Saturday, November 10, 2007

Get Bent Auburn! You Too Toledo!

I have come to report progress. Of a sort.

And not simply the riotous good news that greeted the Green Wave family this morning: Get bent Auburn! Don’t come to our house without your jock. The true Tulanian- having been beat about his head since birth by SEC outfits- revels in telling our overly resourced Division brethren to stuff it.

No, I report progress of a sort. Increasing, the ennui is disapating- and Toledo-nauts increasingly admit Coach is having a terrible season.

The Tulane program is, vis-à-vis our I-A peers, underfunded and underappreciated and handicapped. But, while many loathed Scelfo, wrung their hands at his name, Scelfo categorically proved for a decade, short of a gigantic hurricane, that it was possible to win 4-7 games every year, graduate a ton of players and run a program largely free from off-field embarrassment. That is not good- but it ain’t hopeless. Scelfo won, with a very similar roster, four I-A games last year- and would have gotten a fifth had he played a I-AA team instead of Auburn. That is not good- but it ain’t hopeless. You cannot, fairly, use any part of Scelfo’s win-loss record to excuse this pending Toledo directed one, two-win disaster.

The university can’t quit on Toledo. But fairly, Coach has to do better. Part of getting better is honestly assessing your progress. For instance, a new coach’s immediately job is to elevate the level with which the current talent plays.

So far- by any objective measure- Toledo has utterly and completely failed that first test. Period. You can excuse one win- but not defend one win.

But a measure of man’s character is how he reacts and improves. He could quit whinging to the papers about absolutely everything and take stock of his own work. His “idiot” predecessor cajoled four I-A wins from this mob, and four plus wins from many similar mobs: ask why? be curious.

Also fortunately, the bigger tests haven’t been given yet- particularly his own recruiting and program building efforts.

No one should think Tulane is hopeless. Again, it is absolutely possible for an "okay" coach to consistently win four-five games here even with the poor level of overall support. Frankly, we’ve seen it done for the better part of a decade now with two coaches: Scelfo and St. Tommy Bowden. The last ten years here have only produced one 2-win “hopeless” campaign- and that was Katrina.

We all want more than four, five, six wins- but the rational among us know that, with this level of university support, consistent Bowl seasons are not a lay-up. But even the most pessimistic can’t defend this product Toledo is generating. Only a true Toledo-naut can.

It is unfortunate. A coach only gets one first on-field impression. But Scelfo proved a poorly resourced, okay coach can produce non-disaster seasons. I’d like to see Toledo step up to that challenge before I laud him without evidence of real, tangible on-field progress.

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