RUSTON — Tulane bit the bullet for its team on the road this week. The Green Wave flew to Monroe on Wednesday instead of taking buses.
It took $60,000 to fly up Wednesday afternoon, and a bus trip would have cost $10,000, Athletic Director Rick Dickson said.
The reason was to save wear and tear on the players. “That’s our commitment to our team,’’ Dickson said.
In two weeks, the Wave will get the same commitment when Tulane again travels to play at Louisiana-Monroe.
Thursday’s game in Ruston came almost exactly eight years after Tulane was housed at Tech after being evacuated from the ravages of Hurricane Katrina. Dickson remembered bringing 130 athletes and 30 staff members from Dallas, their first refuge, to Tech, and re-enrolling the students until Tulane was operational again.
Tulane even hosted a football game at Tech, losing to Texas-El Paso 45-21.
The Green Wave and Bulldogs have played nine times through the decades, but until Thursday night the UTEP game was the only time Tulane played in Ruston. All the rest were played in New Orleans.
“I wouldn’t want to live through it again,’’ Dickson said, remembering the Katrina experience. “But I could write a book about satelite campuses.’’
Tulane was evacuated twice since, after Hurricanes Gustov and Isaac, both times to Birmingham, Ala.
Dickson said he and team physician Greg Stewart are the only staffers left at Tulane from the Tech experience of eight years ago.
Guests of honor
Four-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Terry Bradshaw, and the man who kept him on the bench in the late 1960s at Louisiana Tech, Phil Robertson, were recognized during the game.
Robertson is the patriarch of the “Duck Dynasty’’ family on cable television.
Robertson was the Tech starter, and Bradshaw a bench-warmer until Robertson quit the team for his outdoors life before his senior season.
Bradshaw is now a football commentator on Fox Sports. The game was the third carried on new carrier Fox Sports 1.
The son of the only other four-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback, Joe Montana, was also on the field. Nick Montana started for Tulane.
Passing in the night
This was the first Conference USA game between the Wave and newcomer Louisiana Tech, but will be the only C-USA contest between the schools. Tulane moves to the American Athletic Conference next season. There are no future games between Tulane and Tech scheduled.
Tulane evened its record at 5-5 in league road openers. Before Thursday the Green Wave’s last such victory came against Southern Methodist 31-10 in 2005.
Kicker Cairo Santos kept his streak of consecutive field goals alive with a 51-yard kick in the third quarter that put Tulane ahead 10-9. He now has 25 consecutive field goals going back to last season.
Santos is 4-for-4 this season after hitting 21 straight in 2012. The national record is 30 straight, held by Chuck Nelson of Washington in 1981-82. After booting a PAT after Tulane’s first touchdown, Santos kicked a PAT, then another in the third period giving him 34 straight extra points. He now has 59 straight successful kicks of all types.
Wave receiver Ryan Grant also continued his streak of 24 consecutive games with at least one reception. Among his four first quarter catches against Tech was a 24-yard grab from Nick Montana that put Tulane ahead 7-6.
Tulane is now 8-0 vs. Tech in a series that dates to the early 20th Century.
Thursday also marked the 159th time the Green Wave faced another Louisiana opponent. Tulane now has a 77-75-7 record against in-state rivals.
Signs were right
Tech’s sputtering offense was a sign the Bulldogs were in trouble. Dating to the 1998 season, Tech is 4-58 when scoring fewer than 21 points. Since then, the Bulldogs won the 2003 Independence Bowl against Northern Illinois 17-10, upset Michigan State 20-19 and beat Grambling 20-19 in 2010.
The Wave kept Tech out of the end zone, holding the Bulldogs to three Kyle Fischer field goals of 25, 22 and 37 yards.
The Tech defense was no slouch either. The Bulldogs threw the Green Wave for losses 10 times.
The connection between the family of Tech first-year coach Skip Holtz and Tech broadcaster Dave Nitz goes back decades. Nitz was the play-by-play announcer at William & Mary. During his time at Williamsburg, Va., Nitz called games when the Indians’ head coach was Lou Holtz, the father of Skip.
Nitz — now in his 39th year of calling Tech games, tied for seventh longest announcer tenure in the nation — recalled once a trip when he and Lou drove to Washington to see a Redskins game. Joining them was 7-year-old Skip.