WAVING GOODBYE: JP says farewell to FTW
Thank you, and Roll Wave
Well, this is going to be a tough post, but after 12 seasons with FTW, I am going to be exiting. I knew before this season that I wanted it to be my last year — especially because I thought we had a good shot to pull off our first Top 25 win in my lifetime or maybe even compete for a conference title. True to form, I was overly optimistic and not remotely right about those predictions. I wish things had turned out differently this year, but I still had fun on one last ride with all of you. I thought for my last official post, I would look back at some moments that came to mind and talk through what’s next.
FLASHBACK: Our first post ever back in November of 2010 while I was still in undergrad, celebrating the bright future for Tulane Basketball.
Over those twelve seasons, I can’t thank you all enough for being part of this community. FTW covered a ton of life events for me, from graduating at Tulane to moving through three states for work. All during this time, FTW kept me connected to the Tulane fan base, and I am extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to do this.
To everyone who shared and interacted with our posts or said hey to us when we were at games or bought our T-Shirts or put FTW stickers on your car, I am incredibly grateful. It made this so much more fun knowing that there were other people who were down-to-the-bone crazy about this program.
FLASHBACK: When our April Fool’s joke that Tulane was building a wave pool got taken seriously, even getting traction with a couple sports radio shows who believed it was real. As you can see, the Photoshop was very well done.
In the beginning back in 2010, there was very little online activity on social media (even from official channels) around Tulane sports. The FTW community always felt like a place to connect, even when the seasons were tough, where most of us could find humor or have a good time even when there weren’t many wins to celebrate.
FLASHBACK: Tulane shortstop Stephen Alemais completes an insane behind the back double play en route to a win at LSU. You can watch the video of it on Vine, a service that doesn’t even exist anymore but that I really miss. This was one of my favorite Tulane plays during my entire time doing this.
I’d also like to thank the coaches and administrators who were generous with their time and appeared on our podcast, like Troy Dannen, Rick Jones, Ron Hunter, Will Hall, and others. Same goes for all of the 1998 Tulane Football team members who spent hours on the phone with me for our most ambitious project ever, which was our audio documentary chronicling what it’s like to have a perfect season at a football program starving for success. You can find it here if you have never heard it.
Last and most of all, I want to thank the other FTW contributors who were such a critical part of our team, including Kelly, Sam, and Janny (with the latter two regularly attending games in the press box as undergrads and doing amazing work). I don’t think I ever had as much fun as I did working with others who wanted to create an independent voice for Tulane fans. We never figured out any way to make money out of this, and we realized that early. So it allowed us to focus on how we could try and make FTW everything it could be as a passionate voice for our fan base.
FLASHBACK: Covering the opener of Yulman Stadium when Tulane faced Georgia Tech in front of a packed house.
And finally, as a closing comment, it’s easy to follow a team that is winning as a fan or blogger or whatever. It’s not like we have a ton of experience with that, but it’s definitely true when the times are good and we’re winning games that things are so much easier. One thing I appreciate so much about our Tulane fan base is that we’re all here because we want to be here, whether you are tailgating in the Newcomb Quad or traveling in for one game a year or listening to Graff on WRBH in the olden days from five states away. You do this because you love the school and the program, as there is no other logical reason you would “be in that number” as the old Tulane radio ads used to say.
FLASHBACK: Dannen let us hold the trophy after the Cure Bowl where Tulane won its first bowl game in 16 years.
Aside from passion for our school and what Tulane means to us, I think we’re united in our optimism that no matter how bad it gets, we know we’ll really appreciate the moments when it goes right. So looking forward, if there were two things I could wish for in the near term for Green Wave athletics:
(1) That Tulane can find a way to sustain success, especially in the football program. Now having done this for twelve years, it’s very clear to me how hard it is for the Green Wave to get noticed whether nationally or even locally in a crowded market for sports. It can be easy for folks to try and bash Tulane, and some of them do it.
Even so, if Tulane can find a way to sustain successful seasons (i.e. making bowl games and cracking into the top of the AAC), it feels like an absolutely critical step for us to move forward as a program. Tulane needs to find a way to prove that it can compete with the best on the field, just like it has done on the academic side.
Whether it’s UCF or Memphis or Houston in our league or schools like Coastal Carolina and UTSA outside of the AAC, we’ve consistently seen G5 teams leverage football to generate national noise around their program. Tulane has not had that type of moment since 1998, and we’re due.
FLASHBACK: AAC Media Days in Newport, RI kicking off with the lobster presentation.
(2) That Tulane can build inroads to fans in New Orleans, whether affiliated with Tulane or not. I think the first point is a huge part of the second point, but it’s crucial for the future of our program — given the national aspect of our alumni — that we do more to build our local fan base. Far and away, winning is the best thing we can do to contribute to that cause of helping to give folks a reason to head to Yulman or another Green Wave game. As Tulane finds more success on the field (which I think can still come), we’ll need to be ready to capitalize to better represent this university in our home market.
So now that I am off my soapbox, I will say one last thank you and that I will truly miss this. FTW has given me a lot personally, and I am going to miss interacting with a lot of you (looking at my AAC Blogger colleagues on this one, where we’ve done each other’s podcasts and hung out at media days for years). This is really, really tough to stop.
You may be wondering if this is the end of FTW? I don’t have details yet but we’re working through next steps to see how we can keep things going in some format. So please, I ask you to stay tuned and stick with us. I’ll have a couple closing things to do, like our last #AACBloggerPoll (and I’d also like to do a final podcast, so hopefully that happens).
So, for the last time as a member of FTW: Roll Wave. And never forget that Tulane has three SEC championships, which is more than Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Missouri, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, or Texas A&M.