Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What's Up, Doc?

Bugs Bunny got his big break when Elmer Fudd selected him for his vaudeville show over a bunch of other struggling out-of-work cartoon characters. At first, Bugs was the straight man, answering Elmer's riddles with I-don't-knows before Elmer delivered the punchline. Finally, one day Bugs turned the tables on Elmer, squirting him in the face with seltzer water, and the rest of course is history.

As this week marks the 71st anniversary of the first appearance by Bugs Bunny in a cartoon, TigerBloog offers this riddle:

"What has Princeton Athletics done 16 times that every other Ivy League school has combined to do four times?"

We'll get to the answer shortly. First, here's a hint: It has to do with winning Ivy League championships.

The Ivy title that the women's tennis team won this past weekend was the eighth by a Princeton team this academic year, along with men's and women's cross country, field hockey, men's and women's squash, women's soccer and men's swimming and diving.

It was also the 367th Ivy title in school history, dating to 1956. Princeton teams have won the most all-time, followed by 340 for Harvard and then a big drop to Cornell's 187. In this decade, Princeton teams have won 104, followed by Harvard with 65 and Cornell with 55.

The all-time record is 14 Ivy titles in one academic year, which Princeton has done twice (1999-2000, 2000-01) and Harvard has done once (2004-05). Princeton won its first four Ivy League titles in the 1956-57 year, and it's clear that one of the biggest reasons that Princeton has built its huge lead in Ivy titles is the success of its women's teams.

To answer the riddle, Princeton teams have won at least 10 Ivy League titles in an academic year on 16 separate occasions, while the rest of the league combined has done it four times (in the interest of full disclosure, Harvard has done it all four times).

To get to 10 this academic year, Princeton obviously needs two more. There are still 10 Ivy championships to be determined, though Princeton doesn't have a legitimate (or in some cases mathematical) shot at all 10. Still, teams like men's lightweight crew, women's golf, men's and women's outdoor track and field and baseball are in varying degrees of shape to win their championship. Men's lacrosse can still get a share, with some help from Brown this weekend against Cornell and wins over Dartmouth and Brown.

TigerBlog looks at the list of all-time Ivy League championships by school and realizes how lucky Princeton is to have these numbers. TB also realizes it's easy to take it for granted that Princeton will always have this kind of success, but the reality is that a great deal of hard work beginning with the coaching staff and going across the entire department goes into making it happen.

It never gets old watching teams win Ivy League championships. Actually, it's like watching Bugs Bunny. TigerBlog could watch "Racketeer Rabbit" every day.

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