NEW ORLEANS - If Tulane football coach Bob Toledo calls out the next person he hears referring to New Orleans as “The Big Easy,” it would hardly be a surprise.
Very little has been easy for Toledo since he took over the Green Wave program in 2007, and after the second of two straight lopsided losses last weekend, word even began to circulate that Toledo’s New Orleans home was for sale.
So when the coach met with reporters this week to talk about preparations for Saturday night’s home game against Syracuse, he took a moment to clear up a few things about his real estate ambitions.
“People are absolutely ridiculous,” Toledo said, pointing out that he put his house on the market in May because he and his wife decided that their current 4,400-square-foot residence is too big for just the two of them. “I lose two football games and all of a sudden my house is for sale.
“It makes me sick, to be perfectly honest with you. It’s amazing how cruel people can be,” Toledo continued. “I understand it being in my position. But I see these faceless, nameless people on the Internet that don’t give their name and then go out and rip you. I have no respect for any of them.”
Tulane (2-3) still has eight games left, so it’s early to speculate about Toledo’s job security. But this much is clear, the normally laid-back coach is fired up, which might be what the Green Wave needs after a pair of sloppy losses by scores of 48-27 to Duke and 45-6 to Army.
“I know that our team feels very bad about not performing to their capabilities week in and week out,” Toledo said, saying that he still believes his current roster is his best at Tulane. “To be on a roller-coaster ride is very frustrating. ... All that I can say is that we have a lot of football games left and when the season is over, we can evaluate what happened.”
While Syracuse (3-2) has posted a winning record through five games, the Orangemen also have become all too familiar with frustration lately.
Syracuse turned the ball over five times and had a couple failed field goal attempts in a 19-16 double-overtime loss to Rutgers last week.
“There are a lot of ups and downs unfortunately right now,” Syracuse coach Doug Marrone said. “We’re coming off of probably one of the worst games that we’ve had, and it hurts even more because there are plays that we left out there.”
While Syracuse will be going on the road this weekend, Marrone will be in familiar territory, having spent three seasons as offensive line coach with the New Orleans Saints under Sean Payton.
However, Marrone said he’d try to keep the socializing with old friends to a minimum.
“If I ask my players to treat every game like a business trip, and I go down there and I get outside of my schedule, then I’m not doing the right thing,” Marrone said.
The Orangemen are more than one-touchdown road favorites this weekend, but quarterback Ryan Nassib doesn’t want to take anything for granted against a desperate Green Wave squad.
“I know about their game last week. I know the motivation they’re going to have,” Nassib said. “We have to be ready to go against these guys.”
Nassib had his worst game of the season against Rutgers, going 15 of 32 and throwing three interceptions after having thrown just one and completing more than 70 percent of his passes in Syracuse’s first four games.
The season also has been a mixed bag for Tulane quarterback Ryan Griffin.
Three weeks ago at UAB, he was superb, completing 22 of 26 passes for 281 yards and three TDs. The last two weeks, he’s been a combined 24 of 48 for 262 yards, one TD and two interceptions. It hasn’t helped that top receiver Ryan Grant is out because of sports hernia surgery and that other receivers have been banged up as well.
“The passing game is all about timing,” Toledo said. “We’ve been struggling because some of our routes have not been run exactly like they’re supposed to be run. Our protection has broken down at times. (Griffin) has become a little frustrated. I think the combination of all of those things have affected his performance and our performance offensively.”