In one of the gloomiest days in recent college football memory, Troy Dannen, if he looks hard enough, can find the glass at least fractionally full. In these dark pandemic times, he’ll accept even a small trace of liquid lining the bottom of the cup.

As Tulane’s athletic director, he oversees one of the rare Group of Five programs to not have scheduled this season what’s termed as a “buy game” against a Power 5 school, where in which big brother writes a hefty check to little brother for what’s usually a beatdown. As college football moves closer and closer toward a season in which non-conference games won’t exist, Dannen, unlike many of his colleagues, is in the clear.

“Fortunately, we didn’t schedule one this year, so we’re not relying on it to balance our budget,” he says, and then reality sets in, “but we are relying on football games.”