Tulane's Fantastic Homecoming 2002
Tulane and a Fall Classic
Growing up in Ohio, I experienced the change of seasons that accompanied College Football in the fall. As the weather became cool, and the leaves began to fall, you knew it was time for college football. For me, that meant Woody Hayes and Ohio State, complete with the halftime celebration of the "dotting of the I". For those that don't know, a single person had the honor of running out, and dotting the I in OHIO, which the band had just spelled out in script. As an young boy, and an Ohio State fan, I dreamed of one day being that person.
So, what does that have to do with Tulane football? Until recently, nothing. New Orleans really doesn't have a fall season, Tulane doesn't have a marching band, and most kids in New Orleans don't dream of doing ANYTHING with Tulane. Saturday afternoon, everything changed.
Saturday, October 26,2002 will forever be remembered in Tulane Sports History. When I arrived at City Park at 10:30 Saturday morning, what to my surprise, did I see? Tulane Fans, and lots of them! Some in RV's, some in tents, some just standing in the street, sipping their favorite beverage. Others were preparing the barbecue pits and grills. The smell, what can I say about the smell. While the smell of "barbecue mixed with standing water" wasn't what I was hoping for, it was far better than the "carbon dioxide mixed with oil" smell of the Superdome parking lot. The day had hope, the day had a feeling of joy, the day was just beginning....
After arriving in "Tent City", where 40 tents had been set up, I started to look around. Tents had been purchased by companies, individuals, Tulane colleges, and the T-Club. My favorite was "Happy Birthday Jimmy". We happened to be very close to Jimmy and his family, and it was fantastic. Jimmy and his buddies decided to play football in the rain. Kids aged 9-13 (approx.), joyfully flopping around in the mud and water, having the time of their life. Memories being built of Tulane Football in the outdoors.
A short time later, some of the students in the Homecoming committee strolled by, and enjoyed some liquid refreshment. It's been over 15 years since I was a student at Tulane, and it was a lot of fun meeting some of the current students. Alumni/student interaction - something that has been missing for a long time...
12:15pm, and do you know where your Tulane football team is? That's right, headed to Gate D! Time to rush over to Gate D and greet them. Several hundred Tulane Fans, including the "Ugly Woman Winner" from the booster clubs, line up to see & greet the team. The first person I see, is J.P. , which is quite prophetic, since he was the one to lead the team to victory with 5 touchdown passes. One by one, the team strolls by, with the fans yelling and screaming. Mewelde Moore passes by, and even waves at the camera! What a great feeling it was, and J.P. even mentions it in the post game interviews.
Now that we are pumped, and the team is in the locker room getting ready, time to visit some fellow Tulane fans! Total strangers, with only a Tulane bond, meet and greet, and share their stories. My 2 children, ages 8 and 4, get their hair sprayed - one gets green, the other gets blue - GREEN AND BLUE!! Even they are excited!
Socializing done, even amongst the rain drops, it's time to head to the stadium. For 4 brief hours, Mother Nature holds back any additional rain drops. The stadium is packed, and people are yelling and cheering the whole time. How many times did I hear the Hullabaloo cheer?? Not enough, I say. Tulane wins - 51 to 30, and the partying is about to get serious.
The band plays, and the fans party. Sooner, or later, everyone realizes it's time to head home, but they just don't want to go. At the dome, it's simply head out to your car, and go home. Saturday, amongst newly made friends, parting was not so care free. I loaded up my car, and went home.
Today, in reflection, Saturday's game brought back memories of Fall Football in Ohio. While the weather certainly didn't cooperate, the feeling of a real college football game was there. Old and young, Tulane graduate and non-graduate, Tulane fans rich and poor - all there for the same purpose. Tulane Football OUTDOORS!
I want to thank Rick Dickson, and his entire krewe - including the folks at ISP Sports. It was a moment to remember. Maybe, one day, my son will tell the story of Tulane football in the Oaks, to his son. A father can only hope and dream.
I am not a professional writer, just a Tulane fan trying to express support for Tulane. Send comments to email@example.com.