Monday, September 22, 2014

Opening Thoughts

TigerBlog saw a really good concert on TV Friday night - after he had gone through five episodes of "Breaking Bad," of course.

It was Imagine Dragons, one of TigerBlog Jr.'s favorites. And, TigerBlog must admit, a group he really likes as well.

TB's introduction to Imagine Dragons was when the song "It's Time" was used to promote the NCAA men's lacrosse tournament on ESPN two years ago. The group has a really strong unique sound, and some of its songs are great - including the aforementioned "It's Time," "Radioactive," "Demons" and TB's favorite, "On Top Of The World."

TigerBlog looked through the audience at the concert and didn't see too many people in his age range. Okay, none. Still, TB does like the group, and he especially likes Imagine Dragons compared to almost the rest of what passes for contemporary music.

Has TB become one of those stodgy old people who views modern music the way people who were the age he is now back in the 1960s viewed Elvis, the Beatles and the Stones?

Nah. He just thinks most of what he hears on Miss TigerBlog's stations is awful.

Anyway, when the concert was over, he flipped around and came upon "The Silence of the Lambs," which was just starting. TigerBlog once wrote this about the movie:

"TigerBlog assumes that pretty much everyone has seen it at least once, and if you have, it's left you fairly freaked out for life to a certain extent ... Anthony Hopkins' performance as Hannibal Lecter is extraordinary. It's not easy, after all, to make a cannibalistic serial killer so likeable, like the kind of person you'd want to have a meal with, well, uh, no to that actually."

He stands by that.

Every time he sees the movie, he is amazed that Hopkins is only in it for 16 minutes. He does a lot in that time, of course, to the point that he was one of the easiest Best Actor choices of all time.

Perhaps his best scene is the one in the beginning where he talks to Agent Starling for the first time. That's as far as TB got in the movie, since it was late and he didn't really want to have nightmares all night, even if it's seen the movie a millions times.

One night after Hopkins was on screen for 16 minutes in a performance that won Best Actor, Jameis Winston was on screen for eight minutes during Florida State's overtime win over Clemson.

In case you missed out on this, Winston, who won the Heisman Trophy last year, was suspended by FSU first for the first half and then for the entire game after he jumped onto a table in a public area and shouted an obscene vulgarity. Apparently, that earns a one-game suspension, whereas allegations of sexual assault and stealing crab legs merit nothing.

Clearly, Winston would not still be at Florida State if he was a regular student or even an average football player. But okay, FSU has decided that winning the national championship last year was worth the risk of what the star quarterback will do next.

Oh well. By the way, this treatment is why NFL players feel so untouchable by the rules of regular society, but that's another issue.

But why did ESPN feel the need to show so many reaction shots of him during the game that it added up to eight minutes of screen time? Why? Okay. He's happy when his team does something right. Everyone gets it.

For that matter, why would Florida State permit him on the sideline in the first place. Oh wait, the rules don't apply to him. TigerBlog forgot for a minute.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, Princeton opened its football season with a 39-29 loss to San Diego.

TigerBlog, ever the optimist, will point out that Princeton is now, after Week 1, one point ahead of its pace of a year ago, when it set the Ivy League record for points in a season. Princeton scored 28 in its opening day loss to Lehigh a year ago.

Princeton wasn't as sharp offensively against San Diego as it was for most of last year. It was a tough opener, with the long plane ride and all of the other activities around the game, as well as the most interesting issue of all: Week 1 in the Ivy League comes in Week 4 for everyone else.

How big a deal is that?

Princeton is now 0-8 in its last eight season openers, by far its worst showing in any week in that stretch.

Princeton plays non-league games in Week 1, Week 2 and Week 4. Since the start of the 2007 season, Princeton is 0-8 in Week 1, 5-2 in Week 2 and 3-4 in Week 4.

If you want to say it's a function of the opponent, consider this: Since the start of the 2007 season, Princeton is 2-4 against Lehigh - 0-4 in Week 1 games and 2-0 in games that were played in Week 2.

From 1976 through 1999, Ivy League teams opened their seasons with a league game. To say there was a lot of pressure on the opener would be an understatement.

After all, it's hard to win the league when you're 0-1 to start. History says it doesn't happen often.

Princeton, for instance, has never done it, never won the Ivy title after losing its first Ivy game.

So the decision was made to play a non-league game first. In Princeton's case, it's the first two weeks.

And that's always going to be a disadvantage. Teams are much sharper in Week 2 than Week 1 and much fitter in Weeks 3 and 4 than in Week 1. It's just how it is. 

This year, Davidson comes to Powers Field at Princeton Stadium for the home opener, this Saturday at 6. There will be fireworks after the game, by the way.

What does the opening day loss mean? In the long run, not much, other than the chance to go 10-0 is gone. But hey, that's getting way ahead of things anyway.

The goals are the same every year. Win the Ivy title. Get a bonfire for beating Harvard and Yale.

The goal of an opening day win? That will have to wait until next year, at Lafayette.

Princeton has won three straight against the Leopards, just none of them in Week 1.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Opening Out West

TigerBlog starts his Friday with a good trivia question: Name the only six teams Princeton has opened its football season with in the last 60 years?

This doesn't count San Diego, whom Princeton opens with tomorrow at 4 pm Eastern time.

So go back 60 years and come up with the six teams. TigerBlog will give you a few paragraphs to come up with it, as always.

In the meantime, here's something TigerBlog has been meaning to share since he first read it a week or two ago. It's a link to John McPhee's story in "The New Yorker" about his experiences growing up around Princeton football, and, like everything by John McPhee, it's well worth your time to read it.

So click HERE to read it.

The 2014 season will be Princeton's 17th in Princeton Stadium. It spent 83 in Palmer Stadium. That means that it's been 100 years since Palmer Stadium opened.

In fact, Game 1 in Palmer Stadium was played on Oct. 24, 1914, which means that this year's Harvard game will be one day after the 100th anniversary of the day the old stadium opened.

TigerBlog spent a lot of Saturdays in Palmer Stadium, all at the end of its long life as the home of Princeton football. He has nice memories of the place, even if it was a zero frills building by the end. Or, for that matter, in the begining, TB assumes.

Mr. McPhee has a much stronger connection to Palmer Stadium than TigerBlog does. Much, more stronger.

His father was the team physician for Princeton football (and the U.S. Olympic team at one point). John McPhee grew up around Princeton football, with access to the players, coaches and program that any little kid at the time would have loved. It comes out in his recent magazine piece, and it makes TigerBlog think about what Palmer Stadium must have been all about way back when.

Any picture that TigerBlog has seen of Palmer Stadium from those times was in black and white, obviously, yet it was a world of color back then as well. What did it look like on game day?

And how did Princeton distribute tickets back then? Were there event meetings like the ones that TB goes to every Tuesday?

Anyway, the answer to the trivia question is this: Lehigh, Lafayette, Rutgers, Dartmouth, Cornell and the Citadel.

TigerBlog only got five of them right when he was asked. He completely forgot the games against the Citadel.

The 2014 opener is in California, against a San Diego team that is 1-1, with a win over Western New Mexico and a loss to Jacksonville.

Princeton left yesterday afternoon on a charter flight from Philadelphia to San Diego. It's an exciting trip for the players, and it's a logistical challenge for those who had to put it together.

Still, it's a great experience all around.

Princeton comes home for its first game on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium next Saturday, when it hosts Davidson at 6. There are fireworks after the game.

This is expected to be a season of fireworks, both the literal kind after the first home game and the figurative kind on the field during games. Princeton has the bulk of its offense back after last year's explosion of points and yards, both of which set Ivy League records.

The leader of the show is Quinn Epperly, the reigning Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year who is back for his senior year as Princeton's quarterback. Or, more precisely, one of Princeton's quarterbacks.

Princeton's scheme is built around using multiple quarterbacks at the same time. And multiple running backs. And multiple receivers.

Princeton went 8-2 a year ago, losing its opener (to Lehigh) and its finale (in the snow at Dartmouth) and winning eight straight in between. Princeton reached at least 50 points five times in those eight games; Princeton didn't reach 50 points five times going back, oh, pretty much to the time that John McPhee was a kid.

The big win last year was a 51-48 win over Harvard, the team that Princeton would tie for the league championship. This year, those two are picked to finish 1-2 in the league, and they got every first- and second-place vote in the preseason poll.

It's been awhile since Princeton has gone into a football season with so much, well, let's call it cautious optimism. It has depth. It has speed. It has size. It has experience. It has newcomers pushing to get on the field. It has an established coaching staff and system. It's bigger than any single one of its players, including Epperly.

It has its question marks. Princeton sent two defensive linemen to the NFL in two years and has some rebuilding to do on that side of the ball. The rest of the league has had a year to figure out the multi-quarterback sets; will that make a difference?

Still, there is a lot to be excited about as 2014 kicks off, even if it is 3,000 miles away.

It's the start of 10 games in 10 weeks. It's been a long wait. Now the sprint begins.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

200 National Champs, Or Is That 202?

TigerBlog was in a meeting the other day when the question of Princeton's all-time national champions came up.

Actually, questions. As in, how many? What sports? Who has the most? All of it.

Princeton has won its share of national championships. More, actually.

As you probably know, Princeton has had at least one team or individual win a national championship in each of the 43 years. Julia Ratcliffe somewhat dramatically kept the streak alive last year, winning the NCAA women's hammer throw at the final event of the athletic year.

When TigerBlog started working here, he saw someplace that said that Princeton had a long streak of producing a national champion. He didn't, however, see the list of the national champions during that streak.

At some point, he decided he'd put together the list - and he found that it actually ran 12 years longer than he thought it did. Now it's up to 43 straight, thanks to Ratcliffe.

And TigerBlog can prove it. Click HERE and scroll to the bottom.

So that's the last 43 years.

As for all time? Well, that's not as clear cut, though it is possible that Ratcliffe's championship this past spring was also a huge milestone, in addition to one that kept a big streak alive.

TigerBlog went through and added up all of Princeton's all-time national championships, team and individual. He found four teams with at least 20; he will give you a few paragraphs to guess the four.

In the meantime, there's a little issue with men's hockey national championships. As in, Princeton doesn't claim any.

Harvard, of all places, credits Princeton with two during the Hobey Baker years. Yale claims national hockey championships during that era, suggesting that perhaps there was a champion crowned.

TB is working on this one.

Okay, as for the four teams with at least 20? That would be football (with 28), women's squash (26), men's squash (24), men's swimming and diving (22). This includes team and individual for the last three.

Yeah, yeah, TigerBlog gets it. The 28 national championships in football that Princeton won aren't quite the same as winning, say, the BCS championship or something. But they're national titles nonetheless.

Not counting the men's hockey issue, TigerBlog has come up with 200 national championships all time at Princeton. In other words, if men's hockey never won a national title, then the one that Ratcliffe won was the 200th in school history.

Oh, and of those 200, the breakdown is 111 team and 89 individual. Or 113 team and 89 individual, if you count hockey.

Of course, this does not translate to 200 NCAA championships. Or 202.

Does anyone remember the AIAW, which stood for the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women?

The AIAW was founded in 1971 as the governing body of women's athletics on the college level, and it was the AIAW - not the NCAA - which ran the national championship events for the women's teams. This lasted until the early 1980s, when the NCAA basically obliterated the AIAW.

TigerBlog isn't sure how the compliance end of the AIAW worked, compared with NCAA rules and regulations. And it's not on Wikipedia, so he may never find out.

Princeton won six AIAW championships in swimming, including four individual ones by Cathy Corcione. One of TigerBlog's favorite Princeton stories is how six swimmers from Princeton went to the 1973 AIAW national meet and ended up finishing third in the country, helped along by Corcione's two individual wins and her leg on the winning 200 free relay team, along with teammates Jane Fremon, Barb Franks, and Carol Brown. All three of Princeton's champs set national records at that meet.

Corcione won two more events the following year, taking both the 100 IM and 200 IM. The most recent Princeton national championship in women's swimming came in the 1982 AIAW meet - the last one - when Diana Caskey, Ann Heusner, Liz Richardson and Betsy Lind won the 800 free relay.

Some sports still don't compete for NCAA titles, such as squash and men's rowing. Others won national titles in sports before there was an NCAA to award them, or before there was an NCAA tournament to crown the championship.

Men's lacrosse, for instance, has won 12 national championships. Of the 12, two were before the formation of the NCAA (which was in 1906) and four others were when the national champion was voted on. The remaining six were by virtue of winning the actual NCAA tournament.

Anyway, here's the list, sport by sport. Where you see a "x/y," that is "team/individual champions."

And if Julia's was No. 200, that's even cooler.

If Princeton won the two hockey championships, by the way, then the 200th would have Eliza Stone's individual fencing championship in 2013.

Football – 28
Women’s squash – 26 (17/9)
Men’s squash – 24 (10/14)
Men’s swimming and diving – 22 (0/22)
Mens’ golf – 19 (12/7)
Fencing – 14 (2/12)
Men’s lax – 12
Men’s tennis – 10 (0/10)
Women’s open rowing - 10
Men’s lightweight rowing - 8
Men’s track and field – 7 (0/7)
Women’s swimming and diving – 6 (0/6)
Women’s lightweight rowing – 5
Women’s lax – 3
Men’s heavyweight rowing – 3
Wrestling – 1 (0/1)
Field Hockey – 1
Women’s Track and Field – 1 (0/1)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Soccer Trumps Meth For A Night

TigerBlog can't imagine which storylines were passed over before the AMC executive stopped and shouted "this is the winner" when he got to "underachieving high school chemistry teacher finds out he has terminal cancer, turns to cooking crystal meth to make money for his family for after he dies."

Anyway, that's the basic plot of "Breaking Bad," a show to whose party TigerBlog has been very late getting to, though now that he's here, he figures he'll stay til the end.

"Breaking Bad" ran for five seasons and 65 episodes on AMC before coming to a close almost exactly one year ago. TigerBlog never got into it, for whatever reason.

Maybe it's the premise. It's not that Walter White couldn't or wouldn't become a great meth cooker. It's not that he wouldn't be too concerned about getting caught.

It's that you have to assume that he doesn't care about the people who ultimately take the stuff he makes and what it does to them and to society. That's sort of a hard thing to overlook.

As an aside, in a great moment of irony, TigerBlog just got an email announcing the University's new chemistry website: TigerBlog hopes that all who learn there use that knowledge for good, and not how Walter White used it.

Or at least uses it through the middle of Season 2, which is as far as TB has gotten to date. It's the new way to watch a show. All 65 episodes are out there, just waiting to be watched, whenever TB has the time.

With Season 4 of "Homeland" coming up, TB is debating not watching it until it's all aired and then going with all 12 episodes in a week or so.

Meanwhile, back at "Breaking Bad," the show has some great characters, beginning with Walter and Jesse and continuing especially with Hank, the brother-in-law in the DEA. He's not just a cop. He's in the DEA. That was a great touch by someone. Anyway, Hank is a great, great character.

Hank's wife Marie is another great character. Skyler, Walter's wife, is very, very good; the son, Walter Jr., brings little to the table so far. There have also been some great fringe characters as well.

There are also some hysterically funny moments, as well as some that make you close your eyes and look away. So far, TigerBlog gets why so many people loved the show.

TB won't be watching much of it tonight, not with Princeton men's soccer on ESPNU against 13th-ranked Georgetown at 7. The game will be played on Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium, and admission is free.

Georgetown has become a soccer power. The Hoyas were the NCAA runner-up two years ago, and last year they were the sixth-seed in the NCAA tournament before losing in the Round of 16 to No. 11 Michigan State.

Princeton is 1-1-1 on the season; Georgetown is 2-1-3, though their three ties are against the No. 5, No. 6 and No. 14 teams in the country. Princeton has gone from loss to tie to win in its first three games.

If you're quick, you noticed that Georgetown has played twice as many games as Princeton, and yet the Tigers have scored almost as many goals as the Hoyas, trailing just 9-7.

And Princeton's total of seven goals in three games includes one 0-0 tie. Of course, the goal total was helped considerably by a five-goal outburst against Seton Hall in a 5-4 win Sunday.

Princeton is playing its third straight Big East opponent, or at least TB thinks that it's the third-straight Big East opponent, if Seton Hall, St. John's and Georgetown are all still in the Big East.

After tonight, there are still three more non-league games (against Boston University, Drexel and Binghamton - TB is guessing Patriot League, CAA and America East) before the Tigers play Dartmouth (definitely in the Ivy League; TB is sure of it).

For tonight, it's a chance to take on a national contender at home - and on national TV to boot. The TV truck has been parked on the gravel road by the tennis courts and 1952 Stadium all week, as the Princeton women's 2-1 win over Villanova was also on ESPNU.

That begs the question - when was the last time ESPNU did consecutive games by one school's women's soccer team and then men's soccer team. It can't happen too often.

Anyway, it's going to be another perfect weather night in Princeton. There is no excuse not to either be there or to watch it on TV.

For TigerBlog, he can hold off on the crystal meth for a night.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Boycotting At Bedford

There's a really disturbing point that can be taken from this awful little stretch that the NFL is currently experiencing, and it's really not about child abuse, domestic abuse or even that a recent study showed that one in three former players can expect to suffer from dementia.


It's that for the most part, nobody really cares about any of that. They just want to watch football. NFL football, for that matter. They can't get enough of it.

Want proof? Just a few days after a video surfaced that showed Ray Rice's devastating knockout of his then-fiance and now-wife in an Atlantic City hotel elevator, the Ravens-Steelers game drew CBS' highest Thursday night rating in forever.

The NFL is in a freefall. Do you really think that Rice is the only one who has hit a woman in the last few weeks? No, he's the only one caught on video.

Do you think that Peterson is the only one who is hitting a child because he himself was hit - "whooped" - when he was a kid?

How many NFL players right now are exhaling because there was no video or no indictment or damning text messages of when they committed their offense?

And that doesn't even take into account the "Gladiator" factor, that this is essentially watching participants who could be killing themselves by playing this sport. Maybe not right there and then, but eventually.

And nobody cares. They just keep watching. In huge numbers. Not just that, but look how many people wore Ray Rice jerseys and Adrian Peterson jerseys this week.

What would it take for people to stop watching?

Oh, and do you really think Roger Goodell is in trouble for his job? Not right now he's not. You know when he'll be in trouble? When the owners lose their first dollar because of something directly relatable to him.

That's when.

Until then, he's the one who prints the money for the owners, and that's all they care about.

TigerBlog used to love the NFL, used to count down the weeks til opening kickoff. Now? Not so much.

He used to watch a lot of Major League Baseball too, and hasn't watched nine innings all year. But that's more of a lacrosse-baseball thing now. He's not getting to be appalled by baseball.

But football? NFL football especially? It's getting harder and harder for TigerBlog. Through two weeks of this season he's watched next to none of the NFL.

Are there more like him? Hardly.

TB bailed on Sunday's games. Instead, he headed to Bedford Field to watch Princeton field hockey against Bucknell in the home opener.

Call it Boycotting at Bedford.

The game was a pretty even one, and Bucknell scored in the 7-on-7 overtime for the only goal of the day in a 1-0 win. The loss dropped Princeton to 0-4, but all four games have been against top teams, including three in the top eight nationally.

Princeton is two years removed from the NCAA championship and one year removed from the NCAA quarterfinals. The Tigers have graduated, among others, Katie and Julia Reinprecht, Michelle Cesan and Kat Sharkey in the last two years. That's a lot to overcome.

On the other hand, Princeton field hockey has won 19 of the last 20 Ivy League championships, and a case can be made that it is year after year the most successful single program in Ivy athletics. The one year it didn't win the Ivy League, it lost on a penalty corner after time had expired - corners are played out if the whistle blows before the clock gets to all zeroes - on the final day of the season.

Bedford Field is now completed. It has perfect artificial turf. It has bleachers that face the access road and make the facility look pristine, especially at night. It's a great place to watch a game.

As an aside, when TigerBlog first got there, assistant coach Mike Palister went to the scorer's table and asked if anyone had hand sanitizer. That's a silly question - TigerBlog is never without it.

TigerBlog watches a lot of field hockey these days, especially the high school junior varsity variety. He saw a game yesterday that ended up 0-0 without a shot taken by either team, largely because it was played on a field where the grass needed to be cut much tighter than it had been.

Field hockey on turf, on the college level, is a different game. It's fast-paced. The ball rockets off of sticks. It's non-stop. It has quick restarts. There is no offsides.

Yes, Princeton would lose this one, but it was still a well-played, entertaining game.

Up next is Dartmouth Saturday. Two years ago, Dartmouth was the only team in the league to score a goal against Princeton, and that came in a 4-1 Princeton win.

This is the first Ivy event of the year for Princeton, and the start of the chase for the 20th title in 21 years.

It's worth going to see. There is no admission charge. The venue is great. The game is exciting.

A few hundred will be there.

Millions and millions will watch college football that day and then even more will watch the NFL the next day.

It's just how it is. Football is king. TigerBlog doesn't really understand why that is, though. 

And he wonders if it will always be that way.

Monday, September 15, 2014

All-Access: Training Camp

If you're a Princeton fan, watch this video ... then come back and read the rest ... or read first, watch second ... CLICK HERE

TigerBlog sat down on his couch at about 1:15 Saturday afternoon and flipped on the TV.

Then he started counting the number of college football games that were on at that moment. He made it all the way to 11 - and he doesn't have any premium sports channels, which would have pushed that total into the 20s. And then there is ESPN3, which would push that number twice as high probably.

That's a lot of competition for the viewer. And for the consumer, for that matter, since why buy a ticket and go through the hassle of going to a game when there are so many options available on TV and online?

That's the reality of the matter for those who are hoping to get consumers to buy tickets, and it's being felt on every level of the sporting world.

Then there's the oversaturation issue. TigerBlog couldn't decide what game to watch. Nothing was leaping out at him. Ohio State vs. Kent State? Bowling Green vs. Indiana? East Carolina vs. Virginia Tech? Pitt vs. Florida International? UConn vs. Bowling Green? Maryland vs. West Virginia? Syracuse vs. Central Michigan? There were others too.

As it turned out, some of these games were great. TigerBlog didn't stay with any of them though. He watched another "Breaking Bad," which he's getting into, even as he's overwhelmed by how many episodes there are.

On the other hand, "Breaking Bad" was made to run on commercial TV in a one-hour time-slot, whereas on Netflix they're in 45-48 minute blocks without commercials. Still, TB still has 53 episodes to go. According to TigerBlog Jr., TB should be done with that in about three weeks.

Meanwhile, back at college football, TigerBlog didn't really feel strongly about any of the games that were on early. He roots for East Carolina out of loyalty to Scott Jurgens, the former marketing director here and there who is currently at Montana State, for whom he also now roots.

There were two games he was really interested in Saturday.

First was Georgia vs. South Carolina. TigerBlog roots for Georgia, because the guy whom Andi picked on "The Bachelorette" this past season was the brother of Georgia's quarterback last year - or maybe it's actually because MotherBlog lived in Georgia before she passed away and rooted for the Bulldogs.

If you didn't see this game, South Carolina won by virtue of the closest measurement in recorded history on a fourth-and-inches near midfield with 1:20 or so to play.

The other game was Rutgers-Penn State, which started at 8. TigerBlog saw the beginning and end and listened to some of the middle on the radio. To say that the Rutgers radio team is a bit homerish would be quite the understatement. TigerBlog's favorite part was when Ray Lucas called one of the refs a "clown" for his spot on a third-down, even as his partner Chris Carlin was saying how it was a good call after watching the replay.

Anyway, two things about that game. First, Rutgers Stadium looked unbelievable on television. It was jammed with more than 53,000 fans, almost all in scarlet. Second, it was an excruciating loss for Rutgers, which won't have too many better chances at a Big Ten win this year.

The question TigerBlog heard the most this weekend was "how did Princeton do today?" The answer was "Princeton hasn't played yet."

That changes this Saturday in San Diego, where the Tigers open the season at 4 Eastern. You can hear it on WPRB FM 103.3 with Dan Loney and Craig Sachson; those two will do the away games this year, while it'll be Loney and Dave Giancola on the home games.

The Tigers - and the rest of the Ivy League - can't wait for Saturday to get here fast enough. It's been a long wait, as it always is, with not only the start of the college football season but also the start of the season for every other Ivy sport.

For the football players, it's now a 10 game, 10 week sprint.

If you want to know what it takes to get ready for that sprint, then there's a video today on that chronicles just that. It's All-Access, Football Training Camp.

The video, done by Princeton cinematographer John Bullis, follows the Princeton football team around a few days of its camp. It includes footage from meetings, practices, team gatherings and other activities, as well as interviews with Max Lescano, John Hill and Connor Kelley.

The piece is 19 minutes or so, and worth every second.

The "All-Access" series that Bullis has done here started last winter and spring. It will continue this fall. They're excellent pieces, and they do an outstanding job of showing what the experience is like for the Princeton athlete. Women's volleyball is coming next.

The football one is little longer, but make sure you check it out.

And then get ready for kickoff Saturday, and for the nine that follow. Princeton is the defending champ and preseason pick to win again.

Let's find out how it goes.

Friday, September 12, 2014


This was always the week that TigerBlog thought was the toughest for the Princeton football team.

The newness of training camp is over. Classes have started. Every other fall sport is playing. The rest of the football-playing universe started its season weeks ago.

And yet the Ivy League has one more week to go until kickoff.

TigerBlog used to love the 10-games, 10-weeks Ivy football schedule. Now, TigerBlog would love to see the season start this week and have all eight teams take Week 6 off. Play five games. Take a week off. Play five more games.

Maybe it'll come to be one day. Maybe not.

It won't be this year, when Ivy football is still off this week. And if you're an Ivy football player, you can't wait to get going, only to be faced with one more weekend of watching on TV.

By next week, it won't matter. Princeton will be at San Diego in its opener, and away it'll go. In the blink of an eye, it'll be Halloween and the Ivy race will be reaching the top of the stretch.

For this weekend, there is no Ivy football.

There is home field hockey Sunday at 1 against Bucknell, after the Tigers are at Penn State today. And the women's soccer team is at La Salle tonight and then home Sunday against Villanova at 4, in a game that can be seen on ESPNU.

Other than that, everyone else is on the road this weekend. And by everyone, TigerBlog means women's tennis, women's volleyball, men's soccer, men's cross country, women's cross country and men's water polo.

Looking for updates for all those events? Well, you can do what you usually do. Get them from Twitter.

Starting today though, Princeton Athletics will be trying something a little different.

Starting today, Princeton Athletics introduces @putigers_live, a second official athletic department Twitter feed.

That's @putigers_live. An offshoot of the original Twitter feed, @putigers. The logic is to have one feed for in-game updates and another for everything else.

Princeton has a busy weekend coming up. It's nothing compared to what happens in the winter and spring - and especially when the fall and winter or winter and spring overlap.

On those Saturdays, there can be nearly 20 events. That's a lot of updated on one Twitter account, and TigerBlog's fear is that it overwhelms people who aren't looking for those updates, to the point where they simply unfollow to get rid of the traffic.

The solution is one feed for updates only.

The problem, of course, is that everyone who is expecting updates on @putigers needs to now follow @putigers_live. The hope is not to the audience in the transition.

As for the original @putigers, there will be additional content coming to that feed as the fall goes along.

It's incredible what Twitter - and all of social media - have become. TigerBlog loves the 3,000-word feature, but there is a lot to be said for the 140-character format. Yes, it speaks volumes about the world's current lack of a real attention span.

But yes, it's a great way to get the message directly to those who want it. And yes, there is a huge thirst for creative content.

That's the new challenge in athletic communications. Stay current on technology. Always come up with newer, interesting content. There's a lot more going on than just keeping stats at games.

It always brings TigerBlog back to the same place, which is how much the business has changed since he first got into it and where is it going from here.

TigerBlog remembers when livestats first came along, and he thought to himself "who is going to sit in front of a computer all afternoon following a game." At the time, that's all there was. A computer.

Now? There are smart phones and tablets and who knows what's coming next. The need to provide immediate - and easy to find - updates is a primary function in athletics on all levels.

TigerBlog gets frustrated when he can't find out scores from high school games when he wants them, but he gets why he can't. On the college and pro level? That's unacceptable.

Princeton has done a very good job of getting scores out to those who want them.

TB hopes @putigers_live will be the next step in making that effort even better for Princeton fans.

So go and follow it. And get all your updates there. And check out @putigers for the rest.

And have a good weekend.

It's the last one without Princeton football.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Day To Remember

Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium opened as the home of Princeton men's and women's soccer in 2008.

From that beginning until four days ago, there had been five 0-0 ties played at the facility. Of those, four were played by the women - one each in 2008, 2009, 2010 and last year. The only men's 0-0 tie there was also in 2008.

Then this week rolled around, and the women played a 0-0 tie Monday against Seton Hall and the men followed with a 0-0 tie against St. John's last night. These were the first consecutive 0-0 ties at Roberts Stadium ever.

Given that the Rutgers women scored with 0.1 seconds remaining against Princeton in the game prior to the back-to-back 0-0s, the scoreless streak there is now 220:00.1.

The next two games that will be played at Roberts will be televised by ESPNU, beginning Sunday at 4 against Villanova for the women and then continuing with the men's game Wednesday against Georgetown.

It'll be a great showcase for the facility, which is an incredible place to watch soccer.

Today, though, can't be about Princeton soccer. Or Princeton Athletics, for that matter.

It can't be about Ray Rice, even as the whole thing gets uglier, with a report that the NFL did in fact have a copy of the video inside the elevator, whether or not Roger Goodell has to go and with the social media post by Janay Rice, in which she rather directly ripped into those who have been critical of her husband, which begs so many more questions about her mental state, the nature of physically abusive relationships, whether or not this was a one-time moment or a chronic problem. It even goes to the issue of modern-day media and social media and the instant analysis and commentary that pops up everywhere, regardless of any qualification on the part of the commentator.

But hey, today can't be about that either.

It can't be about Oscar Pistorius, and whether or not he's about to get away with murder.

Not today.

No, today can only be about one thing.


Today is Sept. 11 - 9/11. Nothing else matters today other than remembering what happened on this day in 2001.

It was on that day that Islamic terrorists changed the world forever and brought real terror to this country. It was on that day when four commercial airplanes, filled with innocent people of all religions, were hijacked.

Two of them were flown into the World Trade Center's twin towers, killing more innocents, of all religions. Another crashed into the Pentagon, with more deaths. The fourth was heroically overtaken by the passengers and crashed into a field in Western Pennsylvania, before it could hit its target, which was either the White House or the Capitol building.

In all, 2,977 innocent people were killed that day. And the United States was changed forever.

It's been 13 years since that day. So many events have transpired, with so many more deaths since.

And yet for all that, even now, there are those out there who are plotting the next attack. Some of them are doing so rather brazenly. The world is not a safe place right now.

This country has not been immune to terrorism since that day 13 years ago, though on a much smaller scale. Is the day coming when another attack of the same magnitude - or greater - arrives here?

TigerBlog hopes not. But if it doesn't, it won't because the bad guys aren't trying. It'll be because the good guys stop them.

That's the threat that the world faces now.

But even that isn't what today is about. Today is about remembering, as painful as that is.

This wasn't a movie. This wasn't something that got wrapped up neatly. This was a day that America was beaten and beaten badly - and yet it was a day of such unimaginable courage and fortitude that that even if it was physically tattered, the spirit of America - and especially New York City - was on full display, for the entire world to see.

TigerBlog knows so many people who were in New York that morning, or arriving at Newark Airport at around the same time. He knows former Princeton athletes who were in the Twin Towers that morning - one of whom, former men's lacrosse player John Schroeder - who was among those killed.

Schroeder was a St. Anthony's product from Long Island, and he was a member of the 1992 NCAA championship team. TigerBlog didn't know him well, but he thinks of his memory every year on this day.

TigerBlog was dropping off TigerBlog Jr. at the nursery school across from the Jadwin parking lot, after taking Miss TigerBlog to her babysitter that morning. He was told by a woman who worked at the nursery school about a plane that had flown in the World Trade Center, and when he went outside and looked up, he saw the most perfect, crystal-clear blue sky he's ever seen. No way, he thought, was this any kind of accident.

Of course, it wasn't. TB remembers being here all day, with everyone crowded around the only TV around at that time, one in the training room in Caldwell Field House. He remembers looking for information anywhere it could be found.

He remembers trying to get in touch with FatherBlog, whose office is in midtown, a relatively safe distance from Ground Zero and yet not really.

He remembers going back in the afternoon to pick up his kids and seeing TBJ and a few others on a swing, unaware of the significance of that day on their world, their childhoods.

That night, TigerBlog stood on his driveway and looked up to the clear sky. He saw stars everywhere, but no airplanes. They'd all been grounded. It was so calm, and yet so uneasy and unnerving, all at once.

TigerBlog was convinced that the next attack was on its way, in much the same way that people must have felt after Pearl Harbor, that there was another attack on Hawaii or even the mainland right behind the first one.

The night before the 13th anniversary of 9/11, TigerBlog was at the men's soccer game. At one point, a faint orange light appeared in the trees beyond the field. In what seemed like no time, that light became bigger and brighter as it rose above the trees, a beautiful moon on another beautiful evening.

The moon eventually went through some hazy clouds and then eventually stood watch over the field. It was a moment of serenity, of peacefulness.

But serenity and peace these days aren't what they were before the events of 13 years ago today.

America can try to hide from that fact, hide in the new iPhone, hide in reality TV, hide in the outrage over a football player who punched out his then-fiance and how a billion dollar enterprise has tried to make it go away as smoothly as possible, hide in whatever other diversion it wants.

It can't, though. It's there. It's not going away.

Remember what happened. Remember all of those who died, many of whom lived within a 50 or so mile radius of Princeton University. Think about the children who lost parents. Think about those who ran into the burning buildings and didn't come out. Think of the ones who lost their lives years later from the toxic mess that they cleaned up.

Think about it all.

And think about the threat that is still out there.

Never forget any of what happened not far from here 13 years ago today. Never.

Maybe one day, there will be real peace in this world. Whatever peace there had been, it was shattered on this day, in 2001.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

School Is In Session

TigerBlog was minding his own business yesterday when all of the sudden his windshield cracked.

It was a tad scary, followed by a tad annoying. After all, the car is less than a half-year old.

TigerBlog's old car, which is currently being used by TigerBlog Jr., had a cracked windshield. Actually it still does. TigerBlog cracked it in the middle of winter, maybe four or five years ago. The windshield wiper was frozen to the windshield, and when TB pulled it up, it snapped off, and the metal part cracked the windshield.

That crack was in an upside-down U shape. It never got any bigger or smaller, never changed in any way. So TigerBlog just left it as is.

This one? Forget it. First of all, TigerBlog doesn't remember having anything hit the glass. It just cracked. And like that, it made its way across the windshield, stretching from one corner out to the middle, and then up and down.

It looks like a smartphone after it's been dropped and cracks. Anyway, TigerBlog's morning will be spent trying to rectify the problem.

The morning of Princeton's student population will be spent in school. Today is the first day of classes.

TB remembers his first day of classes at Penn. His freshman dorm was in the Quad, the huge conglomeration of dorms that you'd see if you walked up Spruce Street past the hospital.

That morning a long, long time ago, he walked down Spruce to the Art Museum, across the street from Franklin Field, for his first ever college class, a political science class. All he remembers about it was that the professor was really dry.

But he does remember what happened before the class. There was construction going on on Spruce Street around 34th, and TB definitely remembers the smell of the tar they were using to fix the road. Like it was yesterday.

It wasn't quite yesterday, but two days ago, when he walked from Jadwin Gym to McCosh 50 for freshman student-athlete orientation. When he got closer to McCosh, he saw that the entryway that he normally would use was closed off, and he could smell that same tarry smell that he smelled all those years ago at Penn.

It must have been an omen for the start of classes, even if most of the parents of the current group of freshmen probably didn't even know each other yet when TB first smelled the pre-college tar.

TigerBlog has written basically every year about how much he loves to look around at freshman athlete orientation and wonder what's in store for all of them.

And he loves to project ahead to the senior awards banquet nearly four years away and wonder which of them will walk away with the biggest prizes, for having the best careers here.

They're all at the start of their road here, the members of the Class of 2018. Athletically, and starting today, academically.

It's that balance that led them to Princeton in the first place.

It was a big day for the school yesterday, when the U.S. News and World Report rankings came out, and Princeton was again ranked No. 1. It's easy for TB to take it for granted that this is the No. 1 university in the country and one of the very, very best in the world, since he's here every day.

But the truth is that there aren't many places like Princeton anywhere. And those who come here to compete are brought here by that combination of education and athletics. They want to be challenged in both arenas, and they come here for that reason.

When kids are little, they all basically start in the same place - kindergarten and youth soccer. From that beginning, some kids grow up to become super students. Others become super athletes.

Very few become both.

If you think of those two groups as a graph, then the intersection of the top of the two is a very, very small subset of the whole. That intersection is here, at Princeton.

It's not something that too many get the opportunity to experience. TigerBlog certainly didn't.

To those who are now starting down the path of navigating Princeton as students and athletes, TigerBlog wishes you the best of luck.

He also hopes that you appreciate how unique you are and what an incredible opportunity you have. And how there are thousands and thousands of others who would trade places with you in a heartbeat.

So today, school is in session. There's men's soccer at home tonight against St. John's. TigerBlog hopes to be there, if his new windshield cooperates.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Caught On Tape

Ray Rice is one of the luckiest people on Earth right now.

Huh? Yeah. The former Baltimore Ravens running back is lucky - very, very lucky. How so? He's lucky that he didn't kill his then-fiance, now-wife Janay when he knocked her out in an elevator in Atlantic City.

If you write about sports every day, like TigerBlog does, then you can't really start anywhere else today than with Ray Rice.

You have to want to say what you're thinking about this whole situation, and to TigerBlog, this is what he's thinking: Ray Rice got what he deserved, but nobody really comes out of this looking very good.

The NFL? If the league had been interested in doing what was right, it would have banned him nearly immediately after the first video was released. If you didn't see the two videos - the one where Rice drags his now-wife Janay out of the elevator and the one where he knocks her out in the elevator that came out yesterday - then go find them or simply take TB's word for it.

They're reprehensible. They're worse than that actually.

They're scary.

As TB said, Rice deserved to be released by the Ravens, and he has no one to blame but himself for the fact that he's suspended indefinitely. Does TigerBlog think he'll get another chance in the NFL? Yes. If a team thinks he can help. After all, there are players who killed people and still got another chance in the NFL.

And Rice's case did lead to a revamping of the league's rules dealing with domestic abuse, making them much stricter. But why?

Because Rice's original penalty was a two-game suspension. Did the NFL change the penalties because it was the right thing to do or because of the backlash of the way Rice got off easy - and how Josh Gordon of the Browns was suspended an entire season for smoking pot?

Oh, and the two-game suspension came after the first videotape surfaced. Two games? Remember, this was after the NFL saw the first video.

The NFL claimed it had not seen the video from the inside of the elevator until yesterday. This begs a few questions: 1) is that really true and 2) how did TMZ come up with it but the NFL couldn't.

But even beyond that, what did Roger Goodell think happened in the elevator. TigerBlog didn't need to see the video inside the elevator to figure out that Rice had to have hit her really hard. After all, she was out - almost lifeless - when the video outside the elevator starts. How did she get that way?

As Dustin Hoffman said in "All the President's Men," "if you go to bed and there's no snow and you wake up and there's snow on the ground, you can conclude it snowed."

And if you want to really be skeeved out by something here, try the Ravens and their Ray-Rice-Rehab PR efforts after the first video and before the second. Included in this: 1) a tweet saying that Janay had apologized for her role in this, 2) a reference to how much the Ravens' fans love Ray Rice and 3) a story on the team's official website from a team VP about "how much I like Ray Rice."

Who thought any of this was a good idea?

So the axe fell on Rice yesterday. TB wonders if it would have had he averaged 5.1 yards per carry last year, instead of 3.1 He wonders if he'd be suspended had the league not had a PR nightmare after its first weak suspension.

And then there's the owner of the Hawks, who announced he'd be selling his controlling interest in the team after it came out that he had made some comments about the team's desire to attract more white fans than black fans.

When the whole Donald Sterling story broke, TigerBlog wrote this:
TigerBlog wonders how many of the people who jumped all over Sterling did so in a "look at how offended I am by this; doesn't this make me enlightened" way would want all of their private conversations to suddenly become public, to have everything that they've said that they thought no one would ever hear be everywhere.
Is it possible that Donald Sterling is the only NBA owner or pro sports owner who ever privately said anything that would destroy his/her career? TB can't believe that's the case. How can it be, with primarily white billionaires who employ primarily black multimillionaires. TB can't begin to image what these billionaires have said in private.

And that's sort of what happened. But not really.

TigerBlog doesn't think the comments the Hawks owner (TB is too lazy to look up his name right now) were racist. He thinks they were racial, and any racial comments put the commentator in a minefield. These comments were more business than anything else, and they were offensive in the way that it showed that every single person was viewed solely for their dollar value. But hey, it's business.

Yesterday was freshman student-athlete orientation at Princeton. It's another hour of orientation for the incoming freshmen in a week of orientations. Today is new employee orientation.

TigerBlog didn't have a speaking role yesterday. He does this morning.

What he will tell the new employees is the same thing he would have told the freshmen athletes, and that is to understand that the times in which they live and now find themselves on this campus under the umbrella of Princeton Athletics are ones where everything should be assumed to be recorded, videotaped and available to show up anywhere at any time.

There's no way to get away from it. And they need to understand the possible ramifications.

Ray Rice couldn't talk his way out of what appears on the video. There's not one thing he could possibly say. Judge. Jury. Done. There is no defense.

The last thing you want to be is in the position of having to face the music with an unforgiving video or audiotape. That's it these days. There's no way around it.

The solution is to make good decisions at all times, and then there's nothing to worry about.

Otherwise, there's plenty to worry about. It's just how the world is these days.

Everything is public - and permanent.