the top passing performances in Green Wave history up to that time. Coach Larry Smith added a key building block when he brought in running back Marvin Christian, who would lead Tulane in rushing the next three seasons. Christian showed promise of things to come with a 142-yard rushing performance against Stanford.
The Green Wave was a bit more competitive than the season before as it lost four games by four points or less. Hontas and Christian owed much of their offensive success to an improved offensive line, led by senior offensive tackle Eric Laakso, who went on to a fine NFL career with the Miami Dolphins.
Ranking Date Opponent Location Tul/Opp Score Result Attendance S10 at Memphis Memphis, Tenn. 9-27 L 26,792 S17 Stanford New Orleans, La. 17-21 L 30,482 S24 at SMU Dallas, Texas 23-28 L 18,460 O1 Vanderbilt New Orleans, La. 36-7 W 21,483 O8 at Boston College Boston, Mass. 28-30 L 18,577 O15 Cincinnati New Orleans, La. 16-13 W 22,546 O22 Georgia Tech New Orleans, La. 14-38 L 28,345 O29 at Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, Pa. NR/13 0-48 L 46,273 N5 at Miami (Fla.) Miami, Fla. 13-10 W 20,140 N12 at Rutgers Piscataway, N.J. 8-47 L 16,500 N19 LSU New Orleans, La. 17-20 L 72,025
Coach Larry Smith's third Tulane team came on strong at the end of the season to augur the bright future to come. After dropping its first four games, the 1978 squad finished 4-3 to gain momentum toward what would be an outstanding 1979 campaign.
Junior quarterback Roch Hontas had another fine season as he became the first Tulane passer to complete more than 100 passes in a season twice. Against Memphis, Hontas delivered an 80-yard TD bomb to Darrell Griffin, then the longest pass in Tulane history. Marvin Christian had an outstanding season, gaining 879 yards, one of the top marks in school history at the time. Junior Ed Murray kicked a 54-yard field goal against Memphis, tying the school record. On defense, Frank Robinson and Marty Wetzel each had more than 100 tackles.
Ranking Date Opponent Location Tul/Opp Score Result Attendance S9 at Maryland College Park, Md. 7-31 L 31,458 S16 Pittsburgh New Orleans, La. NR/14 6-24 L 32,658 S23 at Georgia Tech Atlanta, Ga. 17-27 L 25,205 S30 at Stanford Palo Alto, Calif. NR/20 14-17 L 40,111 O7 at Vanderbilt Nashville, Tenn. 38-3 W 27,600 O14 Boston College New Orleans, La. 9-3 W 27,177 O21 TCU New Orleans, La. 7-13 L 22,748 O28 Memphis New Orleans, La. 41-24 W 19,127 N4 Miami (Fla.) New Orleans, La. 20-16 W 20,045 N11 at Ole Miss Oxford, Miss. 3-13 L 28,580 N25 at LSU Baton Rouge, La. 21-40 L 75,876
The 1979 squad won as many games as Coach Larry Smith's first three teams combined and finished the regular season 9-2 to earn an invitation to play Penn State in the Liberty Bowl.
The offensive leader was senior quarterback Roch Hontas, who completed 215-of-367 pass attempts for 2,345 yards and 21 TDs to set single-season records.
His favorite targets were wide receiver Alton Alexis and tight end Rodney Holman, who set a season receiving record with 47 catches each. Marvin Christian led Tulane in rushing for the third consecutive season. Kicker Ed Murray was perfect on 35 extra point attempts and set a season record for kicking points, as he was named to the All-South Independent team for the fourth straight season.
Late in the year, the team went on one of the greatest tears in modern Tulane history, outscoring Boston College, Ole Miss and LSU by a combined score of 116-36. In the Liberty Bowl against Penn State, the Nittany Lions won a battle of field goals, 9-6. Following the season, Smith accepted the head coaching position at the University of Arizona.
Ranking Date Opponent Location Tul/Opp Score Result Attendance S8 Stanford New Orleans, La. NR/13 33-10 W 44,326 S15 at Rice Houston, Texas 17-21 L 20,000 S22 at TCU Fort Worth, Texas 33-19 W 15,203 S29 SMU New Orleans, La. NR/19 24-17 W 42,563 O6 Vanderbilt New Orleans, La. 42-14 W 27,873 O13 at Southern Miss Hattiesburg, Miss. 20-19 W 30,028 O20 at West Virginia Morgantown, W.Va. 17-27 L 28,303 O27 Georgia Tech New Orleans, La. 12-7 W 51,963 N3 at Boston College Boston, Mass. 43-8 W 12,236 N10 Ole Miss New Orleans, La. 49-15 W 45,647 N17 LSU New Orleans, La. 20/NR 24-13 W 73,496 LIBERTY BOWL D22 Penn State Memphis, Tenn. 15/NR 6-9 L 50,021