The title character in Pat Conroy's "The Great Santini" called everyone "Sports Fans," regardless of whether it was one person or multiple people.
As for TigerBlog, he remembers three actual people who have had the same knack for assigning a universal nickname to basically everyone they saw. The first was a woman who worked in the dining hall in West Philadelphia who called every student "Dearheart." Not "Dear" or "Sweetheart," but "Dearheart." The second is the teacher from the after-school program where Little Miss TigerBlog goes, who greets every parent by calling them "Sunshine."
The third is Roger Hughes, who was relieved of his duties as Princeton football coach Sunday after 10 seasons. Hughes calls everyone "Tiger," and TB can remember hundreds of times that Hughes has stopped by and said something like "what's up, Tiger?" or "nice day, Tiger" or anything else along those lines. When injuries would permeate his lineup, he'd offer "how'd you like to play for us this weekend, Tiger?"
And it wasn't just to TigerBlog. It was to basically anyone, male or female. TigerBlog always wondered if he had done that his whole life or if he started using "Tiger" as his universal nickname after he came to Princeton 10 years ago.
Hughes is an interesting man, the holder of a Ph.D. who became a college football coach. TigerBlog was a kid when Dick Colman coached at Princeton, but from TB hears, perhaps Hughes is the same kind of professorial coach that Colman was, though in a much different era.
TigerBlog recently wrote a story about the 1964 Princeton team for the game program, and Cosmo Iacavazzi described Colman, his coach at Princeton, this way: "He was a very intellectual man. If you met him and he said he worked at Princeton, you'd probably think he was a professor of humanities. He may have seemed out of place on the football field from a macho stereotype, but he had a great football mind."
How much of that describes Hughes? To those who've never met him and whose only context is what they see and hear, Roger Hughes is one of the nicest people around. He is a quality person who treated the Princeton football program like an extended family, who built great relationships all over the campus and who is never lacking for a smile or a kind, supportive word.
He was supportive of Princeton's overall athletic program, always in a behind-the-scenes way. In many ways, he bought into completely what Princeton athletics is all about, broad-based participation where football does not drive the whole department and athletics as an extension of education.
At the same time, he chose to enter a profession where it's so easy to be defined in one way: your record. Going back to Colman, he may have looked like a humanities professor, but when you look in the record book, he was also 75-33 and is now in the College Football Hall of Fame.
Hughes went 47-52 in 10 years. For those wondering why he coached 99 games, it's because the 2001 game against Lafayette was canceled after 9/11.
For Hughes, the bright spots on his resume are a 16-4 run in 2005 and 2006 that included a 9-1 record and Ivy title in ’06. The 2006 wins over Penn and Yale are among the best for Princeton football in the last 40 years; the nine wins that season are the most since Colman's ’64 team went 9-0.
On the other hand, he did have only three winning seasons in 10 years, with one .500 record and six losing seasons. The last three years were all 4-6.
In the end, Roger Hughes is one of five coaches in Princeton football history to coach for at least 10 years. Of the eight coaches who have been at Princeton since the formation of the Ivy League, he is one of four who has won at least one Ivy title (okay, that's a little unfair to Charlie Caldwell, whose last year of a Hall-of-Fame career was 1956, the first year of the formal Ivy League, when Princeton finished second). He's also the coach who went 31-48 when Jeff Terrell wasn't the starting quarterback.
In decades to come, when TigerBlog thinks back about Rogers Hughes, he won't remember Pete Carril's aura, Bill Carmody's sharpness, John Thompson's charisma, Joe Scott's ferocity, Bill Tierney's intensity, Steve Tosches' organization.
No, he'll remember Roger as a good man who chose to enter a tough business, a man of the highest character and integrity who ultimately was what his record said he was.