Big Game For The Big Easy: Special Coverage|
Sept. 16, 2005
Even so, Polian is nowhere he expected be. Without him, Tulane's season might not be at all.
Polian, the son of Indianapolis Colts' GM Bill Polian, knows what makes a team tick and how to keep it in running order. When Tulane evacuated
"It's been hectic," Polian said. "It's been nonstop and it's been a blur, to be honest with you. I couldn't tell you what I did four days ago."
Three weeks ago, he was on the phone with Superdome officials. Tulane had decided to evacuate, but had left the option to practice on Sunday morning before its departure open. As Katrina swung closer, the team decided not to practice just as Polian was notified that the Superdome had been shut down by the government to shelter
Did he realize then what was in store for his team, that this hurricane might uproot their lives entirely?
Not a chance. "We were planning to be away from home through our home opener," Polian said. "For a week at the most, really."
Still, Polian is not one to dwell on what could have happened. He focuses on what needs to be done. This week he was rarely seen without a green notebook in hand, with countless details of the Green Wave's salvaged season recorded in his meticulous handwriting. He is cheerfully determined, a reflection of head coach Chris Scelfo's intention to motivate his student-athletes with his own resilient example.
How, then, do you rebuild a football program from scratch? When Tulane evacuated New Orleans the Green Wave brought enough supplies for a week - practice gear for a stay in Jackson, Miss, away jerseys for their scheduled season opener at Southern Miss. Players had only the basics - workout gear and one or two changes of clothes. Not to mention the hundreds of other little materials that make a Division I football program run - scouting tapes of opposing teams, playbooks, their entire athletic complex that has now taken on water.
After the team escaped from
Under the deal struck with other universities, Tulane players would be able to enroll anywhere and take classes toward their degrees. Once the Tulane football season was given the go ahead, Polian worked with the players, coach Scelfo and their host, Louisiana Tech, to get as many students a class schedule that minimized the disruption in their academic lives.
Class scheduling is only one of the countless elements Polian has dealt with since the team was in a position to think about the future. On the Green Wave's second day at practice in
Polian's workload has not been easy - with a support staff of close to 50 people cut down to two equipment managers, two trainers, Polian and the team's 13 coaches, everyone has triple-duty.
"Our head coach unloaded the truck with me in
Louisiana Tech pitched in whatever space it could provide in the assembly center for Tulane's offices, meeting rooms and locker rooms. Polian shows the meeting rooms, divided into position areas by quickly thrown up foam core board and marked with a paper sign taped to the makeshift wall. He opens the locker room, a large meeting room with rows of chairs that serve as "lockers," the taped signs here serving as locker numbers. He manages to explain without discouragement that the twenty-some staff is working with only seven phone lines, and he is still foraging for a printer and fax machine for the football office. It's another challenge for Polian to record and tackle, another reason his cell phone keeps ringing.
In some ways, Polian's job has the same focus it did back in
It's a tough job, but Polian is just the man to do it.
Jessica Garrison is an Assistant Editor for CSTV.com and will be on assignment in
As Tulane's Director of Football Operations, Dennis Polian has had his hands full over the past month