Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Cleaning Up The Mess

Of all the people TigerBlog has met in the world of athletic communications, there hasn't been anyone else quite like Pete Manetas.

Back when TB was just starting to cover college athletics at the newspaper, Manetas was the sports information director at what was then Trenton State College and is now the College of New Jersey.

Today, the profession has evolved to the point where, as TB has said many times, athletic communications offices are now their own media outlets. The number one positive about this, from the point of view of someone who works in the profession, is that it means there are no limits to how creative someone can be.

Back then, though, before the internet, it was more about getting information about your school into the media and not as much about how well written something was.

For a Division III school like TSC (now TCNJ), it was really all about getting stuff into the local papers, such as the one TigerBlog worked out.

As an aside, if you went to the school before the name changed and someone asks you where you went to college, what do you say? Trenton State? TCNJ?

Anyway, Manetas had the same little Radio Shack word processor that TB did, and he would send write-ups directly into the system at the newspaper, rather than through faxing, which required re-writing.

TB will never forget the first time that Manetas did this, the night when TB was waiting and waiting and waiting for Manetas to send the results of the conference swimming and diving championships, figuring it would take TB forever to enter them into the newspaper's system once he had the info, only to have Manetas call and deliver the great news.

TigerBlog rode with Manetas on several occasions in a TSC van to away games. He remembers that he might not have been the greatest driver, but looking back, TB is pretty sure it's because he drove very slowly.

TB and Manetas would laugh at the same things and roll their eyes at the same things. It's largely because of Manetas that TigerBlog has such great memories of his time covering sports at the school.

Manetas left sports information long ago and now works in development at the school.

More than anything else, TB remembers two things about Manetas.

First, Manetas grew up in rural South Jersey and wasn't an athlete himself; in fact, he always said he was going to write a book called "I Never Played The Game.

Second, his desk was a mess. No, not just a mess, a mess like no other, piled high with paper, newspaper, files, pens - everything.

Perhaps it's the nature of the business, with the quantity of information that used to be printed out and shoved on a desk somewhere, alongside dozens of letters (remember those things that needed stamps?) requesting some information or another.

TB's desk often gets out of control, though not to the extent that Pete's did. And every now and then, there's a massive cleanup effort to fix the problem.

Yesterday, another OAC staffer was cleaning his also-messy desk.

One of the best parts is stumbling on something that you didn't remember you had, such as the CN8 version of the Princeton-Penn football game from 2006, the one that Princeton took 31-30 in two overtimes.

Once the DVD of the game was found, everything else stopped.

For those who don't remember, Princeton won the 2006 Ivy League football championship with a run that saw it defeat Penn and Yale in back-to-back thrillers before wrapping it up against Dartmouth.

In fact, TigerBlog wrote a story about one of the seniors for the Dartmouth game program and essentially said that the Penn game was the best game anyone on the team had ever played in - something that was true for seven days, until the Yale game.

The famous play from the Penn game was Rob Toresco's flip back to Jeff Terrell on a 4th-and-goal from the 1 in the second OT, a play that gave Princeton a touchdown.

There were so many others along the way and after, though.

Even on that drive, Brian Brigham made a ridiculous catch to give Princeton a chance inside the 5. Way earlier in the game, Terrell had thrown perfect touchdown passes to Brendan Circle and Jake Staser.

Princeton led 24-10 in the fourth quarter, but the Quakers tied it with 39 seconds to play to force OT. Both teams missed on their first opportunities, Penn on a bad snap on a field goal and Princeton on a blocked field goal.

As Princeton lined up on 4th-and-goal in the second OT, the announcers were debating the merit of going for it, with one vehemently against it. To his credit, he stuck with that even after the play resulted in six miraculous points. To his disfavor, he gave the obligatory "only an Ivy Leaguer would think to do that" when talking about Toresco's pitch.

Then it was Penn's turn, and Rob Irvin threw a beautiful touchdown pass on the first play after Princeton had taken the lead. This set up the wild final sequence, when another bad snap resulted in a broken play.

When Matt Reinert, the holder, picked up the ball, he had an opening to the left side that was way bigger than TB remembered. Had he reached the end zone, it would have been two points and a Penn win.

Instead, he came up two yards short, run out of bounds by Pat McGrath, whose role in the second OT was as big as Toresco's and Terrell's, if not as well-remembered.

There are some moments from some games that TB will watch over and over and over, whenever the opportunity presents itself.

The overtime at the 2001 NCAA men's lacrosse final. The end of the 1996 UCLA game in the NCAA basketball tournament. The end of the 1999 win at the Palestra.

The 2006 Penn-Princeton football game is one of them. Every time TB watches it, he sees something and says "oh yeah, that's how it was."

It was an epic game. In fact, it was the best Princeton football game played on this campus since the 1981 win over Yale.

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