Tulane kicks off New Orleans Bowl week

As the Tulane Green Wave arrived at their team hotel Monday afternoon, a local brass band got the party started for this week's New Orleans Bowl against the Ragin' Cajuns of Louisiana-Lafayette.

"Love it, love it," Tulane Coach Curtis Johnson said. "I just love the music, they were playing my song. Everything is going right for us, but this is a fabulous time for us. I just welcome everybody and thanks for having us here."

11 years in the making, the Wave are ready to enjoy a rare bowl week, on the heels of their turnaround 7-5 season. Tulane's last bowl game came back in 2002.

"It's a blessing to have this opportunity to play in December," senior running back Orleans Darkwa said. "To play in New Orleans and play in the Superdome one more time."

Senior defensive end Julius Warmsley added, "Different opportunities, the change of mindset, the evolution of the football team as we've been going through the season, and the two years we've been with Coach CJ. It's been great. It's exciting, and everyone is just ready, ready to play football and just continue with everything."

When asked what he was doing at this time last year, Darkwa said, preparing to watch some bowl games and just play some video games. What a long way the Tulane football program has come. But the players said today, they're not just happy making a post-season bowl appearance, they're in it to win it come Saturday night.

"I think it comes for the seniors to emphasize to the young guys that we can have fun when the time presents itself, but at the same time, we're here to hold that trophy up, and that's the main purpose, main goal for this team," Darkwa said.

Johnson added, "Oh, it means everything for the seniors. There's only a couple times you can go out a winner. They have an opportunity to be in a bowl game for the first time, go out as a winner for the first time, so we're looking forward to playing, and I know they are."

The R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl kicks off Saturday night at 8:00 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.