Willie Fritz walked into his introductory news conference Tuesday morning with a 193-74-1 career record.
He left with his 194th victory, easily winning the event held to introduce him as Tulane’s next head football coach.
Fritz said all the right things, beginning and ending his speech with “Roll Wave.”
Everything he said between went over well, too.
It wasn’t just what he said but how he said it, possessing all the poise and confidence you’d expect from a guy who’s been a head coach for 23 years and has won everywhere he’s been.
For Fritz, Tuesday’s victory was easy.
Introductory news conferences for head coaches usually are.
Winning over the Tulane faithful who came to show their support isn’t nearly as tough as trying to get wins over the likes of Memphis, Temple and Houston.
So now comes the hard part: transferring his Tuesday victory in the Glazer Family Club to wins at adjacent Yulman Stadium.
His résumé says he can get it done.
He has won six conference championships, including a Sun Belt Conference title in 2014 at Georgia Southern, his most recent stop. He has led teams to two bowls and won more than 72 percent of his games.
If that doesn’t give the Tulane fan base hope, something else buried deep on his résumé should.
Fritz once taught first-aid classes.
“I can perform CPR on a mannequin like nobody’s business,” he said.
And if there’s anything that needs a little life breathed into it, it’s the Tulane football program.
You’ve read the numbers.
Losing records in 11 of the last 13 seasons. Only five winning seasons in the past 34 years. Just this past season alone, Tulane lost seven of its last eight games and finished 3-9, causing the school to part ways with Curtis Johnson.
“This school is hungry for a winner,” Fritz said. “It’s one of the reasons I took the position.”
No, Tulane is starving.
Fritz could be the man to solve that.
He has resurrected programs before.
Blinn College, a junior college in Texas, had won just five games in three seasons before Fritz took over in 1993. They only lost five games over the next four years.
He’s had just two losing seasons in 23 years as a coach, and in both of those two seasons (2006 and 1997) his teams were barely under .500 at 5-6.
So if there was ever a proven winner, it’s Fritz, who has coaching running through his veins.
His father, the late Harry Fritz, was a head coach at Central Missouri. Willie Fritz followed his dad’s footsteps years later, serving as head coach there for 13 seasons before stops at Sam Houston State, Georgia Southern and now uptown New Orleans.
“I want to make this a destination job and I feel like you can do it here,” he said.
Tulane athletic director Troy Dannen, in just his second week on the job, believes it too. So does Archie Manning, who gave his stamp of approval in a meeting with Dannen in New York. Manning and Fritz had met before when Manning presented him with one of his two national coach of the year awards.
“There was affirmation every step of the way,” Dannen said. “When Archie affirms you, that’s pretty strong affirmation.”
Dannen also got a thumbs-up from Tulane baseball coach David Pierce, who worked with Fritz when they both coached at Sam Houston State.
Pierce has given Fritz advice for his transition to the Crescent City.
“When you’ve been in Huntsville, Texas, and Statesboro, Georgia, it could be a culture shock coming here,” Pierce said. “But the advice I took is that if you love the city, it will love you back.”
Especially if you win.
Fritz is plenty confident he can do that.
“I’ve coached in junior college, DII, I-AA, lined the field, washed the jocks. I’ve done it all,” Fritz said. “I’ve coached offense, defense and special teams. All of this has prepared me to be who I am standing in front of you right now. I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything.”
Fritz is a firm believer that someone like himself, with plenty of head coaching experience, is just what Tulane needs.
“If you are going to get someone to drive a very expensive car, you get someone who has a driver’s license,” he said. “I have one.”
The keys to the program were officially handed over to him Tuesday.
Just how far he can take the program is still unknown.
We’ll know a bit more on Sept. 3 when the Green Wave opens its season at Wake Forest and Fritz goes for his second win at Tulane.
He got his first one Tuesday.