Friday, February 1, 2013

No McCareins? No Problem For Jim Harbaugh

TigerBlog isn't too into XLVII nearly as much as he was into XLVI, back a year ago, when good once again triumphed over evil.

This time around, TB isn't even sure whether he'll be rooting for the Ravens or 49ers.

On the one hand, John Harbaugh seems like the much nicer of the two brothers. Jim, in fact, was quite surly when he was going 0-2 against Princeton as the head coach of the University of San Diego, fewer than 10 years ago.

The first time, Princeton went to San Diego, back in 2004, and the Tigers won the game 24-17, aided considerably by defensive touchdowns by James Williams and Jay McCareins on consecutive San Diego snaps in the second quarter. Imagine the contortions of Harbaughs' face after that sequence.

Here's the first paragraph of the game story from after the 2005 game in Princeton Stadium:
All things considered, the University of San Diego will probably be content to never see Jay McCareins again. The senior defensive back, who returned an interception 36 yards for a touchdown in Princeton's 24-17 win last season in San Diego, intercepted three passes, including the potential go-ahead throw, and returned one 99 yards for another touchdown in the Tigers' 20-17 win over San Diego Saturday at Princeton Stadium. 

If memory serves, then John Harbaugh, then a Philadelphia Eagles assistant coach, was on the sideline with his brother for that game.

In addition to having John come off as the nicer Harbaugh - though Jim is okay in those commercials with the guy who gives the world's worst pep talk - there's Randy Moss, who is nowhere near Jerry Rice as the greatest wide receiver of all time. And maybe Moss could have been closer, had he not been such a problem child that he was shuttled from team to team.

Then again, there's the whole Ray Lewis thing.

Lewis, as you might have heard, is playing in his final game with Sunday's Super Bowl. You also might have heard that he had some involvement in a double homicide more than a decade ago, that he has six children with four different women, that he does a dance before every game and that he seems to like the spotlight. And something about deer antlers.

On the other hand, by all accounts, Lewis has also committed himself - away from the cameras - to making a real, positive difference in the lives of so many of the less fortunate and apparently has become a model citizen and community leader in recent years.

So can TB root for Lewis to go out on top? Can he root for Jim Harbaugh? Is he too much of an East Coast guy?

Next year's Super Bowl will be played at MetLife Stadium and will become the first outdoor Super Bowl in a Northern winter (or Northeastern winter at least). For those who are wondering, it'll be 35 degrees for a high here Sunday, with the low (which is probably closer to what it'll be at game time) of 22. Make up your own mind if this is a good idea or bad idea. Joe Flacco thinks it's a bad idea.
Oh, and there was a time when the commercials during the Super Bowl were super creative. In recent years, they've simply been trying to hard, and very few hit a home run (the only one TB remembers from last year was the dog and the Doritos, which he uses to bribe his owner after the dog buries the family cat).

Let's just say it's a long way from Apple's 1984 commercial.
Between now and kickoff, there are 31 Princeton athletic events. That's right. Thirty-one.

H-Y-P swimming and diving, for instance, is on the menu Friday through Sunday at DeNunzio Pool. It's a big meet for mid-year bragging rights, though there doesn't appear to be much in the way of direct correlation between the winner of the event and how they'll do at the Ivy League championships later in the season.

Who else is competing?

Men's tennis, women's tennis, wrestling, women's track and field, both squash teams, both fencing teams.

The squash matches, as TB said yesterday, will go a long way to determining the Ivy League champion for men and women.

Then there is hockey and basketball.

The men's hockey team was on a nice roll when exam break started, with 10 consecutive SRO crowds at Baker Rink and a second-place standing in the ECAC.

Now the Tigers are in fifth and heading out to consecutive weekends on the road, with the first stop at the Yale Whale to take on the eighth-ranked Bulldogs, who currently stand second in the league. Tomorrow night will see the Tigers at Brown, and then there is a trip to Colgate and Cornell next weekend.

That schedule, of course, means the women are at the opposite site, which means home games this weekend and next.

Back at the men, Princeton is four points back of Yale for second - and three points out of ninth.

Goal No. 1 is to get a first-round bye in the ECAC playoffs and home ice in the second round, the prize to the top four in the regular season. Among the teams directly behind Princeton? Brown (11 points), Cornell (10 points) and Colgate (10 points).

In other words, these are big games the next two weekends.

Princeton plays Cornell tonight and Columbia tomorrow night in basketball, with the women on the road and the men at home.

Both teams are 1-0 in the league after having handled Penn in their openers three weeks ago.

Tonight's women's game is a matchup of the only two undefeated teams in the league, for that matter. Cornell swept travel-partner Columbia (last week in double overtime) and gets its shot at the three-time defending champion Tigers are home.

As for the men, Princeton has its first five games at home (Brown and Yale next weekend), and 5-0 would be a great boost on the way to Dartmouth and then the first showdown of the year with Harvard, on Feb. 16, in Cambridge.

Princeton cannot win the Ivy title tonight. Nor can it lose it. But with no conference tournament (the way TB likes it), every single game is important for a team hoping to win a championship.

If Princeton plays the next two weeks with its eye on Harvard, it's almost surely going to get knocked off before it ever gets to Massachusetts.

And that's your Princeton Athletics weekend. Thirty-one events and then the Super Bowl.

TB will probably root for the Ravens.

He also sees a 49ers victory, one lacking any real drama at the end, say in the 38-24 range.

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