While new Tulane football coach Willie Fritz will not be introduced in New Orleans until 11 a.m. Tuesday, he spoke to the Savannah (Ga.) Morning News on Friday night and explained why he was attracted to the Green Wave.
“It’s the opportunity to do something that’s never been done there before,” Fritz told the Morning News. “Our goal is going to be to bring a consistent winner to Tulane. (Athletic director Troy) Dannen knows it’s going to be quite a chore, and he felt like I was the right guy for the job.”
Fritz, 55, went 17-7 in two years at Georgia Southern, leading the Eagles to the Sun Belt Conference championship in 2014. Georgia Southern was not eligible for a bowl game last season as a transitional member of the FBS, and athletic director Tom Kleinlein said at a news conference Friday he likely would not allow Fritz to coach in the GoDaddy Bowl on Dec. 23 in Mobile, Alabama.
Though some in Statesboro, Georgia, expressed surprise Fritz took the Tulane job, the difference in exposure and money between the two schools is extreme. Georgia Southern plays in a league that rarely gets its games on national TV. Tulane is entering its third year in the American Athletic Conference, which has virtually every game on national TV and dwarfs the Sun Belt in television revenue.
The Sun Belt package with ESPN guarantees a minimum of two games for the entire league all year on ESPN or ESPN2 and at least five games on ESPNU. Tulane alone had 10 games televised nationally on ESPNU, ESPNews or CBS Sports Network this season.
The details of Fritz’s contract have not been released. He earned $500,000 annually at Georgia Southern and will at least double that amount and maybe triple it at Tulane.
Dannen said at his introductory news conference Dec. 4 that he could have made a competitive offer to Scott Frost, the former Oregon offensive coordinator who recently signed a contract to coach Central Florida for a base salary of $1.7 million according to the Orlando Sentinel.
“They (Tulane) contacted me early in the week and asked me if I’d be interested in the position, and they wanted me to visit,” Fritz said in his interview with the Morning News. “I told them I would. In this stage of my career, I don’t know how many more years I’m going to be doing this. It was just a really good opportunity, too good of an opportunity to pass up.”
Fritz has been a fast starter at each of his coaching stops. He went 39-5-1 at Blinn College from 1993-96 after the junior college program had gone 5-24-1 in the three years before he got there. He went 8-3 in his second year at Division II Central Missouri, giving the school its most wins in a season since 1970.
Fritz guided Sam Houston State to a 14-1 record and the FCS championship game in 2011, his second year there.
He went undefeated in the Sun Belt in his first year at Georgia Southern. The Eagles were picked to finish no higher than seventh.
His next challenge is Tulane, which has been to four bowl games in the past 35 years, with six winning records in that span.
“It was a tough decision,” Fritz told the Morning News. “My wife and I have really enjoyed Statesboro, and everyone’s treated us extremely well. I’m proud of the legacy we leave here. I don’t think anybody would’ve imagined what we accomplished these two seasons. I’m very proud of that.”