A year from now, Sam Scofield should be well on his way to wealth in the financial world.
And Dante Butler is likely to be making his mark as a sports broadcaster.
But if they had their druthers, they’d rather be finishing their Tulane football careers then — and in a bowl game — instead of Saturday’s finale against Temple at Yulman Stadium.
“I’d love to have that year back,” said Butler, a running back whose redshirt year was burned by then-coach Bob Toledo using him almost entirely on special teams. “The longer you’re in a program, the better person you are on and off the field and the more relationships you build.
“That’s something you can’t replace.”
Added Scofield, a safety who with Butler was part of the 2011 recruiting class, “I wanted to redshirt, but we had a lot of injuries, and I wound up starting.
“It’s bittersweet to be playing my last game now though, and we’re not going to a bowl game. I wish it meant more, and I know it would be next year.”
That Butler and Scofield, who, along with 22 others will be recognized on Senior Night before the game, are not anxious to end their careers with the Green Wave even though they will be graduating next spring, represents a change in attitude about the program.
For years, it seemed too many signees came for their education first and football second.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, and, Tulane being Tulane, academics are going to be important. Scofield, in fact, is a two-time Academic All-American.
But it was still a significant factor in Tulane having only five winning seasons in the past 30 years and just 11 since the school left the Southeastern Conference almost a half-century ago in 1966.
All too often, players stuck around, doing just enough not to get run off but also making few contributions while taking up scholarships.
“My first year, we had some guys just going though the motions,” Scofield, who prepped at St. Thomas More in Lafayette said of the 2011 season that saw Toledo resign after seven games and the team finish 2-11. “It was a tough situation.
“But since CJ (current Wave coach Curtis Johnson) has been here, you don’t much of that.”
It obviously hasn’t been easy.
While last year’s 7-6 season that included the school’s first bowl appearance in 11 years was certainly uplifting, it was in large part due to good fortune on the field against a forgiving schedule.
So, it’s been no surprise that this year, the Wave’s first in the American Athletic Conference, has seen a drop.
Tulane is 3-8 and 2-5 in the AAC which is exactly where most preseason predictions had them.
Except to the players.
“The first year under CJ was rough (2-10), but last season everything came together, so we felt confident going into this one,” Scofield said. “But then we lost the opener at Tulsa (38-30 in double overtime), and we realized it could be tough.
“I think if we’d beaten Tulsa we would have won at least one more game, and we’d be the ones playing to get bowl eligible right now.”
Butler, who prepped at Brother Martin, especially likes the emphasis on local recruiting, one that actually started under Toledo.
“Before I got here, I think they had only 10 or 11 guys from Louisiana (There were actually more, but the point is valid), and I think they put us out there to showcase that,” he said. “But when CJ came in, they lightened up some of the admission rules and we’ve got more guys who are here to play football first and their education along with it.”
“It was important to me to play in my hometown and to represent it. That’s what I see now, too.”
Getting back on campus for the first time in 40 years has been another positive effect, especially for the players who appreciate the increased crowds.
“You’d look around in the Superdome, and it didn’t seem like anybody was there,” Butler said. “It felt really good to know the students were behind us.”
To Johnson, there’s debt owed to the seniors who stuck it out through the debacle of Toledo’s final season and the trials of his first.
“These guys went through a lot of adversity, and then last year they helped us get to a bowl game,” he said. “They also welcomed the young guys; they tutored and monitored them.
“That’s why the practices we’ve had this week were like ones we’d have if we were playing for the national championship. I think we’re going to be able to look back in a few years and say these seniors were the foundation that turned his program around.”