Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Rooting Interest

TigerBlog knows a guy who was born in Iowa and then essentially grew up in South Jersey. He has lived in the New Jersey/Philadelphia area basically his entire life, including college and almost all of his time spent working (except for two years in Ithaca). For all TB knows, he has never been to Texas.

So who is this guy's favorite football team? The Cowboys, of course. How is that possible? Well, like many, his allegiance stems from the same basic thing: When he was a kid, his parents bought him something that had the logos of all the NFL teams, and the ones he liked the best were the star and the lightning bolt. Because the Chargers were never on TV, he became a Cowboys' fan.

It's a story similar to many others. There are fans of NFL teams because they liked their uniforms or had a favorite player years ago or had a jacket with the logo or anything.

TigerBlog? He grew up in Central Jersey, and he's always liked the Giants. It's the geography. Simple, but rare.

As a Giants' fan, TB has always hated the Eagles, Cowboys and Redskins. Because MotherBlog was a big Redskins' fan, TB cut the a bit of a break. As for the other two, TB can't stand them.

So when they were playing each other in the playoffs the other night, TB was rooting for both to lose. As that was impossible, he found himself rooting for the Cowboys. Why? Because of the offensive coordinator.

Jason Garrett is one of the great quarterbacks in Princeton football history, and he's also about as high quality a person as you'll ever meet. In the few times TB has interacted with Garrett, he has found him to be extraordinarily personable, accommodating and helpful. As Dallas' offensive coordinator, Garrett gives TB some consolation if the team wins.

So good for Dallas. Hey, TigerBlog will probably root for them again this weekend, as the whole Brett Favre thing is just too over the top now.

TB's position on Dallas started him thinking about other teams he now roots for and why.

In baseball, for instance, his favorite teams are the Pirates (Ross Ohlendorf) and Padres (Chris Young, Will Venable), though he's not holding out hope for a meeting in the NLCS anytime soon.

But those teams are too obvious. Princeton alums playing in the Major Leagues? A no-brainer. Same with Princeton alums in the NHL.

TB was watching Northwestern play Michigan Sunday afternoon, and he obviously was rooting for the Wildcats (who pulled it out in the last minute). Northwestern, coached by Bill Carmody with Mitch Henderson as an assistant, is part of the Princeton basketball tree in college basketball. It leads Princeton fans to root for:

* Georgetown - a perennial Top 25 (and usually higher) team, Hoya coach John Thompson is the only Division I basketball coach who routinely texts TigerBlog for updates during Princeton lacrosse games
* Richmond - rooting against Chris Mooney is impossible, especially for someone like TigerBlog, who saw about 100 of the 107 games Mooney played at Princeton
* Northwestern - Carmody was once asked in a postgame press conference about his team's reliance on the three-point shot, and, with TigerBlog standing next to him, replied: "If you're going to be part of our team, you have to be able to make threes. Our center can make them. Hey, our SID can make them."
* Denver - Joe Scott continues to turn Denver into the kind of team he envisioned for Princeton; why it didn't work out here will remain a mystery for TigerBlog for a long, long time
* Mercer County College - Howard Levy had his team practicing in Jadwin Gym before its weekend trip to Rhode Island, and he sounded a lot like his own college coach, only about 20 inches taller
* Oregon State - politics aside, TB rooted against OSU coach Craig Robinson while an undergraduate in West Philadelphia

Again, of course, those teams are obvious. Princetonians as head coaches?

So others on TB's list include:

* Siena men's basketball, whose head coach, Fran McCaffery, is responsible for changing TigerBlog's career path from law to writing and for which TB is eternally thankful. The short version is that Fran and TigerBlog used to work together in the psychology department in West Philly when Fran was a grad assistant basketball coach and TB was a sophomore. Fran then introduced TB to his brother Jack, who at the time was a sportswriter for the Trenton Times and has been at the Delaware County Times since. Jack got TB started in the sportswriting business in 1983.

* The Sacramento Kings. The presence of Pete Carril would be enough, but the Kings also have Rider alum Jason Thompson.

* The Oklahoma City Thunder. TigerBlog's favorite player from Georgetown was Jeff Green, who has developed into a very solid NBA player with the Thunder. It was a tough night last night for TB, when the Thunder took on TB's other favorite NBA team, the Knicks. If all goes well, both will be in the playoffs.

* Bradley. Michael Cross, who spent the last 10 years at Princeton, is in his first two weeks as the Braves' athletic director, and TB has already started making bradleybraves.com a regular daily stop. On a similar note, TB also roots for the West Coast Conference, whose commissioner is former Princeton athletic department member Jamie Zaninovich, come NCAA tournament time.

* Temple. TigerBlog has always been a Fran Dunphy fan, and it was always hard to separate out wanting to root for Dunphy from rooting against his Quakers. Now it's easy.

* Whoever is playing Duke and the Yankees.

* The U.S. men's soccer team. TB would root for America anyway, but having former Princeton coach Bob Bradley in charge has made following the team a higher priority.

* The English national men's lacrosse team. The upcoming World Championships are in Manchester, and the final is almost certainly going to match the U.S. and Canada (TB, again, will root for America, though Canada is on the short list of other countries TB routinely roots for). For third place, TB would like to see England beat out the Australians and the Iriquois. Princeton has played four games against the English in three different countries (Spain, Ireland and America), and the English coaches and players couldn't be nicer people.

So, that's the basic list. There are other individuals and teams who, for various reasons, TigerBlog usually roots for, but we've covered the main ones.

Oh, and there will be a new member of the list beginning Feb. 19. That would be University of Denver lacrosse, and TB figures they'll be vaulting pretty high up the list quickly.


Anonymous said...

This is a neat post.

gib kirwin '58 said...

Geoff Petrie is still GM with the Kings, responsible for signing Pete, is he not?

Princeton OAC said...

That is correct. In fact, he just signed a three-year extension.


What, no love for the College of Coastal Georgia Mariners? www.ccga.edu/athletics

As a OAC alum who worked with JTIII a bit, it pains my pops back home in Connecticut that I consider Georgetown, the team I disliked most as a child, my favorite basketball team.

(I also pull for Northwestern, but not because of any coach, because John Mack is a senior administrator running the place.)

Anonymous said...

So on the off chance your Cowboys fan friend marries someone from Philadephia who is a die-hard Eagles fan, will their kids be raised as Eagles fans or Cowboys fans, or will the kids just be Steelers fans?

Anonymous said...

Do you also root for teams from the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference since the commissioner is a former OAC staffer?

Could you name a team from the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference without looking it up?


IIAC Conference member Cornell College is one of my favorites, but I always root for Simpson, since my good friend Buck Olsen played football there...

Anonymous said...

Boston Celtics, Armond Hill. Armond is in his 6th season as an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics and won an NBA Championship with Boston in 2007-08.