It’s back on the bus as Tulane football opens preseason practice Monday _lowres

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--Tulane football coach Curtis Johnson

Louisville’s departure for the Atlantic Coast Conference will have a huge impact on the competitive balance of the American Athletic Conference in its second year.

The Cardinals dominated the league Tulane is joining pretty much across the board in 2013-14, winning conference titles in baseball, basketball, women’s golf, men’s cross country, women’s swimming and women’s volleyball. They finished second in football, women’s basketball and women’s cross country. Louisville was a prime contender in all but men’s and women’s outdoor track and field and men’s and women’s tennis.

For Tulane and the rest of the league — Central Florida, Cincinnati, Connecticut, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, SMU, South Florida, Temple and Tulsa in 2014-15 — winning championships will be a more viable possibility without Louisville’s around.

The AAC sponsors championships in 13 of the 15 sports Tulane plays. The exceptions are on the women’s side, where the bowling and sand volleyball teams are on their own. The league also has women’s rowing, softball and men’s and women’s soccer, sports Tulane does not offer.

A sport-by-sport look at Tulane and the AAC:


Competing: All 11 teams

Tulane notables: The Green Wave ended a run of eight consecutive losing league records by going 5-3 in its final year in Conference USA. It was Tulane’s first winning conference record since the perfect season of 1998.

AAC notables: League champion Central Florida stunned Baylor 52-42 in the Fiesta Bowl as a 17-point underdog, giving the AAC a tremendous boost in its first year. The Knights won at overwhelming AAC favorite Louisville earlier in the year. Cincinnati (blown out by Florida in the 2010 Sugar Bowl) and Connecticut (routed by Oklahoma in the 2011 Fiesta Bowl) are the only other current AAC members to appear in BCS games.

Men’s basketball

Competing: All 11 teams

Tulane notables: The Green Wave ended a string of six losing conference records by going 8-8 in its final year of Conference USA play, but it lost by at least 18 points in all seven games it played against the top five teams in the league, which received just one NCAA tournament bid.

AAC notables: UConn has won two of the past four NCAA titles, including this past season. Perennial NCAA tournament teams Cincinnati and Memphis helped the league finish eighth in conference RPI. SMU reached the NIT final. The AAC should continue to thrive, even without Louisville.

Women’s basketball

Competing: All 11 teams

Tulane notables: The Wave finished with a winning conference record in its last six years of C-USA play and in 14 of 18 years overall. It won league titles in 1996-97 and 1998-99.

AAC notables: There is UConn, which has won two straight national championships and eight since the turn of the century, and then there is everyone else. No other 2014-15 AAC team played in the NCAA tournament this past season, although Temple made it eight years in a row from 2004-11.


Competing: Eight teams (everyone but SMU, Tulsa and Temple)

Tulane notables: After winning five C-USA tournament titles and four regular-season titles in the league’s first 10 years, the Wave won none of either in the last nine seasons. New coach David Pierce inherits a team that has missed the NCAA tournament for six consecutive years after reaching it in 12 of the previous 15 years.

AAC notables: Louisville played in the College World Series but, of the returning teams, only Houston reached the postseason in 2014. The Cougars beat LSU twice in a row to win the Baton Rouge regional before losing two straight to Texas in a super regional. It was the Cougars’ first NCAA bid since 2008. Tulane (2001, ’05) is the only AAC team to get to the College World Series since 1980.

Women’s volleyball

Competing: All 11 teams

Tulane notables: The Wave went 28-4 and advanced to the C-USA tournament championship game, losing a close match to UTSA. Tulane was 6-21 in 2012. Its only NCAA tournament berths came in 2008 and ’09.

AAC notables: The league is not strong. Louisville raced through with a perfect 18-0 conference record before getting swept by Marquette in the first round of the NCAA tournament. No returning team or newcomer reached the postseason.

Women’s golf

Competing: 9 (everyone but Connecticut and Temple)

Tulane notables: The Green Wave won the C-USA tournament and advanced to the NCAA championships for the second consecutive year, finishing 15th after placing a program-best ninth in 2013. The entire lineup is set to return.

AAC notables: Central Florida and SMU made NCAA regional play but did not advance to the national championships. Houston’s program, entering its second year, will compete for the conference title for the first time.

Women’s tennis

Competing: All 11 teams

Tulane notables: The Green Wave was 5-20 this spring, its first losing season this century. Tulane has not qualified for the NCAA championships since Hurricane Katrina.

AAC notables: The league has two defending champions — South Florida (AAC) and Tulsa (C-USA) — as well as a third team, Houston, that played in the NCAA championships. All three lost in the first round.

Men’s tennis

Competing: 9 (everyone but Cincinnati and Houston)

Tulane notables: The Wave finished 66th in the final ITA rankings, losing to Tulsa in the C-USA championship match. This was the first year since Katrina that Tulane won a match in the C-USA tourney.

AAC notables: Tulsa, AAC champion South Florida and Memphis advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament. South Florida’s Roberto Cid upset the No. 1 seed in the NCAA individuals championship en route to the quarterfinals.

Women’s track and field

Competing: All 11 teams

Tulane notables: The Wave finished in a tie for sixth at the C-USA indoor championships and ninth at the outdoor championships. Redshirt freshman Daliadiz Ortiz won the outdoor javelin competition.

AAC notables: SMU swept the indoor and outdoor titles. East Carolina swept the same titles in C-USA. Neither team was a national factor.

Men’s track and field

Competing: 9 (everyone but SMU and Central Florida)

Tulane notables: The Wave finished last at the C-USA outdoor championships and had no one in the indoor meet.

AAC notables: Connecticut won the indoor title, while Houston claimed the outdoor crown for coach Leroy Burrell, a former 100-meter world-record holder.

Women’s cross country

Competing: All 11 teams

Tulane notables: The Green Wave was 11th out of 15 teams at the C-USA championships and 19th out of 20 teams in the South Central Regional championship, with no runner finishing among the top 50 in either event. Tulane, which boasted the C-USA athlete of the decade for cross country (Hanne Lyngstad) after its first 10 years in that league, has not been competitive since Katrina.

AAC notables: League winner SMU competed at the NCAA championships after finishing second in the South Central Regional championship. Tulsa tied for the C-USA title but did not qualify for the NCAA championships.

Men’s cross country

Competing: 9 (everyone but SMU and Central Florida)

Tulane notables: The Wave was last out of 13 teams at the C-USA championships and 20th out of 21 teams at the South Central Regional championship. The story is the same for the women; Tulane has not been competitive since Solomon Kandie was named C-USA athlete of the decade in 2004.

AAC notables: Tulsa appeared in the NCAA championships for the first time in school history after winning C-USA for the fourth consecutive year. No returning team is particularly strong. Louisville destroyed the field at the league championships, with Cincinnati a distant second.

Women’s swimming

Competing: 6 (everyone but Memphis, South Florida, Temple, Tulsa and Central Florida)

Tulane notables: The Wave had its best season since winning the C-USA championship in 2005, finishing sixth at the league meet. Freshman Ellie Sills set a school record in the 200-meter butterfly.

AAC notables: League runner-up SMU was 20th at the NCAA championships, with freshman Marne Erasmus placing third in the 200 butterfly. No other returning team was in the top 40.