Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The New GoPrincetonTigers.Com

TigerBlog isn't sure exactly when "signs" was deemed no longer expressive enough and had to be replaced by "signage," or when "the flu" was upgraded to "flu-like symptoms." There's a whole list of phrases that are standard issue these days that nobody ever said a few years ago, and TB isn't sure why perfectly good phraseology that lasted ever since the first caveman carved an arrow on a stone to point the other cavemen away from the lions and mumbled "sign" is no longer acceptable.

As an aside, the dictionary defines "signage" as "signs considered as a group; the design or use of signs and symbols."

Another word that has come up everywhere these days is "branding." This is a great word to use in meetings when you're in too much of a rush to say "consistent messaging."

In case you haven't been there yet, the newly redesigned launched today. We hear at TigerBlog HQ think that it looks pretty good (of course we do; we're the ones who designed it), and we hope that those who go to the site will agree with us. turns 10 years old on Oct. 23, and TB is pretty sure this is the fifth different look for the site. The first athletics Website that Princeton had was called "Tiger Web Lockerroom" and had a URL of; it took many months of meetings to get the University to agree to have a site that ended in .com.

Through the years, the site has grown from very little content to where it is today, with any number of different ways to catch up on the Tigers. There are also four different sites that Princeton athletics now offers, and in the name of "branding," the redesign seeks to integrate those four as best as possible.

There is, which is the home for traditional sports information content. There is, which is four weeks old and seems to be off to a good start as the home for all video. There is TigerBlog (TB's personal favorite). There is

The three "satellite" sites are now more than ever easy to find off of the main page. The redesign also includes embedded video, bigger pictures, easier navigation and other features, including links to what will be an expanded video store, tickets and multimedia options.

TigerBlog is a big believer that Websites don't need to be award-winning in their design; they need to be easy to navigate. Each redesign for has focused on this, as well as making it less busy to the eye. It's not easy to accomplish this, as with 38 varsity sports, corporate sponsorship requirements, pictures, video and everything else, there is a need for a great deal of, well, stuff, on the page.

Anyway, hopefully the reviews for the new site will be positive, and our efforts at "branding" will be successful. So far, all signage points in the right direction.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Uh, No, They're Not The Same Thing

TigerBlog was walking on the concourse at Goodman Stadium at Lehigh Saturday afternoon, wearing his bright orange "Princeton Athletics" dri-fit. As he stood next to the sausage sandwich stand, he was approached by a stranger who asked if he worked at Princeton.

This is the conversation that followed:

Stranger: "Let me ask you a question."
TigerBlog: "Okay."
Stranger: "What was the University's official position on the sideline behavior of your former lacrosse coach?"
TigerBlog: "I don't think there was an official position."
Stranger: "Okay, what was your position?"
TigerBlog: "Well, I think our former lacrosse coach would be the first person to tell you that he often regretted his sideline behavior. I think it's a shame that many people only know him from what they've seen of him on the sideline, because it's not what defines him as a person or a coach and it doesn't speak to all of the great things he's done for so many people."
Stranger (walking away): "That's a weak argument. It's like saying the guards at Buchenwald were nice to their families."

TigerBlog never had the chance to reply, and it's probably for the best. His response, however, is basically that, uh, no, it's not nearly the same thing.

Bill Tierney is a Hall of Fame lacrosse coach who lost his temper during the heat of games. Buchenwald's guards oversaw a forced labor camp during World War II at which 57,000 innocent people were killed.

So, no, they're not nearly the same. But it does show a great deal about what it means to be a college coach, especially a high-profile one.

College coaches basically do their jobs in public, with an audience there to judge basically every move they make. And, oh by the way, their jobs are judged on the most obvious of terms - winning and losing.

It's not an easy way to make a living, and it's why not many coaches are able to have sustained, long-term careers on the college level. It takes thick skin.

There have been dozens of times when TB has been at a game and watched it slip away for one team. At the end of the game, it's obvious that the losing coach wants to take all the chairs on the bench and hurl them all over the place while breaking everything else in sight.

Instead, he or she has to walk to the other bench, smile and congratulate the other coach. Imagine framing your own career in those terms, and then imagine having that play out game after game for years, all the time reliant on 18-22 year olds to enact your vision for your program.

Princeton has had its share of volatile coaches through the years. Tierney, of course, was one. Certainly Pete Carril was another.

TB often joked with Carril about where they first met, at the Palestra, while Carril coached and TB chanted "Sit Down Pete" with the rest of the University of West Philadelphia fans. If you'd ask TB back then what he thought of Carril, it's unlikely that the response would have been something like: "well, he's probably going to be one of the most fascinating people I ever meet once I get to meet him." No, it would have been something juvenile.

One of Carril's favorite stories is about the time he was on the train and the conductor came up to him and said something like: "I just wanted to let you know that I've watched you work and I'm a big fan." Carril's response was: "The same goes for me."

In typical Carril fashion, it was pretty funny. Humor, of course, is a big part of his personality. Just like Tierney, for that matter. They also share other qualities: modesty, strong work ethic, high standards and many others.

You just couldn't necessarily tell by watching them coach at Princeton. So when you're watching a game on TV or in person and your thought is either that the coach they're showing must be either a saint or a jerk, the reality is probably somewhere else.

Just not death-camp guard.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sideline Pass

Back in the newspaper days of covering high school football games, TigerBlog would stand on the sideline rather than sit in the press box. It's a fairly standard practice, at least in these parts, for high school football coverage.

Maybe it's because the press boxes are too small. Maybe it's because the fields don't usually have hash marks between the yardlines, or maybe it's just because there's nobody keeping official stats, so the reporter has to do it. Whatever the reason, TB spent many Friday nights and Saturday afternoons on high school football sidelines from 1983-88.

TigerBlog used to choose which sideline to stand on based on a few factors: 1) would the sun be in his eyes?; 2) which sideline was more crowded; 3) was there someone on the other sideline he didn't feel like talking to for the entire game; 4) random. Of course, TB also remembers the frequent comments made to him about how he had chosen to stand on, say, Steinert's side of the field instead of Nottingham's because of his obvious Steinert bias (or Nottingham bias, if he'd stood on the other side).

Fast forwarding more than 20 years, TB was again on the sideline for a football game this past Saturday, this time at Goodman Stadium for the Princeton-Lehigh game. TB hasn't really spent much time on the sidelines for Princeton games, due to either radio, media relations, stat keeping and now public address responsibilities.

Still, there is no better place to watch a game from than the sidelines, and it took only a few moments Saturday to remember that.

The sideline for a football game is a wild place. Forget the sheer quantity of players or coaches. There's also doctors, athletic trainers, equipment managers, photographers, videographers, sideline reporters, security people and any other assorted people who managed to get a field pass.

As an aside, the game was 0-0 as Lehigh drove in the first quarter when Beverly Schaefer, the official photographer of TigerBlog HQ, said that Princeton was about to intercept a pass and run it back for a touchdown and that she would definitely get the picture. Two plays later, Steven Cody did just that, picking off a pass and returning it 77 yards, and she got the picture.

Princeton is committed to a broadbased athletic program, and as a result there are 38 varsity sports here. One of TB's favorite things about Princeton is that no sport is designated as more important than any other; the football game story cycled through between water polo and tennis. Still, there really is nothing like a football game in the world of collegiate sports.

Lehigh's pregame information says that the school has been voted No. 1 in the Patriot League for gameday atmosphere, and it's easy to see why. The grass hill behind one end zone was filled with families and kids, and the hills beyond the stadium make it a great setting. To stand on the sideline and look up at it all made it even more impressive.

During the game itself, it's amazing to see just how fragmented a football team is, as the defense gathers to make adjustments while the offense plays and vice versa. Coaches and players on one side of the ball probably miss half of the plays the other side runs.

As for longsnappers, punters and kickers, they have their own space carved out to practice, practice, practice and stay loose, waiting for their turn. All of this happens inside the box designated for the team. Outside of that, there is the rest of the sideline crowd doing its own work.

Roger Hughes always says that the football season at Princeton is like a "10-round fight," with each week a different round. While that may sound like "coach-speak," there's a great deal of truth to it. Football, more than maybe any other sport, can separate out each individual game as its own mini-season, which is probably a result of the fact that there is more practice time per actual game in football than any other sport.

And so at the end, the level of satisfaction of winning is tremendous. TB has been in the winning lockerroom of Princeton teams late into non-championship seasons many times and seen how each individual win is savored.

Saturday afternoon at Lehigh, the Tigers held off a late Mountain Hawk rally to win 17-14. As TB was walking off the field, he went past the ambulance parked at the end of the Princeton sideline nearest the locker room and the exit to the parking lot.

TigerBlog looked in to find two paramedics, faces down, texting on their phones (hopefully not to each other). TB thought it was the perfect end to a day on the sidelines: a Princeton win, and no one needed to leave in the ambulance.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Write Or Wrong

Hal Feiveson is a Woodrow Wilson School professor who teaches a freshman seminar each year that has a connection to sports, media and society. TigerBlog has spoken at the class each of the last few years, and this semester will be no different.

In advance of TB's appearance, Hal sent along an email asking to forward two stories that TB had written lately. He asked for stories that "raised special problems in writing."

TigerBlog has spent a few days thinking about this, and he has taken it to mean problems presented related to what should or shouldn't be written about, not writing about problems themselves.

Here at TigerBlog HQ, we obviously directly represent the Department of Athletics. Our first priority, of course, is to document the achievements of our athletes and coaches in as positive a way as possible.

We're lucky, luckier than many in our profession, in that Princeton teams are for the most part traditionally successful. Perhaps more than that, the department is filled with athletes and coaches who 1) avoid getting into trouble and 2) have fascinating stories to tell beyond just their athletic experiences.

Back when TB first started working here, HQ was much more of a media relations office, and almost all of what was written was designed to assist (or steer) the media when they wrote their own stories. Regular TB readers know this full well.

The game notes were tailored completely for the media, because nobody else read them. It used to be a source of satisfaction when ESPN would use some interesting nugget someone here dug up.

Post-game stories (or press releases, as they were back then) were straightforward. Here's the first paragraph of the release that TB wrote about the 2000 Princeton-Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse game, which, by the way, was the first post-game story for men's lacrosse ever on
"Trevor Tierney made 22 saves in goal and Matt Striebel scored a career high four goals as the new-look Princeton Tigers opened the men's lacrosse season with a 15-11 win over Johns Hopkins in front of 6,292 at Homewood Field in Baltimore."

Back then, the Web was an unknown. Today? It's changed everything, and perhaps nothing more than who our audience is.

The 2000 lacrosse story was written so that any number of newspapers could take a paragraph or two and include it in their next edition. It was faxed out to a distribution list and then put online almost as an afterthought.

The 2009 Princeton-Hopkins postgame story was completely different, written for a completely different audience and with a completely different purpose. If no newspaper reproduced any of it, that was fine with TB, since 95% (or more) of those interested in reading about the game were going to do so online. TB preferred they come directly to, but to do so, it was necessary to give more than just a few facts.

Here was the story from last spring:
"Bill Tierney began to talk about how hard it can be to play with a big lead. Then he paused and chuckled.

'The only thing harder,' said Princeton’s Hall-of-Fame men’s lacrosse coach, 'is to play with a huge deficit.'

Tierney saw both ends of the equation in his last two appearances in the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic games against Johns Hopkins, and he liked the 2009 version much better.

Jack McBride scored four goals and Tyler Fiorito made 11 saves to lead Princeton to a 14-8 win over Johns Hopkins in the third annual Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. The game was almost a mirror image of the meeting between the teams in the same stadium 52 weeks earlier."

Whether it's well-written or not isn't the issue. The main point is that this is how TB would have written it for the newspaper back in the day.

Of course, the problem with writing like this is need to balance covering the game objectively with the responsibilities of being the athletic department's official state-run newspaper, as it were.

Stories written to be seen only by newspaper people are completely different than those written directly to the audience of fans, alums, parents, athletes, coaches, recruits and anyone else. So are game notes.

Princeton teams win on average two-thirds of their athletic contests in any given year, which means that with 600 events a year, there are about 200 times when the staff here at HQ is writing about a loss. How should we approach those stories? What about writing about the key mistake that a Princeton athlete made that led directly to the loss? What about someone who lost their head and got penalized for it? What should we write in the name of accurately portraying what happened, and what should we not write in the name of protecting our athletes and coaches?

And what about the notes themselves? If Princeton has won 15 straight and 16 straight is the school record, do we mention that? Not mention that? Are we jinxing them? What if we've beaten the other team the last 20 times we've played? Or lost to them the last 20? Are we providing motivation for the other team? Discouraging our team?

And headlines. Don't forget about them. What if we write "Princeton Optimistic For XX Game?" Is XX now getting fired up because of that? Say Princeton wins 15-1 or loses 15-1? Is a headline of "Princeton Defeats XX" or "XX defeats Princeton" good enough? Remember, we're trying to get readers to come to first and foremost.

And forget just the stories that are written. What about readers who call or email with direct questions about athletes, games, coaches? What's our responsibility? TB has been bombarded with questions about Jonathan Meyers and his decision not to play football (for the record, he has decided to concentrate on lacrosse). Does TB email each one directly? Write a story for the Webpage about a personnel transaction, which is something we traditionally don't do?

Lastly, there's TigerBlog itself (the blog, not its human form). In the last two months, this blog has talked about health care reform, the last Presidential election, the Little League World Series, Bruce Springsteen, daytime television, youth sports, MapQuest, cartoons, ESPN's TV coverage and any number of other subjects, eventually relating them all back to Princeton athletics. Where does all this fit into the basic model of what a university athletic communications office does?

The answer is it doesn't, but it seems to be what the audience likes, so we've gone in that direction. And will continue to.

TigerBlog remembers the Princeton-Harvard women's soccer game in 2004 at Lourie-Love Field. Princeton hadn't scored a goal at home against Harvard since 1992, and TB had put that in the game notes.

Before the game, TB was approached (in the men's room, no less) by the father of one of the players, who told TB that if Princeton lost the game, it would be TB's fault, because the players would certainly be deflated by reading that note.

As it turned out, Princeton was shut out into the final minute before Emily Behncke scored with 25 seconds left in regulation to tie at 1-1. Esmeralda Negron scored in overtime to win it for Princeton, and that victory was the catalyst for the Tigers' unprecedented run to the Final Four. Behncke's goal is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, in the history of the program.

Does that mean TB deserves the credit?

Anyway, Hal asked for two articles about problems in writing. TB will send this one, and probably the one he wrote about John McPhee in Spain, one where TB and McPhee talked for three hours in casual conversation and then had TB write much of it in his story. Oh yeah, that's another issue. Was it meant to be off-the-record?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Make A Right At The Light, Keep Going Straight Until Night

TigerBlog had to go a school in the Neshaminy School District, a school he'd never been before. So what did he do? Of course. He went to MapQuest.

Unfortunately, MapQuest's directions didn't take him anywhere near where the school was. It was the second time this has happened to TB, when he reached the end of the directions and realized that he wasn't quite where he was supposed to be.

Recourse? None, other than to yell loudly. Of course, in both instances, TigerBlog didn't follow his instincts. The first time it happened, he was trying to get to what used to called the Garden State Arts Center, a place he'd been a ton of times back in the day. This time, he got lost.

As for yesterday, he knew the school was part of the Neshaminy district, in either Feasterville or Trevose. So why was he driving around Bensalem?

Why? Because something he read online said he should be. It wasn't quite like the time Michael drove into the lake with Dwight on "The Office," but it was close enough.

Back in the good old days in the newspaper business, TigerBlog often went to places he'd never been before. How'd he figure it out? Usually he'd actually pick up the phone and call and talk to a person.

Sometimes Harvey Yavener would chime in, as in this actual conversation before Princeton played in the 1994 NCAA men's lacrosse championships at the University of Maryland:
Yav: "Do you know how to go?"
TB: "Yes."
Yav: "I have a better way."
TB: "How do you know? You don't know my way. Maybe they're the same."

TigerBlog used to ride on the bus with the men's basketball team when he was a reporter, so paying attention to how to get places in the Ivy League wasn't that important back then. Interestingly, since TB began working at Princeton, he has almost never traveled on the bus, largely because he prefers to 1) keep to his own schedule and 2) eat where he wants, not where the bus stops.

The trips on the men's basketball bus in the early '90s remain some of his best memories of Princeton athletics. Those trips served as a great foundation to get to know the players, of course, and especially coaches Pete Carril and Bill Carmody (then the assistant).

The best trip was probably the one back from Dartmouth in 1991, after Princeton had finished off its first 14-0 Ivy League season in 15 years (there have been two more since). The entire trip consisted of the players singing songs mocking each other and Carril, and finally Carril as he wrote his own song about the players. The bus rolled into Princeton in what has to be a record-time of 4:40 (back then, Princeton owned its own buses and employed a full-time bus driver named Steve Gandy; Steve had a heavy foot) to chants of "Steve Is The Man; Steve Is The Man."

TB did ride with the basketball team on the bus to the airport for certain trips, including a 1995 ride to the Coors Light Classic in Fresno. Princeton's flight left Philadelphia Airport at 6 a.m. the morning after a home night game against Lafayette; TB remember setting his alarm clock for 2:30 a.m. Anyway, everyone was on the bus at the time we were supposed to leave (4 a.m., TB recalls) except for team captain Sydney Johnson (now the head coach) and reserve center Chris Anderson. As the two arrived late, Carril blasted Anderson for being late.

Ivy League travel is all done by bus, and the trips are so familiar now to TB after 20+ years that he can do them in his sleep, something that thankfully hasn't happened with all the middle-of-the-night rides home.

Going to Cornell offers two basic ways, either up the Pennsylvania Turnpike or up 206 and then through the Poconos. The biggest issues are always whether or not to take the Cross Bronx Expressway to 95 North on the way to Yale/Brown/Harvard/Dartmouth or go on the Merritt Parkway. TB has been drilled in traffic on 95 in Connecticut more times than he's liked, but the worst trip ever might have been a nine-hour ride to Brown the day the Pope spoke at a church right off the Cross County Parkway in Yonkers.

And, of course, there is Rein's Deli in Vernon, Connecticut. It's right off of I-84 at exit 65, and it's the focal point of any trip to or from Harvard. It used to include Dartmouth as well, which required going 20 minutes out of the way, until a second location opened on I-91 in Springfield. TigerBlog recommends the Boston Harbor sandwich, a mix of whitefish salad, lox, onion and tomato. It's perfect around 11 pm on the way back from a night game at Harvard.

TigerBlog isn't sure how many miles he's driven going to Ivy League events, but it has to be, what, 200,000? 300,000? Either way, it's a ton. Much of it has been late, late, late at night, and you haven't really lived until you've pulled out of Hanover, N.H., at around 10 p.m. to start the drive home.

Thankfully, TB figured out how to get all these places before MapQuest went online in 1999.

In two days, TigerBlog will drive up to Lehigh, a place he's been a ton of times, to watch the Tigers play football. TB knows how to get there, yet he feels compelled to print out the MapQuest directions.

Why? He's not sure.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Princeton-Harvard, From The Inside Of Both

The Final Jeopardy category was "Word History," and the clue was basically this: "Named for a Roman arena, this six-letter word took on its modern meaning as a form of entertainment in the 1800s." TigerBlog drew a blank; TigerBlog Jr. looked over and said "circus." When Alex confirmed it, TBJ said "it's actually short for 'circus-maximus, but that was more than six letters.' " TigerBlog was so shaken up by being beaten by TBJ at Jeopardy that he couldn't put thoughts together today, so he has once again turned the forum over to a TigerBlog HQ alum, this one Chuck Sullivan of the Big East Conference. As an aside, when TigerBlog first began to work here at HQ, his knowledge of how to use the Macintosh computer was non-existent. It was Chuck Sullivan who taught TB, starting with how to turn it on, and TB has always been grateful.

Upon reading that TigerBlog was accepting guest submissions from former staffers from the Jadwin balcony, TigerBlog-North immediately offered to share his two cents. The offer was accepted in relatively short order, meaning that some 16 years after he first stepped foot on the Princeton campus, TB-North was again on deadline.

TB-North spent the better part of two years in Princeton, working as an intern in the athletic communications office from 1993-95. Since then, he’s worked at just about every level that exists in college athletics – from a Division III commuter school with a shoestring budget to his current gig at a BCS conference that distributes several million dollars to each of its member schools.

In between was a four-year run managing the athletic communications office at a fellow Ivy League school – the one that likely stands as Princeton’s toughest competitor in most athletic endeavors.

Aside from the obvious difference that Princeton is a suburban campus, while Harvard is engrained into two cities, the respective athletics departments are actually quite similar. Both schools’ directors of athletics were accomplished Ivy League student-athletes who are competitors at their cores. Both departments are firmly committed to providing the best possible experience for its student-athletes. And both embrace the value of education through athletics.

That said, TB-North believes that the Princeton-Harvard rivalry is the strongest in the Ivy League. Of course, both schools also count Yale as a natural foil – and in the Crimson’s case the Harvard-Yale rivalry has been the subject of a recent book and movie – but ask a student-athlete from either Princeton or Harvard – in any sport – and he or she will likely tell you that the road to an Ivy League championship runs through the other’s campus.

TB-North has seen many memorable encounters between Princeton and Harvard in a number of sports from both sides. The first one that comes to mind was a men’s soccer game in 1994 at Lourie-Love Field in the pouring rain. The referee was kind enough to let the Harvard coach use his umbrella – a gesture he later regretted when said umbrella was destroyed over the coach’s knee upon the issuance of a red card. The coach watched what he could of the rest of the match from the team bus, but no doubt enjoyed the end result as the Crimson effectively eliminated Princeton from the Ivy League race.

That winter brought a memorable trip to Cambridge – actually lower Allston – from the men’s hockey team, which was mired in a 15-year streak of futility in Harvard’s Bright Hockey Center. But TB-North remembers Ethan Early’s (the son of a Harvard alum, no less) exorcising the demons with a hat trick in a Tiger win. That game, as it turned out, was the first in a lengthy run of Princeton successes in Bright as Harvard was unable to defend its home ice against the Tigers for the better part of the next decade.

Two football games come to mind as well. One was in 2003, when Harvard backup quarterback Garrett Schires engineered a win against the Tigers at Harvard Stadium in the first overtime game in series history. Three years later, both teams came into Princeton Stadium undefeated, where the Tigers rode a gutsy performance by the great Jeff Terrell to a 31-28 win as part of their Ivy title run.

But the rivalry extends beyond the so-called marquee sports. Pick any Ivy sport, and there’s a reasonable chance that Princeton and Harvard – in no particular order – will be the two favorites. It’s almost a foregone conclusion that in both men’s and women’s swimming, one will win the league championship and the other will finish second. Rowing, squash, tennis, field hockey, baseball and softball are often no different.

Even in those sports where there might not be a tradition of success, the schools have been able to hire good coaches and make the steady climb toward the top. When TB-North was at Princeton, women’s soccer and men’s hockey were more often found at the bottom of the standings than the top and Harvard was the Ivy to beat in both sports. Princeton has been to five NCAA tournaments in the last nine years in women’s soccer, including the only Final Four run in Ivy history, while the men’s hockey team is now a national force. Harvard, meanwhile, has taken steps to improve its standing in Princeton’s traditional strongholds of men’s basketball and men’s lacrosse.

At the root of the rivalry is a keen understanding of what the other is doing, both on the administrative and coaching fronts. The annual football game between the schools usually involves some kind of reconnaissance mission by staff members of the visiting team to scope out any facility upgrades or clever marketing initiatives. When a Harvard contingent saw firsthand how Princeton was using its new scoreboard displays to promote upcoming events during recreational hours, it brought about more than one department meeting back in Massachusetts.

The schools recruit a great number of the same prospects, and if one happens to provide a different level of support than the other, things can get testy – both internally and externally. Phone lines burn if a star prospect is admitted to Harvard and denied by Princeton, or if Princeton’s financial aid package is more generous than Harvard’s.

At the end of the day, both programs are successful because they have terrific people working for them. TB-North worked directly with Harvard’s football program for four years and, with no exaggeration, was impressed by every single person he met within the team. To this day, TB-North could reel off the starting eleven for the 1993 Princeton men’s soccer team, which made an amazing run to the NCAA final four with the great Bob Bradley on the sideline. As an aside, TB-North recalls killing time before many a Princeton soccer game by kicking a ball around with precocious 5-year-old Michael Bradley – Bob’s son who is now a fixture on the U.S. national team.

As TB-North mentioned earlier, he now works outside the Ivy League, in a 16-team conference that doesn’t allow him to choose favorites. Kind of like the same thing that happens when Princeton plays Harvard, though he has to admit that sometimes sentiment comes into play.

Either way, as long as they both beat Yale, then everything is right in the world.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Enough With The Jerry Jones Shots

TigerBlog really liked watching the Sunday night NFL game between the Giants (good) and the Cowboys (evil). He especially liked the end, when Eli Manning (whom TB has liked from Day 1 and likes even more now that he's won a Super Bowl) marched the Giants down the field and set up the game-winning field goal on the final play.

Still, TB can't help but wonder one thing about the telecast, and the telecasts of all Cowboys' games: Why the obsession on the part of the TV people with Dallas owner Jerry Jones?

TigerBlog counted the number of appearances Jones made on his TV screen and lost track around 15; a conservative guess would be that Jones was on 25-30 times. Why? Who could care about a shot of the owner? Other than fueling Jones' enormous ego, why show a picture of him, or any owner for that matter (Mark Cuban, etc.)?

It certainly doesn't enhance the broadcast. It's not as if even Dallas fans want to see shots of Jones. You watch the game to, uh, watch the game.

As an aside, TB once went to a Giants-Cowboys game at Giants Stadium to write a piece about then-backup quarterback and now Dallas offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, who Princeton fans know as the 1988 Ivy League Player of the Year. TigerBlog spoke to some of the high-profile Dallas players about Garrett, including Emmitt Smith, who found a $20 bill in his pocket as he was talking to TB and became as excited as anyone else would be to find a random double sawbuck, despite the fact that he had just signed a huge contract extension. TigerBlog has never been 100% sure what to make out of that, because $20 to Smith was like $.02 to anyone else.

Anyway, after talking to Garrett (a total class act) and the others, TB was getting ready to leave, when Jones came up to him and asked who he was and what he was writing about. When TB told him, Jones immediately started talking about Garrett and insisting that TB write down what he was saying. Again, TB still isn't sure what to make out of that, because it was either 1) a very nice gesture on his part or 2) freakishly narcissistic.

Let's get back to the endless cutaways to Jones, though. To TigerBlog, it is so unbelievably obvious that they add nothing to the game other than to generate extra animosity to the man that it's impossible for a TV producer not to realize this. Yet nearly 30 times Sunday night, someone in the truck said these words: "cut away to Jones."

What's the lesson? Maybe it's that some things are so obvious, but the people to whom it should be most obvious are too close to the situation to notice. By now it's a habit to show Jones (and Cuban) during games, or equally as bad, endless shots of parents, wives, fans, etc. It falls under the heading of "they do it; they must have a reason for doing it; we should do it; now we do it; now we're used to doing it; now we can't stop doing it."

Here at TigerBlog HQ, we're about 15 minutes away from our weekly event meeting. It's a meeting that has taken on many forms during TB's 15+ years of attending them, from a room jammed with people to a smaller group to any number of other permutations.

These meetings now have settled in Tuesday mornings at 10, and they feature representatives from marketing, communications, the ticket office, the business office, event management, intercollegiate programming, corporate sponsorship and more.

Their purpose is to figure out what Princeton events should look like, what should be important. Any area is open to discussion - parking, pregame music, the video board, programs, kids' events, security, promotions, everything. There have been heated arguments, endless debates on what could be considered non-sensical issues, long discussions on what changes could or should be made.

As an aside, TB remembers one his first meetings, when Hank Towns, the longtime equipment manager, was complaining that Pete Carril's practices were running long. It led to this exchange:
Hank: "Pete's practices are running forever, almost until 8."
Administrator: "That late? Where are the players eating dinner. The clubs stop serving before that."
Hank: "Who cares about their dinner? Let them eat at McDonald's. I'm worried about my dinner."

The people in the room are united in their desire to be progressive without shutting out the traditional elements and constituents, to figure out what's in the best interest of Princeton athletics, teams and fans. And what drives it? Are we beholden to the desires of the coaches and athletes, or do the needs and desires of the fans matter as much or more? And which group of fans? Families with kids? Alumni groups? Faculty and staff? Students?

Attendance at Princeton events has always fascinated TigerBlog. Even after all these years, TB isn't sure what the right answers are or if we're successful in drawing crowds here. There are some who feel that Princeton Stadium should be jammed every Saturday; there are others who recognize that that is not realistic. We had 8,000 fans here for the Citadel game Saturday. Is that a good crowd? Ask 10 different people, you'll get 10 different answers.

One question TB always asks himself is: Are we missing the obvious? He hopes that isn't that case, but how would he know? Is there something out there so simple that it has eluded us all these years and all these meetings?

In other words, are we showing our fans Jerry Jones, when all they want is to see the game?

Monday, September 21, 2009

And Now, A Few Thoughts From A TigerBlog Alum

Note - TigerBlog has offered several of the alums from TigerBlog HQ the opportunity to have the floor for a day. One, TigerBlog-Baltimore, said he would be providing an entry; we wait here anxiously for his words (and the two tennis guides he still owes us). One alum did take us up on our offer, and he has filed this report from his experiences at the Florida-Tennessee football game this past Saturday. TigerBlog returns tomorrow, when he will rip Jerry Jones and relate it back to Princeton athletics.

As a former TigerBlog HQ intern, TigerBlog-Alum had many opportunities to be involved in the game-day operations of sports many people would find obscure. For example, as an undergrad at that Big Ten school in the middle of Pennsylvania, TB-Alum was never exposed to events like water polo, squash or women’s ice hockey unless he read about the results of the school’s club team in the student newspaper. TB-Alum’s alma mater definitely had a football team, but the concept of sprint football was totally foreign.

TB-Alum credits his experience in working with such sports at Princeton as a big factor in landing a full-time gig at the University of Florida after his time at HQ ended. TigerBlog-Alum spent a few great years in Gainesville before getting married and moving back north in 2002. Now living outside of Philadelphia and out of the sports information business, TigerBlog-Alum still likes to remain close to sports. You can find him sitting in the Princeton Stadium press box on home football Saturdays, typing away on the official statistics computer, still lending a helping hand to his former colleagues.

Not last Saturday, however. TigerBlog-Alum had the opportunity to head back to Florida for the Gators’ big game against Tennessee (with many thanks to Mrs. TigerBlog-Alum and Little TigerBlog-Alum for the cool Father’s Day gift). It was the first Gator football game TB-Alum had seen in person since the ’01 season. After staffing countless games, this was one of the rare opportunities he’s had had to watch a game as a fan (admittedly, it is quite a refreshing experience to vocalize during a game … remember, in the press box, cheering for either team will not be tolerated).

So, there was TB-Alum, with one of his best friends, Mike (himself the recipient of the same cool Father’s Day gift from his wife and daughters), sitting in section 34, Row, 33, Seats 19 and 20 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field. All the while, 956 miles north on I-95, Princeton was opening its season against The Citadel. It made TB-Alum ponder … aside from the game itself, what are there the differences between a football game day in the SEC and a game day in the Ivy League?

Clearly, economies of scale drive the bus when it comes to the size of everything. Princeton drew nearly 8,000 Saturday. Florida expanded its stadium in 2003 with a new press box, suites and club levels. Saturday’s game drew a record of 90,894 fans, mostly clad in blue shirts to support the Gators.

Princeton offers parking in its lots on a first-come, first-served basis for a small fee. Reserved spots take on a different theme at Florida. Those who provide the highest level of support to the Gator Booster Club are able to reserve the same spot for every game. While walking through the parking lot at Florida, TigerBlog-Alum passed George Steinbrenner’s own personal spot (it was empty as of 45 minutes before kickoff). TigerBlog-Alum doesn’t know the exact amount paid for that spot, but the odds of it being more than a couple bucks are pretty good.

Those who didn’t have reserved parking had to park off campus in a satellite lot and either walk or be shuttled to campus. Of course, there is always the opportunity to pay a local resident (or a fraternity) a nominal fee and park on their lawn. But TigerBlog-Alum decided against the damage waiver at the rental car counter, so he erred on the side of caution.

From a press coverage perspective, Princeton distributed about 70 credentials for the game against The Citadel, which itself traveled from South Carolina with its radio team, two reporters and its sports information director. The game was televised by Verizon Fios TV in the local area.

For the Florida vs. Tennessee game, CBS televised it to a national audience in high definition. There were approximately 600 credentials distributed, 40 of which went to newspapers and photographers from Tennessee. The Volunteer athletic department traveling party consisted of the athletic director, several of his direct-reports and three sports information staffers.

Typically during a Princeton game, TigerBlog HQ staff (including statisticians like TB-Alum) will take up four or five seats along the second row of the press box. In all, Princeton football SID Craig Sachson has about 10 people helping him with various duties throughout the day. The Princeton game-day stat crew sits close to the media and is available to answer questions when something comes up. To his credit, Sachson has his finger on the pulse of every game and knows exactly when any player is about to hit a milestone, so the crew can focus on its task at hand.

It’s slightly different at Florida. The seven-person statistics crew at Florida sits in its own suite and has to wear headphones to hear each other speak. It may sound excessive, but trust TB-Alum, with an open-air press box and the loudest crowd in college football, that sort of technology is a must. The rest of the 20-member sports information staff is scattered throughout the press level answering questions, running stats, researching game notes, preparing for postgame duties, etc. It is quite a production at both places and both sports information offices do a fantastic job of coordinating them.

Florida boasts 19 intercollegiate sports (women’s lacrosse debuts in the spring) to Princeton’s 38 varsity programs. As one could imagine, hosting a football game that draws more than 90,000 people to campus is a traffic-crippling concept. Thus, the days surrounding the big game are when other sports take the spotlight. Friday night was when the cross country teams’ hosted their only home meet of the season (the men finishing first of 18 teams and the women finished first of 23 teams), while the women’s soccer team hosted rival Florida State on Friday night, falling in overtime in a battle of Top 10 teams, and Eastern Kentucky on Sunday afternoon, a 5-1 Gator victory. Those were just the other varsity sporting events on campus that weekend. There were also club sports, plenty of tailgate opportunities to go with eating and drinking establishments that were open well in to the evening for fans to enjoy.

Yes, there are differences in the size of the productions of football games at Princeton and Florida. But no matter the announced attendance in the box score, the field is still 100 yards between goal lines, the ball is still a prolate spheroid, and coaches still run to set up the pass and pass to set up the run. No matter the scale, college football is a great American tradition played by student-athletes that love the competition. This is true whether you cheer for the Boys of Old Nassau or the Boys of Old Florida – and TigerBlog-Alum is proud to say that he’s a fan of both.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Welcome To Princeton

TigerBlog remembers his first collegiate class in West Philadelphia like it was yesterday, even if actually was nearly 30 years ago.

It was a political science class (again, TB thanks all those who helped him avoid law school), and TB walked out of his dorm and down Spruce Street to the University Museum, directly across from Franklin Field. As he walked down the street, TB went past a construction site where tar was being poured; to this day, that smell reminds him of going to that class.

As he said, TB remembers it like it was yesterday. For members of the Princeton Class of 2013, the first day of college classes actually was yesterday, and it came after an extensive five days of orientation.

TigerBlog attended one of the last of those events, the one for freshman student-athletes. Sitting in McCosh 50, TB had his usual FSAO thought: Who here is going to win the Roper Trophy and von Kienbusch Award as the top male and female athletes at the banquet in 2013?

This is the start of TB's 21st school year around the athletes at Princeton, most of which has been here at TigerBlog HQ. Unlike years past, though, TB was visited the day before classes started by the daughter of a friend whom he had attended college with, a young woman named Amanda Roman. The fact that TB attended college with people who have kids old enough to be in college themselves is another story.

Amanda is not a varsity athlete at Princeton, which makes her unique among the students TB usually meets. Amanda said hello for about five minutes, during which time it was obvious that she had the normal "I'm about to be a Princeton student" nervousness about her.

When she left, TB couldn't help but contrast where she was as classes were about to being with the situation that the 200 or so athletes from freshman-athlete orientation were in at the same time.

Favoring Amanda: the athletes have all the same challenges academically that she does, though they also have the additional challenge of competing in Division I sports. TB is always amazed at how seamlessly most of the athletes are able to do that balancing act.

Favoring the athletes: there is an army of people here whose job it is to help the athletes succeed here, to have the best possible experience. In addition to that, any freshman athlete who steps foot on this campus is automatically surrounded by any number of teammates who by definition share similar interests and challenges.

This last point isn't something to be taken lightly, and from TB's point of view, it's the No. 1 reason why athletes are able to succeed here. They know from Day 1 that they are not alone. In fact, it's quite the contrary: They are immediately exposed to a group of people with whom they cannot help but bond with, and often the relationships that have just begun among new classmates and teammates will become lifetime friendships.

Of course, Amanda will make her own way on campus, will meet up with people who share her interests, will pursue non-academic pursuits of her own. It's just that for athletes, that whole aspect of college life is taken care of before school ever starts.

It's easy to sit here at TB HQ and forget that athletes make up less than one-quarter of the student population. The start of the new school year is also a good time to realize that Princeton is a place where athletes do not live segregated existences and that integration between the athletic department and the general University population is a major priority, one that a great deal of effort goes to.

There are vastly different experiences to be had here, and each new student has just started down their own path. In the end, Princeton will be for all of them what they make of it.

Orientation for the 2013 group is over. Come 2013, almost every one of these same freshmen will gather outside Nassau Hall for graduation, having had a chance to create their own path through this place. It's going to be over in a blink.

TigerBlog wishes them all well. As the video that TB made for the freshman athlete orientation said, the department's goal is for them to have the best four years of their lives, athletes and non-athletes.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Podcast 101

As TigerBlog HQ continues its head-first drive into 21st century technology, another new concept debuted this morning on It is TigerCast (who would have guessed that name?), the official podcast of Princeton athletics.

For some of you, question #1 is simple: what is a podcast?

A podcast is a free audio production that can be downloaded for free on your computer. On our site, there is a "New To Podcast" page that is a great resource for first-time users who aren't sure how to get the program on their computer.

TB hopes the podcast can provide yet another source of information and entertainment concerning the world of Princeton Athletics. Since it is an audio show, it doesn't demand your full attention; instead, you can download and listen while doing other things at work or at home. This particular TigerBlogger has spent numerous hours of work with a different Bill Simmons podcast in the background; honestly, it was probably during one of them that the TigerCast concept was first hatched.

Every week, TB wants to bring you a little closer to the people who make Princeton athletics what it is: the coaches and student-athletes. As TigerCast goes, we hope to bring some former Princeton greats to your computer as well. When a new show is posted, will announce it and give a brief timeline of the program, so you can go directly to a specific interview if that is what you are most interested in.

TigerCast will begin with a brief overview of the current status of Princeton athletics; with a Thursday target each week, the show can look back at the previous weekend while focusing more on upcoming events.

Like TigerBlog itself, which is viewed far more today than it was one year or even six months ago, TB HQ is hoping the loyal fans of Princeton athletics find TigerCast to supplement everything else we do and add to your overall enjoyment of the 38 varsity programs here.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Road Trip

During a three-week stretch of the summer, one of the members of the staff here at TigerBlog HQ made an 8,000-mile, 27-state, two-province drive with his lady friend for a fairly comprehensive vacation. As for TigerBlog, he prefers a vacation to be a tad more sedentary, perhaps a week at the shore.

The drive brought to 49 the number of states that the driver has now been to, with the lone exception being Alaska (which TB is surprised he didn't figure out a way to include on his trip). MotherBlog passed away long ago also having been to 49 of the 50 states, with the lone exception either North Dakota or South Dakota, something TB cannot remember.

As for TigerBlog, he's basically lived his entire life in a 45-minute radius of where he currently sits. Still, he's managed to get to 35 of the 50 states; east of the Mississippi, he's missing only Maine, Mississippi and Arkansas.

TB figured out that of the 35 states he's been to, he went to 18 of them for no other reason than Princeton was playing there and it was his job to go. This mostly was for men's basketball in-season tournaments, which were mostly played in December. These took him to some not-quite-warm locations, such as Milwaukee, Green Bay, Iowa (twice, once when it was so cold that walking from the arena at Iowa State to the parking lot resulted in frostbite and once when it was so warm it melted all the lakes and caused the densest fog TB has ever seen), Kansas, Illinois and others.

Of course, the 1998 Rainbow Classic in Honolulu made up for all of those weather-related challenges. Princeton, who played there the year after its 27-2 season, left for the tournament on Christmas Day, while TigerBlog and then-radio play-by-play man Tom McCarthy left the next day, at 3 pm, for a flight to San Francisco with a connection to Honolulu.

The first flight was delayed, and we arrived in San Francisco after our flight to Hawaii was scheduled to depart, though we were assured by the flight attendants that the flight was being held for a few people who had to make the connection. We got off the first plane and walked to the next gate, where we immediately got on a 747 that was packed just in time to hear the captain say "we apologize for the delay, but we're waiting for two passengers from Newark." This was followed by a chorus of boos and chants of "leave them." TB and TM were in row 53, so we had to walk down the long length of the plane to our seats; Tom spent the entire time apologizing and shaking hands.

The time in Hawaii consisted of three huge wins as Princeton won the tournament by beating Florida State, Texas and UNC Charlotte, with all three games on ESPN. TB would get up early, go to the University of Hawaii to update his information for the next game, go back to the beach, eat lunch at Duke's (at the hotel where the Brady Bunch stayed) and then go to the game.

Those trips have left TB with endless memories, including:
* walking across the border from El Paso, Texas, to Juarez, Mexico (not recommended today), with TM and Jose Ramirez-Del Toro
* flying back from winning the First Bank Classic in Milwaukee (beating Marquette in the final), and having two huge trophies (championship and Brian Earl's MVP) seat-belted into seats
* arriving in Muncie, Indiana, at around 11 am after taking a very early flight to find a wait at the local Applebees for lunch
* driving from Minneapolis to Ames, Iowa, on an 80-degree December day (the warmest in Iowa history for that month) in ridiculous fog and stopping to see where Richie Valens/Buddy Holly/the Big Bopper's plane crashed on "the day the music died"
* Then-Illinois coach Lou Henson scolding his booster group head after he had asked Henson if Princeton could use Illinois' vans to bus to the airport in Chicago after the Tigers' flight home from Champaign had been cancelled by saying "I don't care how they get out of here; stop bothering me with this stuff"; Henson moments earlier had put his arm around Pete Carril and said to the booster guy "anything Coach wants, he gets"
* Then-manager Miles Clark and Carril as they debated whether Clark had given the baggage handler a big enough tip during check-in; Carril gave Clark an extra $20 to give the guy, and Clark slipped it into his own pocket when Carril looked away

Adding in a trip to Nova Scotia to play Ohio University the day after Thanksgiving one year and the men's lacrosse games in Spain and Ireland, and TB has seen Princeton play sports in eight different time zones.

Obviously TB has had more than four years to do all this, but the ability to travel throughout the country and the world has been the source of great experiences for Princeton athletes in almost every sport.

Most recently, the women's soccer team played games in Utah and Wyoming. TigerBlog always liked going to the obscure places, destinations that he otherwise would never have dreamed of seeing. It's been a great chance to see the country, and the world.

For free, no less.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Nobody Puts Baby In A Corner

One of TigerBlog's favorite movies is "Point Break," a great action movie with a tremendous plot and some great performances. Okay, it's true. TB admits it. He was even okay with the job that Keanu Reeves did as Johnny Utah.

The movie is basically about a young FBI agent (Reeves) with a crusty old partner (Gary Busey) who chase a bunch of surfer/bank robbers led by their leader (Patrick Swayze). It has some great action scenes and chase scenes, and TB was able to forgive the ending.

Swayze, of course, died yesterday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was one of those Hollywood actors who could be counted on time after time to be in good movies, maybe not quite on the Kurt Russell-Alec Baldwin-Charlie Sheen-Joe Pesci level, but close. If a movie came on that you'd never heard of before but had Swayze in it, you'd give it a chance.

Every obit TB read about Swayze included the line "nobody puts baby in a corner" from Dirty Dancing, which is his most famous. The rest of his obit paints the picture of a man who was pretty universally liked and respected, one who battled one of the worst forms of cancer with great dignity to the end.

When TB used to work at the newspaper, in the pre-internet days, we had access to the AP wire. Every so often, news of the passing of famous actors would come across the wire, and someone who was surfing the wire, as it were, would stumble across the item and announce it to the newsroom. One of the more cynical staffers would usually respond "someone else I never met who died," though he was moved when the woman who played Aunt Bea on "The Andy Griffith Show" passed away.

TigerBlog, though, used to think of how these were people he never met but who had made an impact on him nonetheless.

In many ways, it's the same here, when news of the passing of old-time Princeton athletes comes. TB never met many of these people, but he was so familiar with the body of their work that he couldn't help but think he knew them.

When relatives will call about a picture or checking on some factual information, they usually start by explaining who the person they're calling about was. TB often explains that the name is familiar, that the accomplishments are as well.

Today TB received an email from a person he did not know about a former Princeton football player, Rob Beible, whom he's never met. It mentioned that Beible himself is ill and wondered about contact information.

TB immediately recognized the name of Ron Beible as one of the top quarterbacks in school history. A quick check pointed out that Beible is actually fifth all-time at Princeton in passing yardage, and he was Princeton's career leader when he gradated in 1976 (extra credit if you can name the four who have passed him since).

TigerBlog wishes Beible luck against his illness.

He also was sad to see Swayze had passed away, even if he was someone TigerBlog had never met.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Ah, Quincy

Like every other former kid, TigerBlog remembers that the best part of staying home from school sick was watching TV during the day. TB could always count on "I Dream of Jeannie" or "Gilligan's Island" to mix with "The Price Is Right" and take him through the day.

When TB was in the newspaper business, the daytime schedule was always filled with quality stuff, like "Kojak" or "Quincy." As an aside, TB loved Quincy, the show about the medical examiner, because it was always a good story and because Jack Klugman won a lifetime pass for "The Odd Couple." Still, TB can't help but wonder why nobody ever gave Quincy the benefit of the doubt. Yes, Quincy's theory in every episode went against the prevailing logic of the moment, but TB never figured out why Lt. Monahan or the senior medical examiner guy never said: "Hey, Quincy, it doesn't seem right, but since you've never, ever been wrong before, maybe we'll go along with you this time."

Anyway, TigerBlog was out for most of the last two weeks after having his knee fixed, and the current state of daytime TV is awful, unless you like to watch talk shows that all look exactly the same. Yes, A&E has the Sopranos at 8 am and 2 pm, but it's the same episode both times and the show loses something when edited. Beside that, there's back-to-back "Law & Order" and maybe a good movie on TMC if you're lucky. Given all that, it's good to be back at TigerBlog HQ.

Especially since it's finally football season.

You can argue all you want about having 10 games vs. 11 or not having eligibility for the playoffs. To TigerBlog, the toughest part of Ivy League football is watching every other level of football (NFL to Pop Warner) play multiple games before the Ivy schools have their first kickoff.

The toughest week is always last week, when practice has progressed along and 100 games have already been on TV. This week? Game week.

Princeton opens Saturday against The Citadel, a team that is 0-1 after a 40-6 loss to North Carolina (19th in the media poll, 24th in the coaches' poll) two weeks ago. Kickoff is 3 pm at Princeton Stadium Saturday.

Princeton deviated from its traditional schedule of seven Ivy opponents and three Patriot League opponents when it played San Diego home and home in 2004 and 2005. Prior to that, the last non-Patriot opponent for Princeton was William & Mary in 1989, in a game that saw future NFL kicker Steve Christie hit the crossbar on a 53-yard field goal attempt as time expired. Princeton played Northwestern and William & Mary in 1986, the last time the Tigers played more than one non-Patriot opponent.

The Citadel game is the second part of a home-and-home that began last year in Charleston. Princeton plays its return game at Hampton in 2011. Davidson and San Diego, as well as PL team Georgetown, are on the schedule beyond that.

Football isn't the only team on campus this weekend. The surging men's soccer team hosts its invitational this weekend, which features undefeated Princeton, undefeated and nationally ranked Monmouth, traditional power FDU and Ivy rival Cornell. There are two games Friday (5/7:30) and Sunday (noon/2:30). The Sunday game is followed by the women's game against nationally ranked Rutgers at 6.

Admission for regular season men's and women's soccer is free. Admission for football has been debated over and over in meetings, and to be honest, TigerBlog has lost track of exactly what it is. TB does know that it's ridiculously inexpensive, so there's no reason not to be here.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Worst Day Ever

The worst day in the history of the United States of America began as a bright, clear, calm Tuesday here at TigerBlog HQ.

Sept. 11, 2001, featured one of the most spectacularly beautiful mornings anyone would ever see. It's why TigerBlog immediately thought the worst as he dropped TigerBlog Jr. off at pre-school shortly before 9 a.m. and was told by a woman who worked in the office there that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center.

"How could a plane not see the World Trade Center on a morning like this? We can almost see the Twin Towers from here, it's so clear out."

The University League Nursery School sits across FitzRandolph from the Jadwin Gym parking lot. It's a two-minute drive; for that matter, it's about a five-minute walk. Between U-League and Jadwin, TigerBlog began to hear details and rumors while listening to "Imus In The Morning" on WFAN, a sports radio station - a Cessna had accidentally hit the Trade Center; no, it was a commercial plane.

TB was greeted by John Mack, who is now an associate athletic director at Northwestern, when he went into the building. John was at the top of the stairs by the balcony, and he flashed a big smile and gave his usual greeting. It was easy to tell those who heard something was wrong from those who hadn't.

It wasn't long after that that it all began to play out. The second plane hit the other tower. Reports came in of another plane that hit the Pentagon. Another plane had crashedin Shanksville, Pa., which sounded an awful lot like "Schwenksville, Pa.," where TB has family.

At the time, nobody had any way of knowing that those would be the only four affected planes. TB began to wonder how many other planes were going to be coming down, when it would end.

The only other day that can rival Sept. 11, 2001, in American history is obviously Dec. 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and drew the U.S. into World War II, where 415,000 American servicemen were killed. You can also make a case that U.S. involvement the war was inevitable, even without the Pearl Harbor attack. Plus, the actual attack was on military targets, not on innocent civilians who were either at work or flying cross country.

TigerBlog grew up hearing about how nobody would ever forget where they were when they found out President Kennedy was assassinated, but after awhile, that seemed to become something of a punchline, a skit on Saturday Night Live. TB understands it much better now, with every detail of that day still crystal clear even eight years later.

That athletic year at Princeton was just starting up, as it is now. That day was supposed to be a day to finalize the football game program in advance of the season-opener against Lafayette four days later, a game that like every other college or pro game scheduled for that weekend would not be played.

At the time, there was no way of knowing if the game would be played, so the program had to be done, though no one's heart was in it. Instead, most of the day was spent in the athletic training room in Caldwell Field House, where the only television at the time was.

Thoughts quickly turned to those whom TB knew who might be in the Trade Center. FatherBlog works in Midtown; was he okay? There were plenty of people from college who worked down there. There were any number of former Princeton athletes, especially in football and lacrosse.

As it turned out, Princeton lost two former athletes that day, a women's squash player and a men's lacrosse player. TigerBlog has seen the father of the lacrosse player (John Schroeder, who was on Princeton's first NCAA championship team in 1992) talk to the more recent Tiger teams and can't even begin to imagine what that day was like for him, for so many others who lost people close to them.

There were so many others who lived to tell harrowing stories of escaping from the disaster. TigerBlog caught up two days after 9/11 with Dan Swingos, who had been the captain of the first Princeton team in the new stadium in 1998, and wrote a story about how he had gotten out of the second tower and what he had seen.

Like every other American, TigerBlog assumed that this was just the start, that other attacks were sure to follow. Now, eight years later, the country has not seen another attack, and TB fears that it is blurring what happened on that day.

TB read today stories about how people are remembering 9/11 with a day of community service. It's not what today should be about. Today should be about remembering what happened, remembering those horrible images, remembering the ones who aren't here anymore, thinking about all the little kids within a short drive of here who never got to meet one of their parents.

TigerBlog went back to U-League in the afternoon to pick up TBJ and found him playing on the swings with the other kids. They were just kids, with no idea what had taken place that day. It was quite a scene, of innocence on a playground in a country that no longer had any.

As each 9/11 has passed, TigerBlog has dreaded the day, dreaded the sight of the pictures again, dreaded the memory of that day and the days that followed. Dreaded it, but determined never to forget.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Outrageousness And Outrage

TigerBlog watched parts of the last two Philadelphia Eagles' preseason games, the one at home where Michael Vick was cheered like a returning hero and the one on the road where the Jets' fans booed him like he was a villain.

Then TB saw the whole Terrelle Pryor episode unfold, from the writing of the name "Vick" on an eye-black strip during Ohio State's game against Navy last week to the rather odd comments he made after the game to the way that OSU coach Jim Tressel defended his star quarterback.

TB also saw the videotape, like everyone else, where Oregon running back Legarrette Blount punched out a Boise State player (who seconds earlier had been taunting Blount from a few inches away, as an aside).

TB also read Mark Whicker's column and apology he wrote talking about what Jaycee Dugard (the girl kidnapped at age 11 and held in a backyard for 18 years in California) missed in the world of sports during all that time.

What is there to make of all this? Easy. Society today rewards the outrageous. Society today is about fame, regardless of what it takes to achieve it. And this is the most true in two areas - sports and entertainment.

And then, when "the line" is crossed, outrageousness is replaced with just outrage.

Whicker's column was so obviously tasteless that it never should have made it to the newspaper. Of course, keep in mind that Whicker is one of the most respected columnists in American sportswriting history and has built up a great deal of credibility. That someone of his stature would write something like that shows where the world is right now. It's not about good taste; it's about topping whatever outrageous thing the last guy did.

As for Blount, Oregon moved quickly to punish him but also did something a little different. The Ducks didn't totally cut him loose and instead said they would have him practice and remain on scholarship, just not play in games. In other words, it's one of the first times that TB can remember an organization not simply washing its hands of someone who had crossed the line.

The whole Vick matter, and Pryor and Tressel's part in it, is difficult. Yes, what Vick did was horrible, but he also paid a huge price in loss of freedom and loss of wealth. He seems sincere about his remorse, at least from a distance.

Should he be allowed to play in the NFL? That's another matter. TB thinks he should, since there are people in the NFL who have done way worse than what Vick did who suit up every Sunday.

But that doesn't mean Vick needs to be held up as a hero or a role model or someone to be made to feel sorry for.

And Pryor? Whether you're the star quarterback at Ohio State or the backup quarterback at a Division III school, you can say what you want. For the most part, you can express yourself the way you want. When you're the star quarterback at Ohio State, though, you can get away with the outrageousness a little easier.

Today is Princeton athletic's preseason welcome back staff meeting. It's a time for Director of Athletics Gary Walters' "State of the Union" speech, as it were. It's a time for him to talk about current department issues, welcome new staff and basically lay the framework for the coming year.

It's also a time for him to reaffirm the values that he and the department believe in. TB can sum it up this way: Athletics should be an extension of the athletes' education, but that shouldn't be used as an excuse to accept less than the very best athletic performance Princeton is capable of.

Athletic society has evolved from a celebration of the athletic ideal (Joe DiMaggio) to the athletic star (Michael Jordan) to today's celebration of the athlete-as-star (Terrell Owens). Chad Ochocinco? He's an above average player who learned how to make today's athletic world work for him.

It'd be naive and pompous of Princeton to think that we're above all this. We're not. What we are is tuned in to it. We do thinks as a department to try to prevent our athletes from embarrassing the University, their coaches, their teammates and themselves.

In the heat of the action, there's not much anyone can do to stop any individual from doing something that they'll regret almost immediately. The best you can do is your best effort at hoping that those under your watch understand the ramifications for their behavior as they represent you.

Whatever success Princeton has had in this respect, it's an ongoing challenge. A daily one. The goal? To prevent the outrageousness - and then the outrage.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Interconnectedness - And Jim Barlow

Today is 09/09/09, which TigerBlog learned after going to google is also the "world day of interconnectedness." TB wasn't sure what that meant, so he clicked on the link, which took him to a Website devoted to this.

TB still doesn't know what it means, because he never made it past the picture on the site of three people holding upraised hands silhouetted against the sky. Besides, TigerBlog preferred when it was 07/08/09 and is looking forward to 08/09/10 more than 10/10/10.

Today is also the day of the World Cup qualifier between the U.S. and Trinidad and Tobago, whose airport TB was in a long, long time ago. This match is almost a must-win for the American team, even though it is on the road. Honduras and the U.S. are tied for first in the region with 13 points, followed by Mexico and Costa Rica with 12 each. Trinidad and Tobago (96% of the nation's population lives on Trinidad) and El Salvador have five points each.

The U.S. plays at Honduras and home against Costa Rica to finish the schedule. When it's over, the top three teams in the region advance to next year's World Cup, while the fourth place team will play a play-in game against a South American team for a World Cup spot as well.

The coach of the U.S. men's team is Bob Bradley, a Princeton alum who also coached the Tiger men's soccer team to the 1993 NCAA Final Four. His brother is Princeton baseball coach Scott Bradley, and Bob's son Michael is a key midfielder on the U.S. team.

Jim Barlow is the Princeton men's coach, and he played for Bradley as an undergrad at Princeton, including when he was the 1990 Ivy League Player of the Year. Barlow has remained close with Bradley throughout his career, and he continues to do so today as the coach of the U.S. U-15 national team, a job that has taken Barlow all over the world.

Barlow's Princeton team is off to a strong 2-0 start, with good wins against Lehigh (a team that had beaten Stanford) and Seton Hall (a perennial regional power). The Tigers have scored five goals in two games, and Josh Walburn won the first Ivy Player of the Week award.

If you're looking for the sports in which the Ivy League is most competitive nationally, the one that might be overlooked is men's soccer. Traditionally the Ivy League features multiple teams in the national rankings and the NCAA tournament, where three Ivy teams have played in three of the last four years (the other time, two teams made the field).

In fact, the strength of the league and a tough non-league schedule led Barlow's team to either the No. 1 or No. 3 (TigerBlog can't remember exactly) strength-of-schedule RPI in all of Division I a year ago. This year's Tigers won't have it easy either.

The win over Seton Hall came against another coach Barlow has had a long-standing relationship with, Manny Schellscheidt, a former Princeton assistant under Bradley and the current U.S. U-14 coach.

Barlow goes back with Schellscheidt to when he was with the U.S. U-18 team back in 1986, when Barlow was the final player cut four days prior to the World Cup in China. It was Schellscheidt who broke the news to Barlow.

Barlow was a standout soccer player at Hightstown High School, about 15 minutes from the Princeton campus. It was there that TB first met Barlow, when TB covered a few of the Rams' games.

Since then, TigerBlog has seen Barlow master pretty much any sport he's tried, from golf to lunchtime basketball to tennis. Through the years, TB and Barlow have joked frequently about which is a better sport, soccer or lacrosse. TigerBlog also remembers when Barlow wrote a column for the Princeton Packet entitled "Bo's Peeps," a play on a long-standing nickname.

The men's soccer team plays at American Friday and then hosts a four-team event the next weekend at Roberts Stadium (Sunday is actually a triple-header, with two men's games and the women's game against nationally ranked Rutgers).

The schedule also takes Princeton to California and then to Hanover for a tough Ivy opener against Dartmouth. There's also a home game next month against fourth-ranked St. John's, which will be televised on ESPNU.

The regular season ends on Nov. 13 at home against Yale for the Fox Soccer Channel Game of the Week. That's 11/13/09, which doesn't have the flash of 09/09/09 - or its own Website.

Maybe it can just be a pretty good day for Princeton men's soccer and its coach, one of the true good guys of Tiger athletics.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Anchors Aweigh

Since Princeton football was still two weeks away from kickoff, TigerBlog was able to watch the wall-to-wall college football on TV this past Saturday. There were games everywhere, which of course is a good thing and a huge risk at the same time.

It's the same with the NFL, which kicks off this week with a Thursday night game, a Sunday night game and two Monday night games in addition to what's left of the traditional Sunday at 1 and 4 (actually 4:15) schedule. More does not always equal better, as after awhile it all starts to look the same.

Going back to the first Saturday of college football season, there was a great deal to see - maybe too much. TigerBlog gave up before LSU-Washington and Maryland-California, and this was after watching football pretty much straight from noon to 10ish.

The one game that really stands out now is the first one, Ohio State vs. Navy, and not because the Midshipmen almost knocked off the Buckeyes in Columbus. No, the reason this one stood out is that watching Navy play football today is like watching Princeton play basketball 10 years ago.

Navy plays a unique offense, an option attack that enables the Mids to compensate for having undersized linemen. It's an offense that relies on misdirection and multiple reads off every play, yet it's also very simple at the same time. Navy runs it flawlessly.

Navy has used this attack under several different coaches, and the Mids have had great success with it. There have been wins over many BCS conference schools and bowl appearances; Navy has led the FBS in rushing each of the last four years.

In many ways, this is all similar to Princeton basketball of 10 years ago, when Princeton would lead Division I in scoring defense each year, regularly defeat schools from major conferences and succeed in the postseason.

Like Navy, Princeton's formula for success was based on a simple offense that was run with great precision and that was unique. Teams that played Princeton, especially outside the league, saw the offense only once, which made it extraordinarily difficult to prepare for the game.

And then a funny thing happened. Princeton's style, the "Princeton Offense," exploded around basketball, at every level. Today, pretty much every team everywhere has some aspect of Princeton's offense in its playbook.

This all started with the success of the 1997-98 Princeton team, which went 27-2 and reached the national Top 10. The ironic part about that team's legacy is that the style is no longer unique to Princeton, and a core part of that team's ability to succeed no longer exists.

The Navy offense, though, remains has hardly spread throughout the rest of college football. The offense that has taken over is the shotgun spread, which has either a bruising quarterback who is more fullback than pure passer or a pure passer who throws 50 or so times a game.

So why did Princeton's basketball offense take over when its football counterpart has not? It's a tough question. It has something to do with practicality and a great deal to do with how sports often work today.

John Thompson always said that Princeton's offense would work even better with with NBA-caliber players, and he proved it by taking Georgetown to the Final Four. In football, the No. 1 weapon in the Navy offense is the quarterback, and glamor quarterbacks are thinking about the NFL, which means being able to throw. Big-time quarterbacks don't want to run the option.

Another reason is that in sports, something becomes "hot" and then everyone follows it. The Princeton Offense became the trend, and everyone followed it. The Navy offense hasn't become trendy.

Lastly, there's the whole football mentality. The Princeton offense has simple fundamental aspects of it that can be applied throughout basketball. The Navy offense in football does, but it's probably too simple for a sport in which the top coaches are thought of as genius mad-scientist types who run complex schemes that only they can understand and teach.

Anyway, the Navy offense in football and the Princeton offense in basketball have more than a few similarities. Perhaps the greatest among them is the fact that when it comes on ESPN, it instantly looks different than everything else.

Friday, September 4, 2009

TigerBlog On Percoset

TigerBlog, in the last 20 years or so, has done pretty much everything you can in the sport of lacrosse. Written about it. Broadcasted it, on both TV and the radio. Coached it (at least on the youth level). Been the media relations contact for NCAA championship teams. Been the official scorer for NCAA championships. Helped write the rules for keeping stats.

In other words, TB had done everything but play the game. Until he latched on with the "Old Bucks," a group that mostly coaches their sons and daughters in Lower Bucks Lacrosse.

Sometimes we'd play against other "masters'" teams. Sometimes there'd be pickup games with kids who played or recently had played in college.

TigerBlog loved it immediately. It wasn't just getting out there and seeing what it was like to play the game from the inside out, rather than just observing it. The experience helped TB to write about it and especially to broadcast.

And, somewhat shockingly, TigerBlog made it all the way until the second game of his second season before suffering a major injury. After attempting to have it heal by itself for more than a year, TB gave up and had the surgery to correct his knee earlier this week.

As an aside, TB was in Conte's last week when he saw the doctor who was going to perform the surgery walking out. TB then went up to his table, where the doctor's family and friends were still sitting.

"Make sure he gets to bed early next Tuesday," TB told the doctor's wife.

Anyway, TB is starting the healing process, which includes Percoset, a little pill that is supposed to knock out the pain (and the patient). Having said that, TB today comes to you with a few Percoset finding their way through his blood stream. In other words, TB needs to hurry up before loopiness becomes today's theme.

Either that, or perhaps a look at how dreadful daytime TV has become.

Today is Opening Day for Princeton's 2009-10 athletic season. As TB readers know, it's one of the best days of the year, for its offer of promise to all 38 Princeton teams and to all the teams against whom they will compete.

As TB has said numerous times, who will be the athletes this year who come out of nowhere, or the ones who have already established themselves as stars who will elevate their game? What freshmen will make an immediate impact?

At Princeton this year, you can add: How will the six new head coaches do in their rookie years?

The common greeting around TigerBlog HQ the last week or so included words like "the summer flew by" or "can't believe events are starting again."

In reality, when you decide to work in college athletics, you agree to everything that goes along with that, which includes working at night or on the weekends. It's like people who buy houses near airports; you can't turn around and complain about the noise.

Princeton Athletics is a multi-faceted organization that requires a great deal of effort on the part of dozens or non-coaches or athletes. We have very little turnover at Princeton, which must mean people like what they do.

Gary Walters, the Director of Athletics, often speaks of "athletic mortality" as the looming end of the playing careers of college seniors. It can also speak to injury, as in the old recruiting advice of "pick the college you're going to go assuming you're going to hurt and never be able to play." In other words, don't make it all about athletics.

TB's athletic mortality may be looming. When the doctor suggested it would be six to nine months before TB is healed, TB then asked if that meant he could play lacrosse again next summer.

"Only if you're an idiot," the doctor said.

So, TB's goal is get back to playing squash. In the meantime, the Percoset is just about starting to ...............zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

New Season, Same Theme

The wait is so almost over. It's been 109 days since a Princeton varsity athlete last competed on campus. Tomorrow at 6 p.m. at Roberts Stadium, the women's soccer team will break that long layoff by beginning the second season at its new facility against Hofstra.

Last season marked a big step toward returning to the success the program saw in the first half of the decade, making NCAA tournament appearances annually from 1999-2004. In '08, the Tigers played in the NCAA tournament for the first time since the '04 College Cup run and improved to 12-3-2 overall from middling records the previous two seasons.

The first year after the long postseason run, 2005, was Emily Behncke's last, and it was also the last time the Princeton women's soccer team went into a season with a good idea of who would lead it in goals at season's end. Behncke graduated as the program's third-leading scorer all-time.

Princeton still had Diana Matheson for 2006 and 2007, but Matheson's strength was as a feeder. Still, she led the team in scoring both of those seasons, but graduated without going to the postseason after her freshman campaign of '04.

Then came 2008. No Behncke, no Canadian national team member in Matheson. What's a team of Tigers to do?

Up stepped Sarah Peteraf. In her first two seasons, Peteraf had four total goals and then none as a junior. As a senior, all she did was co-lead the Ivy League with 12 goals, including seven game-winners.

But Peteraf has graduated, and again the team enters September with the same question. Who's got the go-to foot?

Kalie Bartholomew was the team's runner-up with four goals a season ago as a freshman, and senior Vicki Anagnostopoulos is the career leader among returners with nine goals.

Then there are the freshmen. It's a big group, with nine people, but no recruiting ranking can really tell what a kid will do when she's actually in a college uniform playing against fellow collegians, some three or four years older. It wouldn't be fair to throw any guesses out there for the rookies before they play their first game.

Another theme that seems to pop up every season is the head start other teams have on the Tigers, who arrived on campus August 20 to begin practice. The next day, many teams around the country had their first real games. That was a week after some of those teams played against fellow D-I schools in so-called exhibition games, which are just like real games in terms of preparation and experience but don't count in the standings.

Princeton had to settle for mini-scrimmages against fellow Ivies. Those took place last Saturday, two weeks after other D-I schools played their practice games.

In Hofstra, the Tigers will be facing a team that has already played two real games, winning an OT battle at Richmond and suffering a 7-0 loss to highly-ranked Virginia. Wins or losses, however, it's game experience. Which is more important, having played in games together as a team or having fresh legs and the anticipation of a season-opener?

History suggests it won't be much of a hindrance. In head coach Julie Shackford's 14 seasons, Princeton is 9-5 in openers. And, in a stat which probably means nothing, every time Princeton has won its opener in the 2000s, it has gone to the NCAA tournament. Every time it hasn't won its opener, it didn't go to the NCAAs. Who knows?

Either way, it's been a long, long time since the end of the ECAC/IC4A track meet on May 17, the last time a Princeton athlete competed on campus. The summer is hours from being over on the Princeton athletics calendar.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Ivy League Fantasy Football Draft

Some people hear Christmas music in the malls right after Thanksgiving (or, as it seems these days, Columbus Day) and get downright giddy. Some feel the temperature change in the spring and begin to taste the summer.

TigerBlog sees cheatsheets and draft kits start popping up on different sports web sites and gets that same excitement. Yes, TB has a wife, a child, a full-time job and a mortgage, but he still transforms into a kid in a candy store when fantasy football season rolls around.

A brief description for those of you who have yet to experience the thrill of staying up late on a Monday night to watch the Seattle defense score three (yes, three) touchdowns to cost your team a playoff spot (that was three years ago, and perhaps TB isn’t over it fully); fantasy football is based on putting together teams of actual NFL players and using their gameday stats each week to determine head-to-head results.

We could get much deeper into it, but since this is TigerBlog, not TigerNovel, we’ll move on.

While preparing for a different draft, TB had the idea of trying to do a few rounds of an Ivy League fantasy football draft for the upcoming season. And since one of his league mates just happens to be the football SID at Cornell -- 2004 Rypien Cup champion Jeremy Hartigan -- he found a partner for the exercise.

We ran the draft last night with the following rules: each person managed four teams in an eight-team league, so TB took the odd teams and Hartigan, or RedBlog as he’ll be referred to from this point forward, took the even ones. We used a traditional league set-up: one quarterback, two running backs, three receivers, one tight end, one kicker, one team defense.

We decided three rounds would be about as far as we could go with a degree of confidence in the picks.

1a Jordan Culbreath (Princeton, RB)
2a Bobby Sewall (Brown, WR)
3a Mike DiMaggio (Penn, RB)
4a Matt Luft (Harvard, WR)
5a Buddy Farnham (Brown, WR)
6a Gino Gordon (Harvard, RB)
7a Austin Knowlin (Columbia, WR)
8a Bryan Walters (Cornell, WR)

Culbreath would be the Adrian Peterson of this draft, since running backs are the backbone of fantasy football, and he returns as the reigning rushing champion with four starters back on the offensive line. Brown’s Bobby Sewall led the league in both receiving yards and touchdown catches last season, so RedBlog took him with the second pick. With several top-rate receivers on the board, TB took Penn running back Mike DiMaggio third because he can see the Quakers being tough defensively and try to run the clock, and DiMaggio finished third in the league rushing race last season. Plus, new quarterbacks make the top receiver picks a bit more risky.

Four of the next five picks were receivers, including another Brown standout in Buddy Farnham and Columbia’s Austin Knowlin (who might be a top-three pick in a league that counts return yardage). All quarterbacks are still on the board, which is partially due to the way fantasy leagues work and partially due to the number of starters qho graduated last May.

8b Kiefer Garton (Penn, QB)
7b Randy Barbour (Cornell, RB)
6b Tim McManus (Dartmouth, WR)
5b Joe Springer (Brown, QB)
4b Collier Winters (Harvard, WR)
3b Trey Peacock (Princeton, WR)
2b Alex Jenny (Dartmouth, QB)
1b Brook Hart (Yale, QB)

RedBlog takes the first quarterback off the board with Penn’s Kiefer Garton; in fantasy terms, Garton would be a nice value pick because he’s going to get you rushing yards to go along with the passing total. He’s also one of the few quarterbacks in the league with any starting experience, so that adds to his value significantly.

Joe Springer and Collier Winters are the projected favorites for the Brown and Harvard jobs; although neither of us were positive that either was officially named the starter, both have far too many weapons to leave on the board for very long. TB went with Springer over Winters for no other reason than to pair the Brown quarterback on team five with his own receiver, Buddy Farnham (I did the same thing with Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson in my own league, so let’s hope it’s a solid strategy). The Trey Peacock pick was made with some admitted bias; let’s just say TB has a gut feeling about him this year.

1c Chris Lordich (Harvard, WR)
2c John Sheffield (Yale, TE)
3c Shane Kelly (Columbia, QB)
4c Penn defense
5c Cheng Ho (Harvard, RB)
6c Ben Ganter (Cornell, QB)
7c Tommy Wornham (Princeton, QB)
8c Andrew Samson (Penn, K)

The third round is where you take a shot at somebody you hope hits his upside (or just hope wins the starting job). Shane Kelly, like Garton, gets you rushing and throwing numbers; both Ganter and Wornham could do the same, assuming they win their respective jobs. Cheng Ho was actually an All-Ivy running back in 2007 and missed much of last season with an injury, so he could be a steal with the 21st pick (or he could be stuck in the ultimate fantasy football nightmare: running back by committee). And if you’re in a draft where a kicker actually gets selected in the third round, it’s probably time to find a new league; but we’ll let RedBlog get away with it here, and Samson is clearly the top kicker in the league coming into the season.

So there you go. It’s not likely Matthew Berry will be giving his draft grades on this one, but if you play fantasy football and follow the Ivy League, which team would you want to start out with?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

GoPrincetonTigers.TV: A Site To See

It was on Oct. 23, 1999, that the Princeton Department of Athletics launched, its official Website. TigerBlog wishes he had taken the time to think through what the new site would mean, perhaps writing down a few thoughts on what the impact would be.

Looking back on it now, TB can't remember exactly what he thought would happen. He's pretty sure he didn't anticipate that every facet of athletic communications would change within a short time.

Today the athletic department launches another site, This site will be the home of Princeton's video initiatives, including streaming of games and original content that will be created by the staff at TigerBlog HQ.

For the second time in the 16 years that TB has worked here, Princeton's focus in athletic communications has changed radically.

The new site is an offshoot of the commitment to move from printed materials to on-line, multi-media presentations. This content is designed to appeal to all of Princeton's constituents, from current athletes to recruits to fans to parents to anyone.

The goal of much of the video content will be to showcase the Princeton athletes and give a first-hand look at their experiences. The only subscription content is the streaming of games, live and on-demand. The rest will all be free.

And what will be included? Game highlights. Previews. Player features. Player bios. Facilities tours. Interviews. Kids' content. In other words, anything that could previously be written about is a possibility for the new site.

In anticipation of this move, we asked ourselves some questions and came up with some very specific answers:
Are media guides still the best way to reach those who need the information they contain (by "those who need it" we mean primarily media members and recruits)? No.
Is the money used to print the guides a good investment? No.
If we're not printing media guides, is it worth designing them and posting them to the Web as pdfs? No.
Would the time previously used to design the guides, a huge chunk of time here at TB HQ, better be used on multi-media presentations? Yes.

As a result, here's what we have now:, the main Website for Princeton athletics ... will continue to have all of the same content it's always had and a continuing commitment to fresh directions, such as the podcasting that will debut this fall as well.
GoPrincetonTigers.TV, our own little TV network.
TigerBlog, which speaks about Princeton athletics and the issues that impact it and is updated daily.

Now, having said all this, here's one disclaimer: The new site will probably have some bugs. It may take a little while to sort them all out. Also, the address for the new site is, not

It seems like a long time ago that we here at TB HQ were reliant on outside forces to tell our stories. The launch of 10 years ago shifted the focus from pitching stories to the print media to telling those stories ourselves.

Now, with the new site, the same is true with anything that can be televised.

We're pretty sure it'll be a site to see.