After losing its coach, No. 23 Tulane faces Virginia Tech in the Military Bowl

The chaos of December in college football — coaching changes, the transfer portal and bowl opt-outs — can make preparing for the postseason tricky.

That’s certainly true for No. 23 Tulane, which lost coach Willie Fritz to Houston. Even Virginia Tech, the Green Wave’s opponent in the Military Bowl, can’t be totally sure what to expect with Fritz gone.

“That’s a little bit of a scary piece of it — I think the unknown,” Hokies coach Brent Pry said. “As coaches, innately, you want to know everything you can — study, study, study. But in the end, it’s still about how we play and what we do.”

The Green Wave and Hokies meet Wednesday in Annapolis, Maryland. The game will take place at Navy’s home stadium, and although Tulane is in the same conference as the Midshipmen, the Green Wave haven’t played there since 2019. If anything, Virginia Tech (6-6) probably has more of a home advantage, given the closer proximity of the school.

Tulane beat Southern California in a thrilling Cotton Bowl last season, and hopes were understandably high in 2023. The Green Wave lost in September to a Mississippi team that is playing in a New Year’s Six bowl itself now, and then Tulane (11-2) won 10 straight before falling to SMU in the AAC title game.

So that left the Green Wave in a frustrating position. Tulane was good enough to be in the Top 25 — and to lose its coach to a Big 12 school — but wasn’t in the mix for another major bowl. The Green Wave have 23 victories since the start of last season. Only Georgia (27), Michigan (26) and Washington (24) have more.

After losing Fritz, Tulane hired Troy coach Jon Sumrall. It will fall to him to keep the program’s forward momentum going. He’s already talking about making the College Football Playoff — which isn’t as far fetched now that it’s expanding to 12 teams next year — but first the Green Wave must try to finish off this year on a positive note under Slade Nagle, the offensive coordinator who is filling in as their interim coach.

“They’re an 11-win team. I don’t know that you change a whole lot when you’ve had 11 wins,” Pry said. “The next-man-up mentality.”


Virginia Tech and Tulane haven’t met since 1989, when the Hokies won 30-13. Both teams were independents then.


It’s not unusual for stars to skip bowls these days, and Tulane is now left with Kai Horton and Justin Ibieta atop the depth chart at quarterback instead of Michael Pratt, the school’s career leader in passing.

Horton did start a couple games early in the season, including the matchup with Mississippi.


After losing to Florida Stateand Louisville by a combined 73-20, the Hokies get a shot at a ranked team again in this bowl.

“This is another opportunity like that, in my mind,” Pry said. “These guys have 11 wins. They played in a New Year’s Six last year. … This is an opportunity to go make a statement.”

If Virginia Tech loses, however, it would finish below .500, which would take some of the luster off the bowl bid.

“You don’t want to go into the offseason 6-7,” quarterback Kyron Drones said. “You want to go on a winning record.”


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