NEW ORLEANS — Hugo Alvarez circled Sept. 19, 2015, in red and stamped it into his mind.

The University of Maine football team had a game with Tulane. Of course he would leave his home in Miami and come to this city for the game and the memories.

He spent four years at Maine, earning a double major in political science and public administration. He also played the offensive line for the Black Bears. Two years for Kirk Ferentz and two years for Jack Cosgrove. Then Alvarez entered Tulane’s law school.

“How many people can say they have two alma maters like Maine and Tulane? I loved Maine,” said Alvarez, who graduated in 1995. “My only regret is we didn’t win more football games. We had three losing seasons.”

He wondered how many other football fans with Maine connections would come to New Orleans for the game. “I hope it’s more than a few. New Orleans is my favorite city.”

Deb Howley is determined to make it to one Maine football game every season. Her son, Chris Howley, was a 2012 All-American at Maine, playing the offensive line. She won’t let her allegiance to Maine football waver.


“I’ll be the one (in the Maine section at Yulman Stadium) standing up and yelling “Give me an ‘M’ to start the Maine cheer,” said Cowley.

She has a voice that will be heard. Howley and her husband, Charles Cook, came to New Orleans with their friends, Cindy and Jack Williamson, whose son Garrett was Maine’s center three years ago. They all are from New Jersey.

“Chris was sold on Maine and Jack Cosgrove the first day he visited the campus,” said Cowley. “The university made him into a man. We’ll always support Maine.”

John and Kelly Hardy traveled from Portland for the game, meeting up with Karen and Ken Collins, the parents of Maine quarterback Dan Collins. The Hardys’ son, John, is a senior wide receiver. It was natural for the two sets of parents to bond.

“It’s a mini-vacation for us,” said John Hardy. “Our older son, Scott Brown, played baseball at (University of Rhode Island) and we tried to get to as many of his games as we could. It’s what you do as parents. You want to support Maine, too. This is like the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae.”

With Bourbon Street, the French Quarter, the Mississippi River that snakes through the city’s various districts, there is no other city like it in America. Not that the Maine players were able to get the New Orleans experience. The team hotel on Canal Street was four blocks from Bourbon Street but this was a one-night business trip. The team charter, which included a group of about 30 university administrators and the Friends of Maine Football donors who pay for all of the Black Bears’ charter flights, left Bangor on Friday morning.


The charter flight home departs Louis Armstrong International Airport immediately after the game. No free time outside the hotel or Yulman Stadium was included in the players’ schedule. “We’re going to New Orleans to play football, not see the sights,” said defensive end Trevor Bates before the team left Maine.

“I can do that another time.”

No one knew with any certainty how many Maine fans would be at the game, the first played by Maine and Tulane. The University of Maine does not have an alumni chapter in any of the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico.

The Maine alumni office lists about 800 graduates living in neighboring Texas but fewer than 100 in Louisiana. Alvarez, now a lawyer in Miami, asked those in his circle of Maine friends if they would join him and his wife at the game. To his disappointment they had other plans this weekend.

Alvarez understands that Maine is not Alabama, Ohio State or Notre Dame. Just as Tulane is not Louisiana State in nearby Baton Rouge. LSU, by the way, was at home Saturday afternoon playing SEC rival Auburn. Sunday, the New Orleans Saints play Tampa Bay in the Superdome. Saints fans were showing their colors as early as Friday on city streets.

Tulane was once a member of the dominant SEC with a winning team year after year.


But that glory was 50 to 80 years ago when Tulane Stadium could seat 80,000 fans, and hosted the Sugar Bowl and was the site of three of the first nine Super Bowls beginning in 1970.

The New Orleans Saints played their first seven seasons at Tulane until moving to the new Superdome for the 1975 season.

Shortly after, Tulane Stadium was condemned and torn down. The Green Wave also moved to the Superdome, returning to campus last year when the new Yulman Stadium and its 30,000 seats opened.

Tulane has a fan base that’s seen just one winning season in the past 11.

It now plays in the American Athletic Conference.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.