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Henry's Highlights
Thursday, November 20, 2003

By Henry Hinton
Broadcaster & Owner of Greenville Cable 7

Year of adversity persists for Tulane


Cable 7: Replay Midweek Tailgate with Henry Hinton, Steve Logan & guest Chris Scelfo...  Select clip...

Tulane football coach Chris Scelfo has had an interesting year to say the least. From March, when there was a chance the university would actually drop football, right up to this weekend’s meeting with East Carolina in the Superdome, Scelfo has endured a most unusual set of circumstances.

Talk about distractions. Chris Scelfo does not want to hear any other college coaches compare their off the field issues with his. There is no comparison.

Last spring, the national media started reporting that Tulane was considering dropping its football program. Now that’s good for team morale. Even better for recruiting.

“It came out of nowhere,” said Scelfo. “It was a situation where the program was being evaluated. We’ve come out of it a lot stronger because of the support we were able to generate through that ordeal. Our fans have responded well. It created a lot of doubt for our players, coaches and families and it set us back a bit.”

After crossing that hurdle by having the alumni base step up and buy an unprecedented number of season tickets, the university administration seemed to go 180 degrees by becoming the leader of all non-BCS schools in a quest for post-season equality.

Months ago, Tulane President Scott Cowan fired a warning shot across the BCS bow by threatening legal action unless the system was changed to become more inclusive of leagues like Conference USA. Cowan has testified before Congressional committees and is leading the charge for all programs on the outside looking in.

“I think Dr. Cowan has done a good job creating an equal opportunity for everybody,” Scelfo said.

Oh, yeah, then Scelfo had to actually start the football season.

After a 3-1 start, including a win over Southeastern Conference foe Mississippi State, the Tulane head coach had to watch as his team became decimated by injuries that have sidelined 28 different players, including Quarterback J.P. Losman and All C-USA running back Mewelde Moore.

That started a stretch of five straight losses. Entering this weekend’s game with the Pirates the Green Wave has lost six of their last seven.

“I thought we were in good shape coming into the season, but it’s really been unfortunate for us this year,” said Scelfo. “Each week we seem to lose some more kids, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Now, we’re starting a bunch of freshmen in key positions and that’s tough. We’re just trying to piece-meal it together right now.”

Losman is expected to start against ECU on Saturday but Moore, who broke his hand four weeks ago, is out for the season. That is no small loss. Moore is just the second player in the history of Division I-A football to rush for more than 4,000 yards and catch passes for more than 2,000 yards. He is C-USA's all-time leading rusher with 4,364 yards.

Moore will be recognized in a special ceremony that will take place at halftime of Saturday’s game.

While Scelfo refuses to blame the cement-like carpet in the Superdome, where the Green Wave plays its home games, there is no doubt it has been a contributor to the injury problems this year.

There is some good news on that front. Saturday’s Tulane-ECU game will be the first college game played on a brand new Astro-play surface that was installed in the famed New Orleans dome two weeks ago. The NFL Saints inaugurated the softer grass-like surface last Sunday.

Scelfo has never beaten ECU since taking over the Tulane job five years ago and he says that makes this game a huge one for him personally.

“East Carolina is very talented. Why they are 1-9 is beyond me when I cut the tape on and watch them they play hard," he says. "They had a tough schedule early in the year. It’s going to be two teams who scratch and claw and play as hard as they can.”

What will decide it?

Scelfo thinks the winner will cover the basics. Nothing fancy.

“It looks like a game that will be decided by who executes the best and which team will be able to stop the run”, he said. “It’s a big game for us.”

Big for both teams. East Carolina is another team that has not had things go according to pre-season plans.

But don’t cry on Chris Scelfo’s shoulder. With all he has endured in 2003, he doesn’t want to hear it.

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02/23/2007 10:12:10 AM

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