Tulane football made headlines when the school announced that it had taken the bold step of extending the contract of head coach Willie Fritz through 2023. Fritz led the Green Wave to a 9-15 record in his first two seasons in New Orleans.
Though Fritz’s team finished with losing records in consecutive seasons for the first time in his 23 years of coaching, Tulane football made great strides under his direction.
Highlighting the 2017 season were wins over a 10-win Army team and AAC powerhouse Houston. Tulane fell to Navy by two points and SMU by three, as quarterback Jonathan Banks was ruled an inch shy of the goal line as time expired, ending the Wave’s bowl bid.
The Green Wave’s three conference wins in 2017 matched the total of those in 2015 and 2016, the school’s first two seasons in the AAC. Tulane finished last season with its second-best record since 2004, winning five games, enough to barely fall shy of only a third bowl appearance in 17 years. For perspective, the Green Wave lost by at least 24 points in ten different conference games in 2014-2016; in 2017 the team dropped five games against conference foes by a total of 12 points.
The success on the field continued in recruiting, as Tulane nabbed 13 three-star players. Rivals.com rated its class of 25 signees fourth in the AAC and 65th in the nation, rankings that set a new post-Katrina high. Those recruits will join a team with 15 returning starters.
Before arriving in New Orleans, Fritz coached in three separate leagues and won two national titles on the junior college level and two conference championships. His teams have earned 21 winning seasons in 23 years, prevailing in 69% of their games.
Known for building programs, Fritz has won everywhere he’s coached; however, he has never had the opportunity to coach in a Power-5 conference. A coach with his resume is one to pique interest in Power-5 schools with a vacancy and preference for a fresh face. Such a position should interest Fritz, 58, for it may be his last opportunity to coach on the highest level.
Therefore, the decision to extend his contract comes as no surprise and reaffirms that the Tulane athletic department has acquired the right coach and wishes to secure him. Hope abounds on St.Charles Ave.
Willie Fritz seems committed as well: “I couldn’t be more excited with the direction in which our football program is headed,” he said in a statement. “It is an absolute joy to coach at this institution. We have total buy-in from everyone on our staff to our administration, and I know we have a bright future.”
Photos from Tulane Green Wave Football's Official Facebook Page