Eternal optimists and lifelong Tulane fans like Richard Roussel never gave up on Green Wave football — and they were rewarded with the epic Goodyear Classic Cotton Bowl win in January.

Richard is a lifelong Tulane fan and eternal optimist. For reasons that baffle me, he graduated from LSU.

Back when Tulane was playing at the Superdome, Richard would survey the crowd and say something like, “I think there’s 30,000 people here tonight.” Later the PA announcer would say, “Tonight’s paid attendance: 15,101.”

Obviously, he was mega-excited when Tulane accepted a Cotton Bowl bid. As the game got closer, I called him to see how he was doing and when he was leaving for Dallas.

“Can’t go,” the raspy, sad voice said. “We’ve both got COVID, and we have to test negative twice before we’re cleared.” A couple days later they tested again. Still positive. Gloom and doom reigned in their household.

At this point Murphy’s law was in full effect. That law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong — and at the worst possible moment.” A corollary is: “Nothing is as easy as it looks.”

green and blue suitcases with Cotton Bowl and Tulane stickers

Then came their last shot at going. He called me: “We did it! We tested negative! Finally! We’re going!” I joined him in his happiness.

On Sunday morning he called a cab at 7 a.m. He called five times. No answer. They got notices from Southwest Airlines saying their flight had been delayed. Twelve hours later, their cab arrived at 7 p.m.

At the airport all flights were delayed several times. However, the airline’s seemingly quirky cancellations were not to blame. It was the fog!

The Roussels realized their flight to Houston would arrive too late to make the connection to Dallas. Discouraged, they cancelled and went home and unpacked two bags. Richard took a nap, which was no surprise, since he is a napaholic.

Later, after calling Southwest Airlines, an agent found them two seats. Once his wife tried to book them, they were already gone. So they looked online and found a flight that arrived in Houston at 8:50 p.m. and arrived in Dallas at 10:35 p.m.

They re-packed their bags and prepared to go to Armstrong International. There they boarded their flight — and sat on the runway for 15 minutes. They waited for a plane to leave that was designated for the Roussel plane to depart to Dallas.

Finally they arrived in Dallas, home of the Cotton Bowl, the Dallas Cowboys and cheerleaders, which is known sarcastically as “Jerry’s World” for the flamboyant owner of the Cowboys, Jerry Jones. Unfortunately, it was so late there were no cabs, Ubers, Lyfts or limos. Not even a bicycle for two or a rickshaw.

There was another passenger from New Orleans, Rob Worley, a graduate of Tulane Law School. He hailed an SUV. “We had no clue whether he was licensed or not,” Richard recalled. “But he got us to the hotel and he got paid.”

The Roussels’ story in 24 grueling hours had gone from “the biggest disappointment of my life” to “the greatest game I’ve ever seen!”

A 46-45 win over Southern Cal will do that to you!