TigerBlog will get right to the point to start your Monday: Princeton has already clinched at least a share of the Ivy League football championship.
Think about that.
Three years ago, Princeton was 1-9. Two years ago, Princeton was 1-9. Last year, Princeton was 5-5 after going 1-3 in its final four.
And now? Champion.
Princeton is 8-1 overall and 6-0 in the Ivy League as it prepares to head to Dartmouth for the final game of the season Saturday. A win would mean an outright championship and the first perfect Ivy season for the program since 1964.
The only other team still alive in the race is Harvard, which is at Yale Saturday. Should the Crimson win and Tigers lose, there would be a co-championship.
Still, that's a championship. The 2013 Princeton Tigers. Football champions.
It's been a meteoric rise in so many ways that it's easy to forget where the program was two years ago. For instance, here's a comment that was posted to this blog anonymously at the end of the 2011 season:
I think the whole coaching staff at Princeton should be dismissed, they
would be at virtually any other school. It was extremely difficult
watching this team over the last two years. The morale of the team must
be at an all time low. I understand several players quit during the two
year period and it must be most difficult to recruit any top players to
such a dismal program. Let's make a change asap and get moving in the
And this one:
Let Surace "rebuild the program"? I believe the season record for
Princeton the year before Surace arrived was 4-6, I would love to see a
4-6 season next year but under this staff it seems very doubtful. This
coaching staff does not appear to be rebuilding anything but have broken
our program and have driven it to the bottom of the Ivy League.
There were many more just like it. And, to be honest, there was some supportive of what Bob Surace and his staff were trying to do; they were just outweighed by the negative ones.
So what did Surace and his staff do?
Well, they recruited, recruited and recruited, until there was high quality depth everywhere.
And then they did the smartest thing they could have done - they got their best players on the field - even if that meant multiple quarterbacks - and built an imaginative offense that allowed it to happen. And so Kedric Bostic isn't just the third-string quarterback. Or, for that matter, Quinn Epperly wasn't just the backup quarterback.
And then they got buy-in from their guys, so that an army of running backs and wide receivers, for instance, didn't care that they weren't the one single main focus of the offense. It's a chicken and egg thing - do you get buy in because you're winning or are you winning because you got buy in?
Princeton is not only championship-good in 2013; it's also an incredibly fun team to watch.
With one game to play, Princeton has already set the record for the most points by an Ivy team in a season with 413, already 19 points past the record, with a full game to go.
Princeton played three home Ivy League games this year and scored 53, 53 and 59 points. Those numbers were 36, 29 and 31 at halftime and could have been way higher at the end had the games not been such blowouts.
Oh, TB almost forgot to mention something about Epperly's ridiculous season. How about this: With 23 passing touchdowns and 17 rushing touchdowns, he stands two away from the single-season record at Princeton for each.
Princeton's most recent game was a 59-23 win over Yale on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium. It wasn't so much a game as it was a giant block party, and the festive atmosphere was everywhere.
Students. Alums. Fans. Perfect weather. Points. Points. More points.
It was a celebration, a coronation of the championship that Princeton has now won.
It's the kind of school spirit that can only come with a winning football team, with apologies to every other sport, and it's why college football is such a big deal in this country.
At Princeton Saturday, it was easy to forget that it's been only two years from the second of those 1-9 seasons. Or, for that matter, that the team on the field was the one picked to finish fifth in the Ivy League this year.
Honestly, what Princeton wouldn't have settled for 7-3 or so, 5-2 in the league? What Princeton fan could have imagined this season would unfold the way it has?
As the final seconds ticked away, TB focused on Surace on the sideline. When it ended, the head coach pumped his fists, but that was about it.
He's a rock, Surace. When things were at their bottom, he didn't panic. He knew the turnaround was coming.
All season he has come into TB's office to hang out a few times a week, and there'd be no way to tell if he was winless or undefeated, if it was another 1-9 season or things were going well just by his demeanor.
He's never wavered from the task.
Fire the coach? No way.
Clearly he was the right guy the whole time.
And now he's shown what kind of coach his is.
A championship coach. Running a championship program.