The potential for dangerous weather associated with Tropical Storm Nate prompted Tulane to move the kickoff of Saturday’s game against Tulsa to 11 a.m. from 3 p.m.
As of Thursday afternoon, the National Hurricane Center forecasted a Sunday landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast anywhere from southeastern Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle. Nate, which passed over northeast Nicaragua and Honduras on Thursday, is expected to be either a tropical storm or a Category I hurricane with winds as high as 80 mph by the time it reaches the United States.
Tulane contacted American Athletic Conference officials about the possible change Wednesday evening. The three-way decision among Tulane, Tulsa and the conference to move the kickoff time became official Thursday morning.
Tulane athletic director Troy Dannen said they never considered postponing the game. The Green Wave, coming off an open date, has no more open dates for the rest of the year.
"Even moving to 11 was an abundance of caution," Dannen said. “It's supposed to make landfall on Sunday. This is a chance to get out in front of it."
The time change likely will keep the game off of television. ESPNU, which was going to air it, already is committed to Temple-East Carolina at 11 a.m., and ESPNews is showing a World Cup soccer qualifier between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Belgium.
Dannen said the AAC and ESPN were working to find a solution on Thursday. If they cannot come up with one, the game will be streamed live on ESPN3.
“TV was very secondary in the discussion,” Dannen said. “For the league and both schools, the last concern was whether there was going to be a television option or not. We knew we were going to have the streaming option at the very least.”
Tulane coach Willie Fritz said the late alteration had no effect on the Wave’s preparation. Thursday’s practice, the last one before the game, already had started before the announcement.
"It's no big deal,” he said. “If they had told us the night before, it might be a little hectic, but it's fine. I like the earlier starts. We're used to getting up early.”
The Wave will be prepared for any rain and wind that accompanies the storm’s approach.
“We got lucky that Monday it rained on us when we came out here (to practice at Yulman Stadium),” Fritz said. “We worked a little wet ball on Monday. The thing you need to do is run some plays that are safer. I don't think we can exaggerate ball security any more than we do, so you just have to be smart with your play-calling.”
Tulane has turned the ball over just twice this year, ranking in a three-way tie for third nationally.
“It's been good," Fritz said. "You're goal every game is to have zero. We've done a pretty good job and need to continue doing a good job with it. The kids have embraced (the philosophy). That's the only reason you have success. If they don't embrace it, it doesn't work.”
Tulane’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony at 5 p.m. Friday will not be affected. The list of honorees includes baseball coach Rick Jones, who guided Tulane to its only College World Series appearances in 2001 and 2005 and reached nine consecutive regionals from 1998-2006, the 1970 football team, which went 8-4 and beat Colorado in the Liberty Bowl, as well as former football standouts Michael Calamari (1961-63) and Dennis O’Sullivan (1995-98).
Fritz said senior defensive end Ade Aruna, who missed a start against Army for the first time since his sophomore season due to an injured ankle, will start against Tulsa. … Sophomore offensive tackle Tyler Johnson, who started at left tackle ahead of Keyshawn McLeod versus Army, practiced with the first unit again Thursday.