Wednesday, July 8, 2020

RIP Cap

TigerBlog wonders sometimes how many people he's worked with in all of his time at Princeton.

He's not counting athletes here or even people from the other side of campus. In fact, when he first started at Princeton, the Office of Athletic Communications wasn't even a part of the athletic department.

Nope, the OAC was part of University communications and reported directly to the University Vice President for Communications.

It wasn't until 1995 or so that the OAC first moved actually into the athletic department. TB isn't counting the people he worked with tangentially in University communications though.

So anyway, this is the kind of stuff he thinks about.

There is an actual number, though he's not sure how he'd actually calculate it exactly. The short answer is "a lot." Heck, there have been nearly 40 in the OAC alone.

The overall number has to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,200 or so, he'd guess. How much turnover is there every year? How many years? That's a lot of people.

That's a lot of coaches. That's a lot support staff.

That's a lot of kids right out of college who were there for a year or maybe two and then went on their ways. Some have stayed in coaching or college athletic administration. Many have not.

Some of those people will remain among TB's best friends forever. It's sort of the same as what the athletes experience, where four years together leads to a lifetime of friendship.

TB hasn't sat on his Princeton rocking chair much. To him, it's more a symbol than an actual piece of furniture.

It represents, as he said when he first got it, all of his years at Princeton. All of the experiences. And, more than anything else, the people.

More than all the games, the chair represents all of the different people he's worked with at Princeton.

As he said, some of them are his his friends for life. Others are people he liked a great deal when he worked with them, and then they moved on to their next phases.

There are a handful who, for various reasons, just stand out, all these years later.

One of those people passed away last week.

Cap Crossland was a big piece of the fabric of Princeton Athletics when TB arrived, and for many years before that. He died last week at the age of 82.

Cap worked in the equipment room, alongside the legendary Hank Towns, the head equipment manager, and two other legends, Gary Mosley and Furman Witherspoon.

Cap was a gentle man, a quiet man, a funny man, a caring man, a dedicated man. He smiled and laughed easily and often, spoke softly, helped whenever he could and generally made Princeton Athletics a better place to be each day.

TB wrote a story about Hank and Cap a long time ago, and he can't find it anywhere. It's probably in an old football game program, but he can't remember the year.

He remembers that Cap grew up in Mercer County and went to Trenton High School, where he was the first black quarterback in program history. Either he or Hank - TB actually thinks both - went to Grambling and played for Eddie Robinson.

TB can't remember what Cap did before he started in the equipment room. He just knows that for a lot of years, Cap was there, day after day, game after game.

And it was always great to see him.

When TB did a search for Cap, he came up with this story from the Alumni Weekly. It's really well done, beyond the parts about Cap - it's sort of a week in the life of the football team prior to the 1988 Yale football game.

It's long, but you definitely want to invest the time. Click HERE to see it.

As for Cap, TB can still see him, sitting in the Caldwell Field House, laughing, talking with whoever happens to walking by at that given moment.

He did a lot for an untold number of Princeton athletes, all of whom appreciated everything he did to help them have the best possible experience they could.

TB received an email Monday night saying that Cap had passed away. It made him sad.

Cap Crossland was a really, really good man.






Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Answer No. 1

TigerBlog finally got his glasses back.

Sort of.

He has his new frames and his old lenses, which is better than nothing, since his old frames pretty much disintegrated and he was basically getting by with no glasses at all. It's amazing how little he could actually see when he didn't have his glasses at all.

The other amazing thing was how many times he reached to adjust his glasses out of habit, since he wasn't actually wearing any. This was especially true when he was riding his bike. It always felt like his glasses were falling off, when in fact they were actually nowhere near his face.

He was struggling along with the idea that he had more than a week to go before he was going to be able to see again when the eye doctor called to say that his frames were available and did he want his old lenses put into them? The answer was a simple "yes."

He got his glasses back just in time to see the first entry in a new series on goprincetontigers.com. It's called "Today's Top Tigers," and it will feature one athlete, from each team, who has been making a presence known in the record book.

The first subject is Lucy Rickerson of the women's soccer team. You can see the story on her HERE.

The story about Rickerson was the No. 2 story on goprincetontigers.com yesterday. It got TB to wondering what the top stories on the website were a year ago.

When you go back through the archives, you see that the top story was new women's basketball coach Carla Berube's hire of Lauren Battista and Dalila Eshe as her assistant coaches. The story did not mention that Princeton would go 26-1 in their first season together.

The other stories were about the recruiting classes and academic awards. It's the stuff of normal summer content.

The lead story yesterday on GPT? No, that was not normal in any way at all.

The lead story was the story about Princeton's plans to reopen for the fall semester. If you missed it, Princeton will have freshmen and juniors on campus in the fall and then sophomores and seniors in the spring. All classes will be taught online, whether you're on campus or not.

This is not the story TB ever would have imagined a year ago. Or 30 years ago. Or 20 years ago. Or ever.

You can read more about it HERE.

It's also the story that addresses the first half of the questions that TB has been asked for the last few months. What's going to happen in the fall?

TB remembers when the spring seasons came to a sudden halt and the spring semester went to an online format. He had this sense that by the start of the new school year that everything would be back to normal, or maybe he just really wanted it to be the case.

For as many times as he has been asked about what the University was going to do, he's wondered it himself equally as much.

Now that the academic schedule has been announced, there's the other question that has dominated conversations as well. What will athletics look like in the fall?

The Ivy League will be making its announcement tomorrow on that front. TB has heard every possible scenario, and everyone is sure that whatever they heard from someone somewhere is exactly how it's going to play out.

TB has no idea. He'll just wait and learn it tomorrow with everyone else.

He's hoping for the best, as he always does.

In the meantime, Answer No. 1 has been announced. These are times unlike any other that TB can relate to, and none of this has been easy for anyone involved, especially the decision makers and the students affected.

TB feels for all of them.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Happy Birthday To One Of The Good Guys

When TigerBlog posted the tweet with the video of Brock Harvey's 92-yard touchdown run against Yale in 1995 last week, he should have mentioned that the radio call of the play was done by Tom McCarthy.

That's the same Tom McCarthy who has been a Major League Baseball broadcaster for the last 20 years, most of that with the Philadelphia Phillies, for whom he serves as the lead play-by-play man for the team's television broadcasts.

If and when Major League Baseball starts to play this year, Tom will be in the broadcast booth at Citizens' Bank Park for every game, whether the Phils are there or not. It appears that team productions will use their own announcers, except they'll call away games from their home stadiums via monitors.

It's not as easy as you think to watch a game on a monitor and broadcast at the same time. From his considerable experience doing radio broadcasting for Princeton games, TB can tell you that it definitely adds to the product to be able to focus on things away from the play, on the field and off.

TB isn't sure how many monitors there will be and what they'll be focused on, but it will be a tougher task for all of the broadcasters. Also, with empty stadiums, it'll be weirder as well.

Tom is a pro's pro when it comes to broadcasting. TB can't imagine how many games he's done in his long career, which includes six seasons with the Princeton football team and nine seasons doing Tiger men's basketball. Included in that run was the 1995 Ivy League football title and the Ivy title and NCAA tournaments in 1996, 1997, 1998 and 2001 with men's basketball, as well as the 1999 NIT run and the 2000 and 2002 NITs as well.

TB's favorite call of Tom's during his time at Princeton was the end of the UCLA game in the 1996 NCAA tournament - "there'll be a new champion."

His second favorite? It was probably the time that Tom was doing a game in Palmer Stadium with Walter Perez, who was then the Princeton football color commentator and who now is an anchor/reporter on Channel 6 news in Philadelphia.

Back in Palmer Stadium, the press box was two levels, and TB had to run stats up the old rickety wooden stairs to get to the broadcast booths on the top, which seemed like a hundred miles from the field. Also in Palmer Stadium, the media food consisted of bag lunches.

One day he got up there just in time to hear Tom say "Marc Washington on the carry, gain of three, it brings up second and seven and Walt, don't even think about eating my cookie."

TB and Tom did a lot of traveling together for Princeton men's basketball, either driving late nights back from whatever Ivy League venue the Tigers had just played in or on airplanes heading off to in-season tournaments. Usually back then, the team would travel a day or two before the game, but TigerBlog and Tom would go the day of, flying just the two of them and then coming back with the team.

TB remembers heading to a game in December 1999 at Kansas, where he and McCarthy flew the Kansas City, rented a car and drove an hour to Lawrence - arriving at the team hotel while the breakfast buffet was still being served. That's how you can tell you got up early.

They also flew to Hawaii together on Christmas 1998. And to a lot of destinations that weren't quite as warm.

If TigerBlog had to list his 100 favorite moments with Princeton, Tom McCarthy would have been there for at least a quarter of them.

The two worked together in the newspaper business as well, but it was clear that Tom's dream was to be a broadcaster. His first professional game was Trenton High-Atlantic City High boys' basketball one day, and he was part of the original broadcast team - and front office - for the Minor League Baseball Trenton Thunder.

It's been awhile since Tom has been the regular play-by-play guy for Princeton, but he and TB have remained close all these years. Tom's oldest son, Patrick, has taken his place at Princeton, as the football and men's basketball radio voice for home games and some road games and some other events on ESPN+. Patrick, who is the next outstanding Princeton broadcaster, is also a minor league broadcaster (he does the Phils' Triple-A team in Lehigh Valley, the Iron Pigs, though there will sadly be no minor league games this year).

Anyway, yesterday was Tom McCarthy's birthday.

Anyone who ever met Tom during his Princeton days immediately liked him and has been extremely happy about the success he's gone on to have. TB obviously has been as well - though, you know, he has missed having him around all the time.

TB got to see Tom yesterday for a bit, Tom and his wife Meg. And Patrick. And even some others in his family who have never actually broadcast a Princeton athletic event.

It was great to see him. It was all a reminder of why he's been one of TB's favorite people for more than 30 years now.

Happy birthday buddy. He's definitely one of the good guys.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Once Again To Zelda

Well, that was fun.

TigerBlog is referring to the question he asked yesterday about who the man in the picture was.

Here's one more hint:
"They were careless people, Tom and Daisy. They smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money, or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that held them together, leaving others to clean up the mess they had made."

Only one person got the correct answer, and that came on Twitter. It was from "Tigre Triste," who got it right, or presumably got it right, with a response of "FSF."

If "FSF" stands for "F. Scott Fitzgerald," then yes, that's the correct answer.

As TB said in his four hints yesterday:
1) you've definitely heard of him
2) you are very familiar with his accomplishments
3) he's a Princeton alum
4) he's quite possibly the best-ever at what he did

All of those apply. And for all the times that you've read or studied about him, did you ever see his picture, let alone his picture at Princeton?

TB got a few guesses yesterday as the person's identity. Most of those guesses were Hobey Baker.

Interestingly enough, Hobey Baker and F. Scott Fitzgerald both died on Dec. 21, although 22 years apart. Between the two of them, they lived a total of 70 years, though in many ways both will live forever.

They're also linked in literature.

Fitzgerald's first novel was "This Side Of Paradise," which featured a main character named Amory Blaine and a minor character named Allenby. Amory was Hobey Baker's middle name; the character of Allenby was based on Baker himself.

Fitzgerald spent his childhood moving from Minnesota (St. Paul) to upstate New York (Buffalo, Syracuse) before coming to Princeton in 1913. He tried out for the football team but didn't make it, and apparently he owned a tennis racket.

Of course, his most famous work was the 1925 novel "The Great Gatsby," which tells the story of the ultra-rich Tom and Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby, as told by the upper middle class Nick Carraway. There's not a wasted word in the entire book - not even in the dedication, which is to his wife: "Once Again To Zelda."

Tom, like Nick, is 30 in the book, which is set in 1922. That would make Nick likely a member of the Yale Class of 1914.

This would also mean that he would have been at Yale when Baker was at Princeton.

Were that the case, then the three Hobey Baker vs. Tom Buchanan matchups were definitely defensive minded. Princeton beat Yale 6-3 in 1911 to win the national championship, and then there were two straight ties, with a 6-6 final in 1912 and a 3-3 final in 1913.

Tom is often described by his physical size and prowess in the book. He's also a jerk, which is probably why Nick says this about him: "He was one of those men who reach such an acute limited excellence at twenty-one that everything afterwards savours of anti-climax."

Of course, in the real world of Ivy League athletics, it's what you learn during your limited time as an athlete that helps shape you for the rest of your life, not what defines your existence forever, with no way to ever match it.

And it was a fun exercise to give you the picture, and to talk about F. Scott Fitzgerald's world.

He died when he was only 44, and "The Great Gatsby" didn't achieve the status it now enjoys until after his death. He was part of a magical time at Princeton and then when he embarked on his writing career, and his works today all these years later serve as a reminder of what that world was.

As for this world, Princeton and the Ivy League have both announced big decisions on the future in the coming days. TigerBlog has heard every kind of speculation ,and he doesn't have any of the answers yet.

He'll wait it out with everyone else to see what comes next. Whatever it is, Princeton Athletics will still be teaching the same lessons and the same values that it always has, and those lessons and values were essential to all during this past surreal spring.

In the meantime, it's the Fourth of July weekend.

TigerBlog hopes everyone gets to enjoy it, and he hopes that everyone is staying safe.


Thursday, July 2, 2020

Who Is The Man In The Picture

To get today started, can anyone tell TigerBlog who the person in this picture is?

Here are a few hints:
1) you've definitely heard of him
2) you are very familiar with his accomplishments
3) he's a Princeton alum
4) he's quite possibly the best-ever at what he did



Any guesses?

TigerBlog will give you a little while to try to figure it out. Or maybe he won't say anything until tomorrow and see if anyone can get it right.

Here's another hint: TB had no idea who he was when he first saw the picture until it was ID'd for him.

Once he figured out who it was, he was definitely fascinated by it.

There. Now you should get it, no problem.

The man in the picture is definitely not Carl Teter, the 1994 Princeton football captain. As TB said yesterday, he made a big error when he put a picture of Teter on Page 1 of the media guide that year, only to realize after it came back from the printer that no, it wasn't actually a picture of Teter.

TB was going to add to that story that he always wrestled with two emotions after sending off a publication to the printer. First, there was the feeling of great relief that it was finally done, especially done on time.

It has to feel a bit like handing in a senior thesis (something TB did not have to write at Penn).

Then there was the feeling of dread when the boxes and boxes of final books (very expensive ones) came back from said printer. It was only a matter of time before someone pointed out a mistake, and correcting them at that point was not very easy.

Thankfully, the picture of Teter that wasn't Teter was the biggest mistake TB ever made. He also had the head shots of two young assistant coaches backwards, so for the whole season in a game program they had their names under the other's picture.

That was always an awful conversation.

Coach: There's a mistake on Page 142
TB: *#%!@!!*@)(%#(%
Coach: Can we fix it?
TB: Nope. It would cost a lot of money
Coach: Well, can it come out of your budget?

There aren't nearly the number of publications now as there used to be. TB can make as many mistakes as he wants here and simply correct him when he sees them.

In fact, if you came here early yesterday morning, you might have noticed that the two tweets that TB embedded didn't actually embed. They were just the HTML code, which looked sort of silly until he fixed it.

Had this been 1994, you would have had HTML code for the whole season. Or something like that.

TB couldn't help but laugh when he got an email yesterday from Bruce Wood, formerly in the Dartmouth sports information office, who said this: "Gotta say, the day the press guides came back was always nerve-racking."

He also told a funny story about how in 1985, a senior lineman had been left out of the Big Green guide, and how from then on that player got any possible publicity they could find for him. That's definitely how it worked.
In other news, an email went out yesterday announcing the additions to the Board of Trustees. TB read through the names and lo and behold, there was a very familiar one.

Her name is Melissa Wu, and she was a cross country/track and field athlete before graduating in 1999.

Here's what the official release said about her:
Melissa Wu is chief executive officer of Education Pioneers. Based in Boston, she leads the national nonprofit that aims to recruit diverse talent into education. Since becoming CEO in 2018, Wu has worked to continue to strengthen initiatives that focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. Earlier in her tenure at Education Pioneers, Wu oversaw the launch of Impact Fellowship, a 10-month leadership development program.

Wu previously worked as a partner at TNTP, a national education nonprofit that recruits and trains teachers and advances policies and practices for effective teaching. She also has worked at the Boston Consulting Group, and started her career at the TEAK Fellowship, an academic enrichment program in New York City that prepares low-income students for success.

Wu graduated from Princeton in 1999 with an A.B. in sociology and earned an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Here's TB's unofficial addition to that: She was always, always a breath of fresh air, always with a smile, anytime she came into Jadwin Gym or the Office of Athletic Communications. It's great to see that she's doing well.

As for the man in the picture, TB will have that for you tomorrow. It's a good test.

He is welcoming any and all guesses.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Sorry Carl

TigerBlog is glad to see Carl Teter is doing well.

At least he seems to be, based on this tweet:


That tweet is part of a series that Verbit, the longest-serving Princeton football coach, has been doing this summer.

TigerBlog hasn't spoken to Teter since Teter graduated back in 1995. Before that, Teter was a captain of the 1994 football team, which was his senior season.

Also back then, TB was in his first go-round as the Princeton football contact for the Office of Athletic Communications. The first major project he ever worked on at Princeton was the 1994 media guide, and he was really pleased with how it came out, especially since he barely knew how to turn a computer on when he first started at Princeton that summer.

In fact, he owes a great deal to Chuck Sullivan, then a Princeton intern and now the longtime communications director for the American Athletic Conference. It was Chuck who taught TB how to use a computer and especially how to do desktop publishing, courtesy of a long-since obsolete program called PageMaker.

The computer on which Chuck taught TB, by the way, was a tiny desktop Mac that at the time seemed to be so daunting and revolutionary and now would just be the junk that nobody knew what to do with and just let it sit in the back of a closet for a few decades.

Anyway, TB was very proud of his 1994 football media guide, until it came back from the printer. That's when it was pointed out to him that the big picture of Carl Teter on Page 1 was, in fact, not Carl Teter.

TB has felt badly about that ever since.

The other player mentioned in Verbs' tweet yesterday was Marc Ross. TB has spoken to Ross a lot of times since his days as a record-setting wide receiver and kick returner for the Tigers.

Marc Ross spent a lot of years helping build Super Bowl winners for the New York Giants, and now he does television with NFL Network, among other things. He'll be an NFL GM one of these days.

Marc retweeted what Verbs posted and also added a comment with it:
Some of the most impactful and lasting memories of my life learned as part of @PrincetonFTBL always grateful for @SVerbit for recruiting me out of @ArchmereAcademy !!!

What Marc said in his comment is pretty spot on when it comes to what Princeton Athletics is hoping for from its alums and their experience. Some of the most impactful and lasting memories of their lives.

You can't ask for more than that.

And while the subject is Princeton football and Twitter, there was also this yesterday:



That was the first play from scrimmage in Princeton's 1995 game against Yale. Princeton was 8-0 against a 2-6 Yale team, but the Bulldogs' record was misleading, since their quarterback, Chris Hetherington, had missed most of the year to that point.

TigerBlog remembers a lot about that 1995 game. Mostly what he remembers is that when the Tigers had the ball first and 10 on their own 8 to start the game, TB's colleague Kurt Kehl said that Harvey was going to take the ball on first down and go the distance. And that's exactly what happened. When it did, TB thought Princeton was going to roll the rest of the way.

Hetherington would lead Yale back after that opening setback against Princeton for a 21-13 victory at Palmer Stadium. A week later, Princeton would win the Ivy League's outright championship at Dartmouth anyway.

Hetherington? He'd go on to play nearly a decade in the NFL.

And that's some mid-1990s Princeton football for your July 1.

Oh, and one last thing: Sorry about that whole picture thing, Carl. Good to see you're doing well.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Year In Review

So TigerBlog was able to get into the eye doctor yesterday, which is good, considering his glasses are broken and essentially unwearable.

The bad news is that his new glasses won't be ready for as much as two weeks, which means that TB will be struggling to see for awhile. This will lead to squinting, which will lead to bad headaches, but hey, you have your own problems.

In other news, TigerBlog mailed two books off to Bruce Wood, the Big Green Alert Guy who wrote a guest entry here a week ago about his interactions with Pete Carril.

To send the books, TB went to the post office. He picked up a large mailing envelope, put the two books inside, sealed it and sent it on its way.

When the envelope got to New Hampshire, interestingly enough, only one book was still inside. The envelope had been taped up but wasn't ripped or anything.

It's just that one book was missing.

What explains this? Seriously. TB has no idea what happened.

He called the post office who said that there was no book in its lost and found and that the package had reached its destination. That didn't really answer any questions.

Hey, but again, you have your own problems.

In still more news, TigerBlog is working on the Princeton Athletics Year in Review for the 2019-20 academic year.

He's done a lot of Year in Review stories, and his favorite part has always been the idea that when any given academic year begins, there's been no way of knowing what the biggest story of that year will turn out to be. 

It's been one of his favorite parts of working at Princeton, knowing that there are 37 different teams and that any one of them in any given year could do something special and warrant being the lead part of the Year in Review.

As you can guess, there was no way in the world that TB could have figured out what the main story of 2019-20 would be when the academic year started. In fact, here's what he wrote for the first sentence:

The 2019-20 athletic year was unlike any that had ever come before it at Princeton University – and Princeton Athletics goes all the way back to 1864.

Even with no championships contested in the spring, Princeton teams won seven conference championships this past year - six Ivy League titles and the ECAC women's hockey championship. The six Ivy champions were: field hockey, women's volleyball, women's basketball, men's indoor track and field, wrestling and women's swimming and diving.

The 2019-20 season will also be remembered for the 500th Ivy League championship in Princeton history. That distinction went to the wrestling team, whose history-making championship also was the program's first since 1986 and the one that ended Cornell's 18-year title run. It came on a spectacular afternoon at Jadwin Gym in February, where the Tigers defeated Cornell in what was very high drama from start to finish.

There were other huge highlights. Among them:

The field hockey team followed up its 7-0 run through the league by reaching the NCAA championship game. The women's hockey team won its first ECAC championship by taking down No. 1 Cornell in overtime. The women's swimming and diving title was the program's first since 2015 and first for current head coach Bret Lundgaard.

The women's volleyball team won its third Ivy title in four years. The men's indoor track and field title was the program's sixth straight.

The women's basketball team went 26-1, won every Ivy League game by double figures and reached the national rankings.

Unfortunately, the 2019-20 athletic year will always be that year, the one when the seasons ground to a halt in March due to the Coronavirus outbreak. The end of athletics in March meant winter teams couldn't compete in the postseason and the spring teams wouldn't get into the meat of their seasons, or even compete at all, in the case of rowing.

For each of the last five years Princeton has won five Ivy League spring championships. The spring is also the season that contributes the most Directors' Cup points on average, and Princeton was ranked 28th without any of the winter championships or spring ones contested.

Also, Princeton 18 nationally ranked teams still competing when the games stopped.

Who will ever know what kind of year this one ultimately would have been? Who knows what successes would have happened in the winter and spring postseasons, even national championship ones perhaps.

It makes the Year in Review an interesting project, that's for sure.

When it came to the lead story a year ago at this time, TB wouldn't have guessed "global pandemic."

Monday, June 29, 2020

Gotta See It

TigerBlog's glasses broke.

He went to clean them off, and snap. Instead of one pair of glasses, he now had two half-pairs of glasses.

TigerBlog can barely see without his glasses. He's not even sure what he's writing right now, since he's trying to get through this without them.

Wait, what did he just write?

TB first got glasses back in the 1990s, when he was in his 30s. He was getting headaches, and he went to an eye doctor. Turned out, his vision was really bad, and the headaches were coming from having to squint to see things clearly.

Since then, whenever he starts to get headaches again, it's sign that he needs to get a stronger prescription.

He's never had contact lenses. He doesn't think he'd be able to touch his eyeball, so why bother. Plus, glasses are so easy. Put them on. Take them off.

Until yesterday, he'd never had a pair that broke. He also doesn't have a backup pair, so getting new glasses is now high on his list of things to do this week.

He does remember when he first wore glasses. They made everything look clear, for starters.

He first got them on the night of a Princeton-Cornell men's basketball game at Jadwin Gym. He remembers this, well, clearly, and not just because he could see.

What really sticks out most for him about that night is that nobody noticed he was wearing glasses. He does remember one person who asked him if he had gotten new glasses, which was sort of an acknowledgement at least that something was different.

That person? Brian Earl, who was then a Princeton player and is, ironically enough, now the head coach of the men's basketball team at Cornell.

Actually, TB's glasses are now being held together by white tape, which 1) makes it at least a little easier to see and 2) makes him look ridiculous. Oh well.

In other news, remember Friday when TB mentioned that the "Top Gun" sequel was going to be released soon and he had seen the trailer? Well, guess what was on TV Saturday night on the IFC channel?

Yes. The original "Top Gun." When TB first got to it, most of the movie was over. Maverick had just decided to attend the graduation, and well, TB doesn't want to ruin it for you if you've never seen it, beyond pointing out that Mav does say "Talk to me Goose" in there.

And now everyone has to wait six more months for the sequel? C'mon now.

If you can watch movies over and over - knowing full well how they turn out - can you also watch games over and over, knowing how they'll turn out too?

TB has watched a bunch of old games of late, mostly old college football games, "old," in this case, defined as pretty much any time in the last 25 years. It's incredible, as TB has said before during this pandemic, how different games from even just a few years ago looked as compared to these days.

The best part of watching old college football game is seeing the players who ended up being impact NFL names. There's always a few in each game.

TB was scrolling through the listings the other day when he came upon a Princeton-Penn men's basketball game. This was on Comcast in Philadelphia, which meant it was going to be a game Penn won.

As suspected, it was. Comcast showed the 2018 game from the Palestra, which Penn won 76-70. As TB has documented a few times, finding a game that Mitch Henderson either played in or coached against Penn where Princeton lost can be difficult.

In fact, this was from January, after Princeton finished a season-sweep over the Quakers:
Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson has an extraordinary record against Penn, as both a player and coach. In fact, the win Friday was his 20th against the Quakers, against eight losses. That's a winning percentage of .714 in games in which he has either played or coached. If you take the rest of the series, all of the games without Mitch Henderson, then Penn leads 122-97, or a winning percentage for Princeton of .443.

Mitch is 15-4 against Penn as a head coach. The only other time Princeton ever won 15 of 19 against Penn in the entire history of the series was back in the late 1950s through most of the 1960s, when Princeton had a run of 21-5, with two 15-4 runs overlapping in there.

As for Penn since 2012, exactly one-quarter of its league losses in that time are against Mitch Henderson-coached teams. That's a pretty good run by Mitch.

As for the game from 2018, TB decided not to watch.

And now, until he gets his glasses fixed, he couldn't see it even if he wanted.

Pete Carril always talked about the importance of being able to "see it." TB hopes to return to being able to do so today.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Talk To Me Goose

Wait, there's a "Top Gun" sequel?

How come TigerBlog didn't know this until he saw the trailer yesterday?

This is either going to be awesome or awful. There is nobody who will see it who will say "eh, it was okay."

TigerBlog saw the original in the movie theater in 1986. He's also seen it about a thousand times since on TV. Well, maybe not a thousand times, but enough times that he can essentially recite it.

In case you're wondering why Tom Cruise is one of the top movie stars ever, consider that the original "Top Gun" cost $15 million to produce and then earned $358 million. That's what Cruise can do to a movie.

The sequel, by the way, cost 10 times as much to make, at $150 million. That's a lot for a movie these days.

The release date for the sequel, officially entitled "Top Gun: Maverick," was supposed to be today, June 26. Instead, it's been pushed back to December because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What will movies be like post-pandemic? Will people go back to sitting in crowded theaters? Will this movie be released directly to Netflix or Amazon.

Anyway, Cruise was perfect as Maverick. He got ripped off for the Best Actor Academy Award that year, which went to Paul Newman for "The Color of Money." That was sort of a lifetime achievement award, so it's hard to get too mad at that.

Of course, Cruise wasn't even nominated. Nor was the movie, except in one category: Best Original Song, for "Take My Breath Away," which it at least won.

You know what other movie from 1986 didn't get much respect at the Academy Awards? How about "Hoosiers," which was not nominated for Best Picture and didn't get a nomination for Gene Hackman for Best Actor.

Should these be like drafts in the NFL and NBA, where someone goes back a few years later and says what should have gotten nominated, or who should have been chosen where?

TB, for one, is now excited to see "Top Gun: Maverick." Of course it'll be predictable, and the trailer confirms that. But it'll be the good kind of predictable.

The only question: Will Cruise at some point say "talk to me Goose?"

So while the subject is the year 1986, what was going with Princeton Athletics back in 1986?

The Tigers won eight Ivy League championships in the 1985-86 academic year, six on the men's side and two on the women's side. The Ivy champs that year:
men's golf, men's lightweight rowing, men's indoor track and field, men's outdoor track and field, men's swimming and diving, wrestling, softball and women's volleyball.

The 1985 football season was a tough one for Princeton, who came very close to taking the Ivy League championship.

Penn was the 1985 champ at 6-1, followed by a second-place tie between Princeton and Harvard at 5-2. The Tigers defeated Harvard by the rather interesting score of 11-6, a score so bizarre that it got TB thinking he needed to investigate this a little more.

How do you get to 11? Three field goals and a safety? A touchdown, two-point conversion and field goal?

Give TB a second to look this up...

... okay, he's back. It was a lot wilder than TB would have guessed.

In fact, every point in the game came on special teams. Harvard led 6-3 (two field goals to one) late into the fourth quarter, when a bad snap on a Crimson punt looked like it might give the Tigers the ball inside the 10. Instead, the Harvard punter decided to knock it through the end zone for a safety, which was a pretty heads up play considering the score and time (only four-plus minutes to go on a day when the offenses had done little and Doug Butler, one of the Ivy's all-time best quarterbacks, struggled to a 12 for 36 day for 121 yards).

As it turned out, the ball barely made it out of the end zone, as Princeton almost fell on it for a touchdown. Instead, it was now 6-5 Harvard.

All the Crimson had to do was free kick the ball away and play defense one more time. After Harvard chose to kick off a tee instead of punt, Princeton's Rob Urquhart scooped up the ball and took it back 75 yards for the winning touchdown.

Pretty wild stuff, right?

Unfortunately for Princeton, the Tigers had lost 17-0 to Brown earlier in the season and then lost 31-21 in a showdown against Penn the Saturday after the Harvard game. Princeton had led that game 21-0 in the second quarter.

TB remembers it well; he covered that game while still in the newspaper business. That was 35 years ago this fall.

He did not cover the Harvard game that year, which was in Cambridge. He didn't realize it was that crazy until just now.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Guest TigerBlog - Big Green Alert Talks Pete Carril

TigerBlog is always interested in what others have to say about pretty much any issue related to Princeton Athletics. The Guest TigerBlogs are always entertaining, and TB loves to see the perspectives of those who want the floor.

Today's guest entry comes from Bruce Wood, whom you would know as the Big Green Alert guy. Bruce has covered Dartmouth athletics since before TB first came to Princeton, and the two have developed a good friendship over the years. There have been a lot of games they've both covered, both in Princeton and Hanover.

Today's guest entry belongs to Bruce:

The recent TigerBlog column about Pete Carril’s most memorable quotes got me thinking about both the first time I saw the great man on the sidelines and the last.

The first was as a fan on March 13, 1976, when I traveled from New Jersey to Providence, R.I., with a car full of friends to watch the Tigers take on Phil Sellers and the undefeated Scarlet Knights in the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. My buddies were all relieved when Rutgers escaped with a 54-53 win over Armond Hill, Frank Sowinski and Barnes Hauptfuhrer. Me? I kept it to myself on the long drive back home but I was a disappointed Princeton fan after the front end of a one-and-one that might have given the Tigers the win rimmed out with four seconds remaining.

Pete and I would chat briefly about that game two decades later.

As the beat writer covering Dartmouth sports for the Valley News I was on press row at Jadwin Gym on Feb. 23, 1996 for what would be the final Princeton-Dartmouth game of Carril’s storied career. With players like Sea Lonergan, Brian Gilpin and Kenny Mitchell, this was one of the best Big Green teams I would write about, but once again on this Friday night it was simply no match for the NCAA-bound Tigers led by Steve Goodrich, Sydney Johnson, Gabe Lewullis and Mitch Henderson. I remember like it was yesterday the tremendous difficulty Dartmouth had putting the ball in the basket that night and giddy Princeton fans chanting as halftime approached, “No double figures. No double figures.”

Dartmouth escaped that ignominious fate to close out the half with 16 points but never challenged in a 65-39 loss.

After getting lost briefly in the bowels of Jadwin Gym after the game I made it to the press room and asked Carril about shutting down a usually potent Dartmouth offense. He wasted no words explaining what we had all just seen. “They have defendable players,” the old coach said, “and we defended them.”

I was on deadline and unlike TigerBlog I’ve never been a fast writer. But while I needed to grab a desk and get to work on my story that would have to wait. I had always regretted as a grad student in journalism at Penn State not standing and applauding after the final class with the best professor I ever had, who was retiring that spring. While I wasn’t about to publicly clap for Carril, who I knew was approaching the end of a long road, I wanted to tell him quietly and privately how much I appreciated everything he had taught us about the right way to play basketball.

So I pulled him aside and thanked him the way I wished I had that journalism professor years earlier.

Before I ducked out of the room I told Pete that I was at the 1976 Princeton-Rutgers tournament game and given how the bracket broke I’ve always believed his team would have taken the Scarlet Knight’s path all the way to the Final Four that year.

Carril sighed and said, “I’ve always thought so, too.”

Not a classic Carrilism, but one I’ll never forget.

 

 

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The MacBean Family

Jeff MacBean was a very consistent and tenacious midfielder for the Princeton men's lacrosse team in the 1990s.

He was a key member of two NCAA championship teams, assisting on the game-winning goal in overtime in the 1994 final and then finishing his career as a second-team All-American on the 1996 NCAA champion.

MacBean had the good sense to hug Jesse Hubbard after Hubbard's game-winning goal in overtime of the 1996 final. That's because the picture of the two of them ended up on the cover of Lacrosse Magazine, and now all these years later, the magazine is doing a "where are they now" series on people who were on previous covers.

Because of that, the Lacrosse Magazine people reached out to TigerBlog for some information about MacBean's career. MacBean finished his career with 40 goals and 49 assists, not to mention 115 ground balls.

In short, he was the kind of winning player that NCAA championship teams needed.

When TB looked back at the scoresheet from the 1996 final, there were some things he remembered pretty much exactly and others that he'd forgotten. For instance, he did remember that Princeton went up 12-9 after scoring three goals in a seven-minute stretch from late in the third into the fourth and that Virginia tied it with three fourth-quarter goals, in a span of little more than four minutes.

TB did forget that Don McDonough tied Hubbard with a team-best three goals on the day. He did remember that Virginia's Michael Watson was unstoppable, with five goals of his own, to earn Most Outstanding Player honors (TB thinks it was voted on before the OT).

The 1994 and 1996 NCAA finals did have a lot of similarities. Both games were at Byrd Stadium at the University of Maryland. Both times Princeton defeated Virginia. Both games went to overtime.

Both times Princeton won the OT face-off (though UVa fans will doubt that statement to this day). Both times Princeton won on that first OT possession.

Both game-winning goals were scored by Princeton's No. 16 (Kevin Lowe in 1994, Hubbard in 1996). Both of those goal-scorers are now in the US Lacrosse National Hall of Fame.

Actually, so too is Watson, the UVa star. TB has never met Watson, but he's relatively sure that it still bothers him that Princeton won both of those games - especially after outshooting the Tigers 44-33 in that 1996 game. Pancho Gutstein, by the way, came off the bench to make eight saves while allowing five goals in 28 minutes for Princeton to earn All-Tournament honors.

TigerBlog looked on YouTube to see the game-winning goals from those two games, but he could only find the 1994 one. That was the one where MacBean took the ball behind the goal and found Lowe up top, where Lowe had all the time in the world to get his shot off.

It's interesting that Lowe was the goal-scorer and not the feeder, since Lowe is one of the great feeders ever to play.

As for the 1996 game, the assist on Hubbard's goal came from Lorne Smith, himself a first-team All-American midfielder.

Princeton lacrosse has won nine NCAA championships between men and women. Of those nine, more than half - five - were decided in overtime. Princeton is 5-1 in overtime NCAA championships games, including 4-0 for the men.

Think about how much different Princeton men's lacrosse history would have been had those four overtimes gone the other way.

Also, the average margin of victory in Princeton's non-OT NCAA wins is four goals for the women (12-7 over Georgetown in 2002 and 10-7 over Maryland in 1994) and 11 goals for the men, who defeated Maryland 19-7 in 1997 and 15-5 in 1998.

No men's team has ever won an NCAA final by more than 12 goals.

Back at Jeff MacBean, he was not the only member of his family who was a championship athlete at Princeton.

His father Scott was a member of the 1969 Princeton Ivy League football championship team. He was also the first T-formation quarterback in Princeton history, as the Tigers didn't abandon the single-wing until after Dick Colman left following the 1968 season.

MacBean, the father, was a 1969 first-team All-Ivy League selection.

That's a pretty good Tiger father/son duo.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Get The Picture

TigerBlog was talking to Shelley Szwast yesterday.

If you're seen a picture of Princeton men's or women's hockey or men's or women's lacrosse in a home game in recent years, there's an excellent chance it was taken by Shelley.

In fact, during the overlap between the two sports, Shelley is something of a fixture for weekends at a time in both venues. There are even times where three and possibly even all four teams are home in the same weekend.

So what did Shelley say yesterday? That she missed the days of shooting give games in a weekend.

That's how it is for the people who work in college athletics. They get swamped during the year, especially when it's crossover season, but when they certainly have missed it these last few months.

Heck, they miss it during a normal summer.

Shelley is an outstanding photographer, especially for someone who is a photographer as mostly a hobby.

TB has worked with a lot of photographers in his time at Princeton. The person who has taken by far the most pictures of Princeton athletics all these years is Beverly Schaefer. In fact, TB would go so far as to say Beverly has seen more Princeton athletic events than anyone else in the last 20 years.

There have been a lot of really good pictures taken of Princeton games through the years, by many different photographers. Some photographers who have turned out to be great ones - such as Patrick Tewey and Brian McWalters - have just emailed out of nowhere to see if Princeton needed pictures at a certain event.

The photography process has changed a lot since TB first began, but the bottom line is that a great sports photo is still a work of art. The need for quality pictures has also changed dramatically.

Back when TB first started, the main need for pictures was for media guides. Because almost every picture used back then was black-and-white, almost no games were shot with color film.

Oh year. Film. This was before digital photography. When photographers shot games, they'd have actual film to load in their cameras, and when a roll of film was done, it had to be developed.

This required sending the film to a company that the Office of Athletic Communications had a deal with, a company in West Windsor called the Leigh Photographic Group. There was delivery person who would come and get the unprocessed film, and then a few days later a bunch of negatives would appear.

Then it would be up to the OAC contact to go through the negatives and find the pictures that appeared to be usable - appeared to be, that is, because until prints were actually made, there was no way to be 100 percent sure.

So then the next step was to get prints made. And the picture that you thought was perfect on the negative turned out to be blurred, or it wasn't even who you thought it was, or something else that made it unusable. That was frustrating.

Or worse, you had the absolute perfect picture, but it was black-and-white, so you couldn't use it for the media guide cover.

Of course, none of that takes into account that to the picture then had to be sized to a certain percentage to fit a certain space in a publication and then sent over to campus printing to be scanned. TB spent a lot of time riding around between Leigh, Jadwin and campus printing (which was then in the Forrestal campus) in those days.

Today the need for photography can't possibly keep up with the demand, thanks to the advent of social media. The challenges are, as TB said, much different.

These days, and for the last 15 years or so, everything has been digital. The quantity of pictures has skyrocketed, since it's so easy to shoot and then forward them.

The Princeton Athletics Twitter feed started a contest yesterday to choose the best picture of the 2019-20 academic year. The contest will continue for a month, as the 33 pictures that represent all of the programs gets whittled down to the winner.

Make sure you check it out. It figures to be fun.



Monday, June 22, 2020

A (Fathers') Day At The Beach

TigerBlog has been a father for a little more than 23 years now.

Before he gets to that, he has a story from his last few hours before he became a parent for the first time. It was around 3 am, a few hours before TigerBlog Jr. made his first appearance. It was time to head to the hospital, and when TB went to close the garage door, he caught one of his fingers between the pieces that snap together as the door shuts.

It hurt. A lot.

What TB learned is that in a maternity ward, nobody cares about a dad's finger, no matter how swollen it got. There was just no sympathy coming his way.

What the heck?

The first five years of being a parent are the longest. Actually, make that the first two or three years. Each moment in a baby's life needs to be supervised, and that makes each day stretch on for an eternity- broken up only by those glorious times that every new parent cherishes, nap times.

Even laundry with a baby isn't easy.

When you do your laundry, you have big pants, big shirts, big socks. You get the idea. With a baby, you have to fold five onesies for every one of your own t-shirts, and there is no shortage of onesies to wash when you have babies.

TigerBlog had never changed a diaper before he had children. He thinks it took him around 20 minutes to do it the first time, and then about 20 seconds for that diaper to fall off.

By the time he was done, he could change a baby in less than 30 seconds. He had it down to a science.

TB was thinking about what it was like to have little kids yesterday, which happened to be Fathers' Day. He thought about his Princeton colleagues who have their own little kids, and what it's been like for them the last few months.

For those who have grammar school kids, it's been a spring of home schooling, and that couldn't have been easy. For those who have pre-school kids, it was sort of business as usual, minus any kind of child care, which always made for at least a bit of a respite once kids were old enough.

And those who have both? Bless their saintly souls.

TB is glad he never found himself in that situation. He also hopes that it doesn't happen ever again for anyone.

For TB, Fathers' Day 2020 featured a trip to the beach with his daughter, Miss TigerBlog ’22. It's both of their favorite places, or at least one of their favorites, along with lacrosse fields and Broadway theaters.

To get on the beach, by the way, they had to log on to a website at 7 am to grab one of 500 day passes made available.

As they sat there, they happened to pick a spot that was surrounded by little kids. It made TB nostalgic for the days when his own kids were young and they'd go to the beach.

These little kids had boundless energy, and they had parents who didn't. It's a mismatch really, as the parents are just hoping to bring back the same number of kids they brought, even if it's not necessarily the ones they came with (just kidding about that part).

MTB spent most of her time stretched out on a blanket, or in the water. She required no supervision, which allowed TigerBlog to do what he loves, which is to sit in a beach chair, look out at the water, smell the salty air, put his feet in the ocean.

And, of course, reflect. On this day, the main topic was, appropriately enough, fatherhood. Being a father is an amazing thing.

There have been a lot of ups, a few downs (TBJ lost three retainers within two months, for instance) and a whole lot of pride.

His daughter is a member of the Princeton women's lacrosse team. As with every Princeton athlete, she took her own road to becoming a Tiger. In her case, that included her first school experience at the U-League Nursery School, which is across the street from the Jadwin Gym parking lot.

As like any other father of any other Princeton athlete, TB takes a great deal of pride in seeing his daughter compete here. And to have the experience she's having.

TB saw the social media posts from the various Princeton teams wishing all the Tiger dads a Happy Fathers' Day. They were sweet and they were cute, but for TB, they were something much deeper.

He can relate first hand to what it means to be one of those Tiger dads, and it is amazing.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Congratulations Lloyd

When TigerBlog learned yesterday that Lloyd Brewer is retiring, the first thought he had was that he can never remember even once having had a negative interaction in any context with him.

If you don't know who Lloyd Brewer is, he's spent the last 21 years as an assistant coach with the Princeton baseball team. That's 21 years of nothing negative, and that's a pretty good record.

The Princeton baseball record during his time is also impressive.

Princeton won six Ivy League championships and nine Gehrig Division titles (back when there were two divisions in Ivy baseball and softball) while Brewer was with the program. Princeton also sent a ton of players to professional baseball and seven to the Major Leagues, including World Series champion Chris Young and current New York Yankee Mike Ford.

More than just the wins and the great players, Princeton baseball has been a close-knit and loyal group. That family feel has always started at the top, with head coach Scott Bradley and Brewer at his side for 21 of his 23 years.

Bradley spoke about his longtime assistant on yesterday's Princeton Department of Athletics Zoom staff meeting. He talked about his loyalty and commitment to Princeton, how he took the job when it paid next to nothing, how devoted he was to maintaining Clarke Field.

More than anything else, though, he talked about his love of baseball, how he just loved to be out on the field, working with the guys. It's that love of the game and of Princeton's players that drove him all those years.

It's not always easy being an assistant coach.

Many assistant coaches look at what they do as a necessary stepping stone to the ultimate goal, which is being a head coach. Not all will make it that far. In fact, most won't.

College athletics are filled with assistant coaches who have made move after move in hopes of moving up. Some give up all together and find something else to do.

It's a grind. Recruiting is almost always ongoing. Player development is essential. More and more there are responsibilities off the field, with alumni relations, fundraising and even social media content production.

It's not always for everyone.

Then you have to factor in the part about checking your ego at the door. The head coach is the one who gets the glory when the team wins. The head coach is the one who talks to the media. The head coach is the one who wins Coach of the Year.

The assistant coach? The head coach would be nothing without a good one. But there isn't always a lot of glory in it.

There's also the fact that the head coach and the assistant coach don't always see eye to eye. Recruit that kid or the other kid? Run this offense or that offense? Put out this batting order or that batting order?

The head coach has the final say.

Princeton has had several assistant coaches who have lasted longer than 20 years, but not many. TB can think of a handful off the top of his head, and he apologizes right now knowing that he's overlooking some obvious deserving ones.

But there was Ron Celestin in women's soccer. David Metzbower in men's lacrosse. Neil Pomphrey and Richard Hankinson in squash.

And of course, the longest tenured Princeton assistant coach, football's Steve Verbit. The man they call "Verbs" has been with the program for more than 34 years now, working with four different head coaches and hundreds of players.

Bob Surace, by the way, fits in both of those categories. He's a former player during Verbit's time, and he's the current Princeton head coach.

As for Lloyd Brewer, he was also a Princeton fixture for a long time, albeit under one head coach. Like most longtime assistant coaches, he probably had the chance to go after head coaching jobs through the years. Instead, he stayed at Princeton, putting his value and values on the program.

TB traveled with the baseball team to Lafayette, Louisiana, for the 2016 NCAA regional. It is one of the very best events he's seen in all of his time at Princeton, and he's very glad he was able to be a part of it.

That regional is the only time he's traveled with the baseball team. It was a great look inside the program, how Bradley runs things - and how valuable Lloyd was to him.

So now Lloyd has stepped away. He's a grandfather now, and he's put in his time at Princeton. He deserves his time now.

And he always deserves congratulations for a job well done.

As TB said, head coaches cannot win without top assistant coaches. Finding ones like Lloyd Brewer sn't easy.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Hall Of Fame Ballot

TigerBlog was looking at the names on the ballot for the next class for the College Football Hall of Fame, and there were three names that really jumped out at him.

The first two were Tony Gonzalez and Julius Peppers.

Perhaps you know them best from their long NFL careers. Gonzalez played 17 seasons in the NFL, and he has more receptions than any other tight end ever. In fact, he trails only Jerry Rice and Larry Fitzgerald all-time in NFL receptions by any player.

Peppers, like Gonzalez, played 17 NFL seasons himself. That's an extraordinary record of longevity in a sport that isn't know for it.

In fact, out of their combined 34 seasons, the two had 23 Pro Bowl appearances between them.

Peppers played in one Super Bowl, with the Carolina Panthers, falling to New England 32-29 on a late field goal.

Gonzalez is already in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Peppers is a lock when he becomes eligible.

For TigerBlog, though, he will never look at either of those guys without thinking about their time as college basketball players. More specifically, he thinks about their time as college basketball players who helped knock Princeton out of the NCAA tournament.

Grrrr.

For Gonzalez, it came in 1997, when he played for California against Princeton in Winston-Salem, N.C. Princeton had gone 24-3 in the regular season and 14-0 in the Ivy League under first-year head coach Bill Carmody, and the Tigers earned a No. 12 seed, matching them with fifth-seeded Cal.

The game was also Thursday at noon. Cal would win 55-52, as Gonzalez went for 13 points and five rebounds in the game. By 2:15 or so, Princeton had been eliminated, before the energy of the tournament really began.

TB remembers the empty feeling he had standing in Princeton's locker room after that game because the tournament had come and gone in a blink for the Tigers.

TB also went to the NCAA games in Charlotte the next day and back in Winston-Salem that Saturday before watching Princeton-North Carolina men's lacrosse that Sunday.

Princeton's leading scorer against Cal by the way, was Mitch Henderson, who scored 15 points on 7 for 9 shooting. He also had five assists in 38 minutes.

Then there was Peppers. That was in 2001, in John Thompson III's first season as head coach.

Princeton was 15 seed that year, matched with No. 2 North Carolina in New Orleans. This time the game wasn't all that close, as UNC built a 20-point halftime lead and then won 70-48. Peppers had 12 points, five rebounds and three steals in that one.

Those were two of the names from the ballot that jumped out at TB. The third was Keith Elias.

It's great to see a Princeton player on the ballot, especially Elias. If you never got to see Elias play, he was as exciting as it gets.

Elias is Princeton's all-time leading rusher with 4,208 yards and all-time leader with 49 rushing touchdowns, and his 299 yards rushing against Lehigh are also the school record. He was also a two-time first-team All-American who had a six-year NFL career of his own.

There wasn't one time when Elias touched the ball where TB didn't think he was going the distance. There are just some athletes who have that electric quality about them, and Elias most certainly was one of those.

Beyond that, he's also one of those people who just take over the room simply by walking in. He had it in college, and he still has it now.

Elias is one of the two best players TB has seen play at Princeton, along with John Lovett. They dominated in different ways, but they were always the focus of everyone in the stadium at all times they were on the field.

It's good to see Elias on the ballot for the Hall of Fame. There are a lot of names on the ballot form all divisions, and may of them are really familiar ones to college football fans, as you would expect.

Hopefully though whoever is in charge of choosing the ones who get in will understand the impact that Elias had on Ivy League football and how deserving he is of being included.

He certainly gets TB's vote.


Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Riding For Derek, Again

Digger was getting emotional.

It's not something he usually gets. He usually gets determined. He usually faces situations heads on, with a courage that is impossible to miss.

TigerBlog has seen him connected to an IV that was dripping chemotherapy into his veins, and he took it completely in stride. If anything he joked about it.

So when TB says that he saw his friend Digger get emotional, it's something that really stands out.

This was early Saturday morning, at the home of Charlie Thompson, Princeton's head athletic trainer. The occasion was the Million Dollar Bike Ride, which is 2020 was vastly different than it had been in years past.

Were it not for the pandemic, the event would have been in Philadelphia. And it would have been earlier. Instead of 8:30 at Charlie's house, it would have been 6:30 in Philadelphia.

And the 20 or so people who were at Charlie's house would have been in Philadelphia at 6:30, no questions asked. Or 4:30 in the morning. Or 11 at night. Or whenever Digger asked them to be.

The Million Dollar Bike Ride is part of the effort that Digger - whose real name is Steve DiGregorio - and his family have thrown themselves into as they attempt to do anything they can to combat the rare disease of Ataxia Telangiectasia, something that affects one in 300,000 people. One of those people is Derek DiGregorio, the middle son of Steve and Nadia.

Derek turns 23 soon, and he's been fighting this fight for nearly all of that time, as has his family, and his extended family, one with very deep Princeton Athletics roots.

The bike ride is only a small part of that effort. In fact, the DiGregorios have left no stone unturned in this battle, one that has seen them raise money and awareness, all while racing against an unforgiving prognosis for Derek.

Not that you could ever tell that from talking to Derek. His spirit has never wavered either, and if he can't inspire you with his courage, then you are uninspirable, if that is a word.

A lot has changed since the last bike ride in Philadelphia last June. There was the pandemic of course, which made it into a virtual ride this year. Participants ride in teams, all representing different orphan diseases, and unlike the ride in Philadelphia, this time those teams could ride wherever they wanted.

And then there was Digger himself.

If he wasn't busy enough and tested enough, now all of the sudden he had his own health crisis, one involving a bout with cancer. Digger fought that one hard (TB witnessed a few chemo sessions first hand) and now seems to have gotten past it.

And there he was Saturday morning ready for the bike ride. Before he sent the group out on the road, he said a few words - and it was there that he started to get emotional.

He spoke about how no matter what stage of cancer treatment he was at, he told his doctors that he would be riding come June. And he was right.

As for the ride itself, it's usually an option of 13 or 34 miles. Charlie has a 17-mile loop that he does from his house, so it became 17 or 34. Or some fractions of that, depending who you were.

TB ended up doing the full 34. He was one of five riders who did so, along with Charlie, football Senior Associate Head Coach Steve Verbit, former Princeton women's basketball player and assistant coach (and one-time Ivy League Player of the Year) Addie Micir and former Princeton assistant football coach and current Dartmouth assistant Don Dobes.

At various times TB found himself riding with that group, or with former men's basketball player Howard Levy, or former Princeton baseball player Ted Deutsch. The ride allowed plenty of time to talk, about anything and everything, especially about current events.

When the riding was over, it was back to Charlie's backyard and a socially distanced reception. Derek was there too, in his usual manner of laughing, joking, making fun of people, being made fun of himself - all the usual 23-year-old stuff.

It was nice for everyone to be together, especially given the isolation that has defined this spring.

Pandemics notwithstanding, though, the DiGregorio family is never going be defined by isolation.

This is a family that is never alone. This is a family with way too much spirit, way too much determination for that.

Once again TigerBlog found himself in awe of them.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Title Streak

Judging by the feedback, everyone seemed to enjoy the Pete Carril quotes yesterday.

TigerBlog figured he'd give you one more before getting started today.

Princeton was playing in one of those in-season tournaments, the ones that were a lot more common back when Carril was the coach. It was the Saturday when it ended, and Princeton had played in the early game that night.

The team had left the arena and gone back to the hotel. TB was still there for the second game and to get his stuff done.

Before he left, he was given a trophy for the Princeton player who had been named to the all-tournament team. TB then took it back to the hotel and found Carril and the other coaches in the hotel bar.

TB gave one of them the trophy and said that it was for the player who made the all-tournament team. While the other coaches said something along the lines of "that's nice," Carril, without ever looking up, said this:

"So did the guy he was guarding."

Epic.

Actually, if TB wanted, he could come up with 20 more stories just like that one.

The point of all this is that Carril has always been exactly what his reputation is. He's a philosopher of sorts, with a no-BS mentality and a way of cutting right to the chase. It's also why he was so good at developing players.

It's what appealed to all of the recruits who came through his office. You can read about that in the "Journey to Jadwin" stories that are about players who played for Coach.

They all say basically the same thing, and that is how much that honesty and directness touched them. It made them want to be the best possible player they could be, and so they signed up for four years of it.

If you look back at the Carril years, he won 13 Ivy League championships in 29 years as Tiger head coach. He took over for Butch van Breda Kolff for the 1967-68 season, tying Columbia for the title his first year (before losing in the playoff for the NCAA bid) and then winning the outright championship and reaching the NCAA tournament for the first time a year later.

Penn would win every Ivy title from 1970-75, but Carril still won the NIT in 1975 in one of the best moments in program history, back when the NIT was played completely in the Garden and when it was still a pretty big deal.

Princeton went 14-0 in the Ivy League in the 1975-76 season and won again a year later. That 1976 title started a run that saw every Princeton men's basketball class except for one win at least one Ivy League championship between then and when Carril retired in 1996.

In fact it would be more than 10 years after Carril retired that the streak would end.

It reminds TB of the men's lacrosse run. If you played men's lacrosse at Princeton in any class from 1992 through 2004, you won at least one NCAA championship.

The football team currently has such a streak going.

The announcement yesterday of the Princeton football Class of 2024 included a note that every recruit who has played for Bob Surace in his 10 years at Princeton has won at least one Ivy League championship.

That's very impressive.

That streak is guaranteed to continue through at least the Class of 2022. There is, of course, nobody in the football program who wants that to be enough, and so the goal was to put together another top recruiting class to match the ones that have preceded it.

Putting any faith in recruiting services is always risky. On the other hand, Hero Sports, a website that knows a great deal about FCS football, didn't rank the Ivy League schools in their top recruiting classes list but if it had, it would have, according to its own words, had "Princeton first by a mile."

The Tigers also have 22 of the top 500 individual players, as well as seven of the top 100.

Princeton's incoming freshman class has 31 players in it. They represent 18 states, including five from New Jersey and three from California and Texas.

The incoming class announcement featured a video put together by TB's colleague Cody Chrusciel in which Cody sat down with Surace to talk about the new players, position by position. The video includes an introduction from each player, as well as highlights from their high school careers.

You can see it HERE.

Monday, June 15, 2020

The Best of Pete Carril

TigerBlog received a comment Friday after his story about Steve Goodrich and the time that Pete Carril said that Goodrich "had good shooting range, just not very good making range."

The commenter said that when TB one day puts together the all-time greatest Pete Carril quotes, that will be on it.

Well, TB did put that list together once, and he still has it on his computer.

In fact, for today, he figured he'd share it with you, since there's some great stuff on it. He'll call it something of a guest TB.

Some are funny. Some are poignant. All of them are directly quoted from Coach and were either heard directly by TB or copied and pasted out of a newspaper or magazine story.

"What good is it if you wear a flag and play like a dog? What good is it if you put a yellow ribbon on your porch or flag on your lawn and cheat on your taxes? That young guy who was killed today, he can never be replaced. All the dreams and aspirations his family had for him, they're gone. How can there be any way to balance that except for every person in this country to do the best he can to honor that hero? Maybe it's far-fetched to think that someone on the front line is concerned whether our guys go to class, but I think that's part of what they're fighting for. That if our students don't do everything in their power to keep their commitments to their parents, they're letting the whole country down. This kid who died over there today, what are you doing in your left to make sure you're worthy of him? - February 20, 1991 on the subject of putting flags on uniforms during the Persian Gulf War.

"I'll take that up with God when I get there." - March 17, 1989, when asked if he felt that either Kit Mueller or Bob Scrabis was fouled by Alonzo Mourning in the final six seconds of Princeton's 50-49 loss to Georgetown in the NCAA Tournament.

"It's like you feel when you realize that one number knocked you out of the lottery jackpot." - September 1989, talking about the same game.

"Light bulbs, that's what I call them. Light bulbs. There's an intangible feeling a coach and a player have that you can delight in. When Armond Hill was at Princeton and he'd go up and down the court in warmups, that's excited me. Frank Sowinski walked onto the court in practice. I could be dead tired: I saw him, I felt good. Billy Omeltchenko. Craig Robinson. I call them light bulbs. They walk on the floor, the light goes on." - February 6, 1991.

"Nature is indifferent to the plight of man." - After a 1974 loss at Penn.

"Winning a national championship is not something you're going to do at Princeton. I resigned myself to that years ago. What does it mean, anyway? When I'm dead, maybe two guys will walk past my grave. And one will say to the other 'poor guy, never won a national championship.' And I won't hear a word they say." - February 3, 1990, after winning his 400th game.

"All I ever wanted since I got into coaching was to get the best from every kid I had. And I have not improved one bit in that respect. I will never be able to understand that. But that's what you stand for. A guy who gives you less than what he can give you is one, telling you what he thinks of you and two, telling you what he thinks of himself. And in both cases, it's bad. Now that's old fashioned talk, but I don't think that's ever going to change for me or for anybody." - January 19, 1982, on how his coaching philosophies had changed with time.

"Some people like General Patton. I like General Grant. The Spartan way of life isn't for everybody." - 1983.

"Passing is a lost art. Everybody makes such a federal case today about a team player because there's a scarcity of it. Greed is a reason. You have to understand the influence of greed. The great economic teachers of our time have never given consideration to greed. I once got a low grade in economics because I said there wasn't enough sociology in economics." - 1976.

"Look at all the things you have to do to win. You have to sublimate your individual greed for the sake of the team. You have to conform to certain training rules that deny you the chance of having as much fun as your friends are having, You are asked to provide total mental concentration. All those require a great deal, whereas losing requires absolutely nothing." - 1976, before Princeton played Rutgers in the NCAA Tournament.

"The hardest thing in the world to do is to do one thing particularly well for a long period of time at whatever standards you establish. Take the doctor who delivers his first baby. That's a huge thrill. Does he, 30 years later, get the same thrill. Or did Rex Harrison after 1,000 performances of My Fair Lady?" - 1986.

"I want my centers to behave like Bill Russell." - 1972.

"God blessed me the day that kid walked into my life." - 1991 on center Kit Mueller.

"If you got a C on your report card, he wouldn't let you play. He taught me that it's very important to do what you're supposed to do. When you reduce your standards, they turn around and attack you." - 1981, talking about his father's influence.

"We pass, we cut, we shoot the ball well and we look for good shots. The main thing is to get a good shot every time down the floor. If that's old fashioned than I'm guilty." - 1991.

"This is a tough school. Kids ask me how they can compete with the quality of student here. I tell them don't. You compete with yourself. It's what you do versus what you could do that counts. Life or basketball, it's all the same." - February 20, 1990.

"I think, when I'm not in this world, I'll have a nice talk with God. I'll ask, 'Why did you do this to me? Why pick me out for this? What did my grandfather do?' We've had a couple games like this. It makes you question what's going on up there." - February 6, 1990, after Penn's Hassan Duncombe tipped in a missed foul shot to steal a 51-50 win.

"I'm going to start putting Xs and Os on this board, and I'll move them around with the greatest of ease. But when you put a person in place of an X or an O, he might not be fast enough or strong enough or willing enough to get the job done. I want a kid who goes ahead and does what he knows has to be done, who doesn't give himself an excuse to fail. If a guy misses five shots in a row, will he have the intestinal fortitude to take the sixth shot? Me, I want a kid who'll take the sixth shot." - January 7, 1980.

"So much depends upon their attitudes. What kind of guys are they? Do they love to play? Do they understand what we're trying to do? Do they realize what the word 'commitment' means? Do they understand teamwork? Do they realize they have to be responsible to each other? All those things - I call them the life parts of the game - goes into it. The technical parts of the game are affected by the life parts. What kind of guy is he? Because no matter what you do, the most important thing is who's doing it. You can make almost anything work if the right guy is doing it." - October 13, 1994.

"People forget 45 seconds is an awful long time. It's hard to hold the ball that long. It's hard to hold it for 35 seconds. I voted for the 45 second clock. I'd vote for 35 seconds and I'd still play the same way. I've been playing that way for 37 years. Under 35 seconds, I wouldn't go for. Under 35, the last vestiges of cerebral aspects of the game would disappear. Without that, what's the sense of playing. There's got to be something left for the head to do." - 1989, before the shot clock was lowered to 35 seconds.

"These are tough times for a pessimist." - 1991, while Princeton was en route to a 14-0 Ivy League record and a No. 17 national ranking.

"This is one of the happiest days of my life." - March 9, 1996, after Princeton defeated Penn in the Ivy League playoff; five days later Princeton would defeat UCLA.