Tulane celebrates football season with parade

Mark Keplinger, Staff Writer

Following Tulane University’s historic football season which included a 12-2 record, a conference championship and a victory in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, the school held a celebration for the team last Sunday.

Under a light drizzle on the Berger Family Lawn, merchandise tents distributed various free memorabilia and sold food. Fans had the opportunity to take pictures with the American Athletic Conference championship trophy and the Goodyear tire statue of the Angry Green Wave.

The main event started when the football team entered in a Mardi Gras-style parade on floats donated from Mardi Gras World. Players and coaches threw beads to the fans while the cheer team, the Shockwave dance team and marching band led the procession. 

From there, athletic director Troy Dannen, President Mike Fitts, three of the four team captains — Michael Pratt, Sincere Haynesworth and Nick Anderson — and head coach Willie Fritz addressed the crowd. Videos played on a nearby screen showing highlights from the season.

At the end of Fritz’s speech, he did his trademark “win surf” with his team — a final celebration for an historic season.

Notable absences from the celebrations included captain Dorian Williams and star running back Tyjae Spears. School administrators and video highlights avoided mention of Tulane students storming the field at Yulman Stadium in jubilation following the AAC championship game, although Anderson did mention the event as one of the best moments of his season.

Two former Tulane football players, Roland Szubinski and Coleman Dupre, were present at the celebration and reminisced on the season. 

“We graduated in 1974, and there were a whole bunch of us, and there wasn’t a dry eye in that whole section when they called that touchdown good,” Dupre said about the Cotton Bowl.

 “And then we made the extra point, the tears were flowing down everybody … It was just a moment that I certainly won’t ever, ever, ever forget.” 

Both players were on the 1973 team that defeated the LSU Tigers in the final game ever at Tulane Stadium — Szubinski playing nose guard and Dupre, a wide receiver and kick returner. When comparing the LSU game and the Cotton Bowl, Szubinski joked that the game against LSU was bigger, “because I was participating.”

He continued, “But it felt I mean, emotionally, it was the same … USC had a better team. [The] Tulane team, those players did not quit. Now, when we played LSU, I mean, if you look at it, LSU was probably … favored. They were the better team, but I mean all along. We outplayed them though.” The Green Wave defeated the Tigers 14-0 in 1973.

In comparison to the 1973 team, Dupre noted that the 2022 team “[had] better athletes.” Dupre observed that modern defensive lineman have similar speed to the running backs of his day.

Dupre claims to have the longest kickoff return in Tulane’s history — 108 yards against North Carolina — although he claims there is another reason why it is the longest return. “It’s the longest return in Tulane history, only because you got to really listen on the long pitch because it took me 10 minutes, 30 seconds to go from one end zone to the other, and a referee with a all-white beard beat me to the other end.”

The Cotton Bowl celebration marks the end of this historic season. Nine Tulane players have entered their name into the 2023 NFL Draft, but the rest of the team and coaching staff are already preparing for the 2023 collegiate season. 

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