Maybe the next time Tulane builds an on-campus stadium, the Green Wave won’t open it against a double-digit favorite who’s made 17 straight bowl appearances.
But other than the fact Tulane wound up on the wrong side of the score against a superior opponent (Georgia Tech, by the way, wasn’t supposed to be the one in the first home game), it was a grand and glorious opening for Yulman Stadium on Saturday.
For the first time in 40 years, Tulane felt like any other college campus on gameday. People were tailgating or just enjoying walking to the stadium.
And inside, if there’s such a thing as a new stadium smell — peanuts, popcorn, hot dogs, red beans and rice — it was definitely present.
The noise level, particularly from the student section, was unlike anything heard during Wave games in the Superdome in years.
Even the band sounded better.
Yeah, it was hot — 90 degrees at kickoff — and humid.
Forty years of 72 degrees for every home game (and much colder when the Saints were at home the next day) will spoil you.
But the main thing was that folks enjoyed themselves — and they said they’re coming back.
Like many longtime locals, Donald Haws of Gretna attended at old Tulane Stadium when he was a youngster.
But Saturday was his first time at a Wave game in nine years.
“Very impressive,” Haws said. “It gave Tulane a home-field advantage.
“I was curious what it was going to be like here today, and other than it being hot, it was fantastic. This could be the beginning of something new for Tulane.”
Jack Hakim, a 2011 graduate and second-year law student, figured he’d been to one Tulane football game in the Superdome.
But on Saturday, he and most of the others that filled the student section were still around in the fourth quarter — even though the issue had been settled.
“There was no reason to go to the Dome,” he said. “But look at this — we’re losing by 17 points and the whole student section’s still basically full. Smart students who want the college football experience are going to want to come here.”
One thing noticeable Saturdays: kids wearing Tulane gear.
Christopher Adams, 13, and his sister, Mia, 7, were there with their parents, Chris and Lorri Adams of New Orleans, and the whole family was in Olive & Blue.
“It was awesome,” Christopher said. “It’s cool to have a new stadium.”
It is cool.
And next Saturday, the Wave will host Southeastern Louisiana, the team it was supposed to open Yulman against before construction delays forced a change.
The Lions, ranked No. 3 nationally in the FCS, will be a tough out. At least kickoff is at 7 p.m.
Will all of the fans present on this Saturday show up?
Probably not, for a variety of reasons.
But it won’t be because they hated the experience.