Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Elena Is On Her Way

A year ago, the East Carolina at Old Dominion men's basketball game would have meant nothing to Princeton's assistant event operations director and its marketing/videostreaming guy.

Last night, they were there together, the two Princeton expatriates, one (Steve Kanaby) now the director of championships for the Colonial Athletic Association and the other (Scott Jurgens) the marketing director at ECU.

This morning, TigerBlog arrived to find a picture of the two in his inbox, sent from Jurgens. Kanaby would never have done so, since he would never want to be the center of attention.

Jurgens is all smiles, dressed in his Pirate purple with the swoosh. In a short time at ECU, Jurgens has consumed gallons of purple Kool-Aid, to the point where TB already has an East Carolina t-shirt, cup and other stuff, not to mention multiple pictures of Barnaby the dog in his own purple dress.

Kanaby is his usual I'm-just-happy-to-be-around-an-old-friend self as well, with his understated smile and his neutral dress and his look that suggests he's uncomfortable facing a camera, especially if there's something, anything in the building that he should be doing instead of smiling for a picture.

Next up for ECU is a game against Charlotte, which in addition to being a matchup of two teams who are currently 4-2 is also a game between Princeton's two most recent marketing directors, Jurgens and Charlotte's Nick Konawalik, who has been in North Carolina for a few years now.

As an aside, Konawalik must have about 18 kids by now, TB surmises, since he and his wife seemed to have another one every 3-6 months that he worked here.

The upcoming ECU-Charlotte game started a bunch of emails back and forth yesterday, originating with Jurgens.

The distribution list included maybe five people who work here, as well as others who used to work here but are now spread around the country.

Michael Cross, the Director of Athletics at Bradley, was on the list. So was Jamie Zaninovich, the commissioner of the West Coast Conference.

It's the nature of college athletics, where the staff is a mix of lifers with others who are passing through on their way to moving up the food chain.

One question TB would ask to the two former marketing gentlemen, or to anyone in particular, is what do you do in the name of marketing tomorrow night's women's basketball game?

The Tigers host Delaware tomorrow night at 7 on Carril Court at Jadwin Gym (the men host Lafayette tonight at 7) in a game that when first scheduled figured to be a nice early-season matchup between teams that play more years than they don't.


It's gotten a bit bigger. Delaware is playing for the first time since moving into the national rankings (at No. 24) for the first time in school history.

Princeton is ranked 33rd essentially, if you count how many spaces down from the Top 25 the Tigers are in the "others receiving votes" category. The Tigers have never been ranked in the Top 25 and have never beaten a team that was.

Delaware is 4-0. Princeton is 6-0. Both have looked very, very impressive in the early season.'s Graham Hays called it "the best game of the week" in women's college basketball.

Princeton and Delaware both beat Villanova, while Princeton has also beaten Marist. Delaware has the best win, an 80-71 defeat of Penn State, which is ranked 15th in one poll and 16th in the other this week.

It's as big as any non-league game that has ever been played at Jadwin Gym.

And yet the marketing question that TigerBlog has been wrestling with all week is this: Does Princeton need to play up the fact that Delaware's best player, Elene Delle Donne, is as good as any women's basketball player in the country, or does the game speak for itself?

In other words, is it Princeton's responsibility to say "come see Elena Delle Donne?"

The answer? TB's not sure.

Delle Donne, certainly, is worth coming to see even without the significance of the game. The 6-5 junior's story is by now familiar - she committed to UConn, decided she didn't want to play college basketball, went to Delaware to play volleyball instead, returned to basketball as a sophomore and now leads the nation in scoring at 30.3 points per game.

She scored 40 in the win over Penn State. She had 35 in her first game at Jadwin, two years ago.

Still, does Princeton have to say "come see Elene Delle Donne," in the way that an NBA team might have said "come see Michael Jordan?"

TB has resisted pumping up the Delle Donne angle, instead focusing on how good both teams are.

And hey, Princeton isn't exactly without its own superstar, Niveen Rasheed, who herself is worth coming to see.

Anyway, whether you come to see Delle Donne alone or the game, show up tomorrow night.

You know who will be here?

Sports Illustrated. The AP's national college basketball writer. The New York Post. Mel Greenberg, the foremost women's college basketball writer ever.

And why wouldn't they be?

It's the best game of the week.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Remembering Cappy

TigerBlog can program six FM stations (actually 12, since there's FM1 and FM2, as well as six AM stations) on his car radio.

Of those six, three are currently playing all Christmas music, all the time, between now and, presumably, Christmas.

Actually, one of the stations starting playing the Christmas music shortly before Thanksgiving, to the point were TB was a bit startled by it. Now, instead of having five classic rock options and Little Miss TigerBlog's whatever-it's-called Katy Perry/Lady Gaga/etc. station, TB is down to two classic rocks and the LMTB stuff.

As an aside, TigerBlog probably goes about 50% AM talk, 40% music off his iTunes and 10% FM, so it's not that big a deal.

This morning, during a break in the "Imus In The Morning Show," TB flipped over to FM, forgetting that it's all Christmas music, all the time now. The first song to come on was, by coincidence, TB's favorite Christmas song, entitled, appropriately enough "A Christmas Song," by Nat King Cole, the one that starts "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire ..." So he listened.

Until now, TB has basically been boycotting the Christmas music, not because he doesn't like it - in fact, he has 42 Christmas songs (and two Adam Sandler Hanukkah songs) on his iTunes - but because it's just too early.

Too early, as in not even December. Or even the last day of November.

It's Nov. 29, 2011, for those who don't know the obvious.

That date might not ring a bell as being an important anniversary in Princeton Athletic history, but it is.

It was on this day 50 years ago - Nov. 29, 1961 - that Franklin C. (Cappy) Capon passed away.

TigerBlog has read a ton of information about Cappon and his life and his influence on Princeton University and its athletic program, especially the men's basketball program.

Pete Carril obviously ranks first in coaching wins for men's basketball at Princeton with 514. Cappon ranks second, with 250 - more than Bill Carmody, John Thompson and Sydney Johnson combined.

Here's what TigerBlog knows about Cappon off the top of his head:

* he grew up in Michigan and was a big-time football and basketball player
* he was the head football coach at Kansas for two years in the late 1920s before he left to become an assistant football and basketball coach at Michigan
* he became the Michigan head basketball coach shortly after that
* he came to Princeton as the head coach in 1938 and stayed there until his death, with the exception of three years in the Navy in World War II
* he died of a heart attack in the shower in Dillon Gym after practice, collapsing near long-time Princeton coach Eddie Donovan

Also, Cappon was famous for playing five players the whole game, on the assumption that if you had your best five out there, why take them out, since they should be in good enough shape to play the whole game. And he was also famous for running the weave.

Beyond that, Cappon also coached, among others, Butch van Breda Kolff, who would be hired as the Princeton head coach in 1962, after Jake McCandless was the interim coach for a year.

In that respect, the Princeton basketball family tree can trace its roots to Cappon, who coached van Breda Kolff, who coached Pete Carril at Lafayette and Gary Walters at Princeton. The coaching line in recent years all goes back to Carril - Camody as a longtime assistant, Thompson and Joe Scott as former players and assistants and Sydney Johnson and now Mitch Henderson as former players.

There can't be too many programs in any sport that can draw up its lineage quite like that, all the way back to 1938.

As for the things about Cappon that TB didn't know, he went to Cappon's Wikipedia page, which presumably must all be true, right?

From there, TB learned details about Cappon's youth and his family, and it's all interesting stuff.

He also learned that Cappon offered up this quote about the value of athletics, given at his old high school's banquet in April of 1952:
"There are some basic principles that we're gradually losing sight of in America, but we still have them in athletics. When you come out for an athletic team, your race, creed or color makes no difference. Nobody asks you who you know or how much money you've got. The athletic field is one place where the merit system still takes precedence over the seniority system."

It's more of the Princeton Athletic lineage, possibly the earliest documented mention of what is now called "Education Through Athletics."

Cappy Cappon. Gone 50 years today.

But not forgotten. Not in the least.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bond, James Bond

There was a wide variety to choose from last night, all within a 14-channel range on the TV.

As an aside, a 14-channel range seems fairly small these days, whereas back when TigerBlog was watching "I Dream of Jeannie" on the old black-and-white TV a long time ago, there weren't even 14 total channels.

Anyway, last night had to pick from "The Music Man," "The Silence of the Lambs," an episode of "Criminal Minds" where the guide said "the BAU team searches for a deranged serial killer who ..." and then cut off because of space, "Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band Live At Madison Square Garden" and "The Man With the Golden Gun."

TB had seen all of them before, so he flipped around between them. Mostly, he would settle on, somewhat surprisingly, "The Man With the Golden Gun."

For those who don't know, it's a James Bond movie, one of the ones from when Roger Moore played 007.

TigerBlog has seen every Bond movie that starred either Moore or Sean Connery and has never seen one that starred anyone else. This is a point of principle.

The Bond movies starring Moore and Connery are some of the best movies ever made. The ones that star others might be; TB will never know.

Of course, he's made up for not seeing any of the others by seeing the Moore/Connery ones a million times each. He ranks them in this order:
1) Live And Let Die - Best Bond song, plus Moore's first, by the way
2) The Spy Who Loved Me - second best song ("Nobody Does It Better," by Carly Simon), first appearance by "Jaws" and also the best opening sequence, where Bond skis away from the bad guys and eventually off the mountain, with a Union Jack on his parachute
3) Diamonds Are Forever - Great villain, Connery in total control
4) Goldfinger - MotherBlog's favorite, maybe the best villain
5) Octopussy - just for the scene where he stops the nuclear bomb from going off by itself

The movies all follow the same basic idea, that some superwealthy archvillain has figured out a way to basically end the world, only to have James Bond chip away at the plan little by little. Helped along, of course, by a beautiful sidekick and some great gadgets that Q has come up with, not to mention some great songs ("All-Time High," by Rita Coolidge, from Octopussy, is another great one).

And what would a Bond movie be without The Line, the one where he's asked his name and he replies, well, you know how he replies.

Bond movies are not for everyone, since you to have to suspend your sense of reality to think that 1) any of these plots could possibly happen and 2) that Bond wouldn't have been killed years and years ago.

If you can get by that, though, there's not much in the way of pure entertainment that's going to beat it.

"The Man With the Golden Gun" isn't in TB's top five, but it's another great one, with all the requisite Bond elements. The more TB flipped around last night, the more he kept coming back to it.

It was a pretty good weekend for sports on television as well, with some big college football games, a strong NFL offering (that continues tonight with the Giants at the Saints) and more college basketball than there should be for Thanksgiving.

In fact, on Thanksgiving Day alone, there were 14 Division I men's basketball game, followed by 68 the next day.

All of these games required players, coaches and of course support staff - athletic trainers, athletic communications, radio, administrators - to be away on the holiday.

As TB watched some of the bigger tournaments, he was stunned? amused? by the fact that there were so many empty seats at every venue.

One such venue was the tournament at Atlantis in the Bahamas, the one where Harvard defeated Utah, Florida State and Central Florida to win the championship. For the Crimson to come home with the championship of an event that included two ranked teams, including defending NCAA champion Connecticut, is a nice achievement, and the team is to be congratulated.

At the same time, Princeton was going 1-2 in its three games at Bucknell, falling to the host team (an NCAA team a year ago) and Morehead State (who beat Louisville in the opening round of the NCAA tournament a year ago) before defeating Division II West Alabama.

So what does it all mean as far as the Ivy League race is concerned?

Not much.

No more than it did in 1998-99, when Princeton won the Rainbow Classic by beating Florida State, Texas and UNC Charlotte on consecutive nights in Honolulu. TB, by the way, really enjoyed the location of that one, more so than, say, the Pepsi Oneida Nation's Classic that he attended in Green Bay.

That year, Texas went on to be a seventh seed in the NCAA tournament, while Charlotte was a fifth seed. No offense to the teams that Harvard beat, but they didn't look like they'd be wearing white uniforms in the NCAA tournament this March.

Harvard looked really good over the weekend, completely taking all three opponents out of their offenses. Even if Harvard itself struggled mightily against Florida State in a somewhat unwatchable game in the semifinal, its defense never let up.

Harvard has a lot of good pieces - experience, shooters, great foul shooters, defenders, rebounders. It's a lot like Princeton was in 1998-99.

So what happened that year?

Princeton got in the league after its non-conference season, which included a win over Alabama=Birmingham, another NCAA team, and went 11-3, losing to Harvard, Yale and Penn.

In short, it's not easy to breeze through the league. Even Cornell didn't do it the year it went to the Sweet 16, and in fact the Big Red lost to Penn and barely beat Princeton by three points twice.

Harvard is the clear favorite. Its run to the Ivy title will not be easy, and it's hardly a foregone conclusion.

Princeton, struggling to find its way in the early season, will get better. Its rotation will become clearer, and the adjustment to a new head coach will move along.

Remember, it's not even December yet, let alone February.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"As God Is My Witness, I Thought Turkeys Could Fly"

If a line was extended out from the basket past where Ahmed El-Nokali let his last-ever collegiate shot go, it was have cut TigerBlog in half.

As an aside, all lines are by definition extended out, or at least that's how TB remembers Mrs. Mancuso's geometry class.

The gym was Freedom Hall at Louisville, and it was the 2002 NIT game between Princeton and Rick Pitino's Cardinals. Ed Persia had given Princeton a one-point lead with about 10 seconds left, only to see Louisville fly down the court and regain its own lead.

And now here was Ahmed, with the ball as time was expiring. He let a shot go from a step or two across midcourt, near the sideline, right in front of where TB was sitting.

The ball seemed to hang in the air forever, and the entire time, it looked like it was going to swish through. It was on the perfect path - until it hit the rim and bounced back.

When John Mack forwarded TigerBlog a picture of Ahmed and his newborn son Adam, for some reason, that shot was the first thing that came to TB's mind. And how it seems at the same time like it was a million years ago and like it was yesterday.

That's sort of how it works around here.

An email from John Mack (a 2000 graduate and Roper Trophy-winning track runner) with a picture of Ahmed's son, and all of the sudden, the dual realities of how vivid the memories of the two of them as Princeton athletes are coupled with the idea that it's been more than a decade since one and nearly a decade since the other have competed here.

A few generations of Princeton athletes have come and gone since then.

TigerBlog thought about the two of them, Mack and El-Nokali, yesterday, as he sat in Jadwin for the Princeton-Elon men's basketball game.

As an aside, TB read several recaps of last night's game, and none of them used the lead he would have, which would have gone something like this: "Given the choice of which Douglas Davis game-winning jump shot went in and which rimmed out, no Princeton fan would have chosen the Elon game this November over the Harvard play-off game last March."

Or something like: "Douglas Davis has earned a lifetime pass to being called a clutch player, and a miss on a potential game-winner against Elon on a November night at Jadwin did nothing to change that."

Anyway, what TB was mostly thinking about was how lucky he's been to have the opportunity to be around so many great young people in his career here, people like Mack and El-Nokali and people from the years before them and since.

Maybe it's because it was two days before Thanksgiving and TB was being a bit reflective.

How many times have you been at a Thanksgiving dinner and everyone is asked what they're thankful for, only to give the standard responses. It's not that people aren't actually thankful for the good things in their life; it's just that while the turkey is being passed around isn't the right time to think about such things.

But a rainy Tuesday night at Jadwin was, at least for TB.

As he sat there, he couldn't help but be thankful for his life, for TigerBlog Jr. and Little Miss TigerBlog, for the people he's met here at Princeton, for the experiences his little piece of the University has opened up for him.

He was also thankful for the big windows in the front of Jadwin, the ones that TB can't imagine how much time he's spent looking out at, staring across the track to the stands and press box, first of Palmer Stadium and now Princeton Stadium.

These windows look out on an idyllic scene, one that calms TB down when life starts to get overwhelming, a scene that reminds him of how lucky he's been to stumble into this place, how thankful he is for it, how he knows that not everyone is as lucky.

TigerBlog has written on this day every year about how much he loves Thanksgiving, more for the event than for the significance.

The last two years, he's copied and pasted what he wrote about the holiday, about football and family and parades and movies and TV episodes and all.

This year, he was thinking a little more about what he himself should think of every day, that he's an extraordinarily lucky person.

Of course, Thanksgiving is all of those other things as well.

And, for some reason, TB has always forgotten what just might be the best Thanksgiving Day moment for any TV show, the "Turkey Drop" episode of "WKRP In Cincinnati," which for TigerBlog's money is the most underrated show in television history.

If you've never seen the show itself, it's hysterical, with a hint of touching on some pretty big issues every now and then, much more so than would have been expected from what sort of billed itself as a campy sitcom. It had great characters - Les Nessman, Johnny Fever, Mr. Carlson, Venus Flytrap, Herb - and it took the whole "Ginger/Mary Ann" concept to another level with Jennifer and Bailey.

Back on Oct. 30, 1978, the show had an episode in which the station manager (Mr. Carlson) plans an elaborate promotion for Thanksgiving, which turns out to be a drop of live turkeys from a helicopter, not realizing that turkeys aren't quite like other birds.

TV Guide ranked the episodes as the 40th funniest episode in history. To show you what a great show "WKRP" was, TB doesn't even have that one in the top five in the show's history, though it is hysterical.

Anyway, take six minutes today and watch this clip, which covers the main part of it.

And have a great Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Finish Line

If TigerBlog was looking forward to any single event on the fall schedule, it was the Iy League Heptagonal cross country championships.

The races, usually held at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, were moving to Princeton's West Windsor field course for the 2011 race only, while construction was being completed at Van Cortlandt.

TB hadn't missed a Heps cross country race in years. Always the Friday before the Cornell football game, TB had gone to maybe eight straight - and the weather had been perfect each time.

One of those years, TB let Gary Walters drive, only to see Princeton's Director of Athletics briefly drive the wrong way down a one-way street and then in through the exit of a McDonalds, pulling up to the drive-through window facing the wrong way, leaving TigerBlog to try to explain it all to the very confused kid at the drive-through who gives out the food, not takes the money. Eventually, it all worked out fine.

This year, it was going to be easy to get there.

TB had it all figured. Park for football. Walk over to cross country. Walk back to football.

So what happened?

Of course, it snowed. On Oct. 29. Before Halloween.

TigerBlog remembers a time when there'd be a few months of fall, a few months of winter and a few months of spring. Now, it seems like there are the same number of fall days, winter days and spring days, only they're not in the same order that they used to be.

The snow back in October turned this area into a nightmare for a few days. In the three-plus weeks since, the weather has been nearly perfect, with more days in the 60s than not. Of course, this is November.

Anyway, TB got cheated out of the cross country race, or at least didn't bundle himself up to watch it in the snow and wet and cold. Instead, he went straight to the football game and the warmth of the press box.

Cross country season ended yesterday, with a distinctly Ivy/Heps feel to the women's race and the No. 19 as the key number for the men.

For the women, Princeton's Alex Banfich finished fifth overall, which is only two spots behind where she finished at Heps. Think about that. The No. 3 runner at the Ivy League race finished fifth at the NCAA race.

The Heps winner was Dartmouth sophomore Abbey D'Agostino, who finished third at the NCAA race. Columbia's Waverly Neer, who was second at Heps, finished 40th at the NCAAs.

As for Banfich, her time of 19:45.0 was 51 seconds faster than her time a year ago on the same course, when she finished 20th.

TigerBlog has no idea if weather conditions or anything else impacted her from last year to this year, but his sense is that shaving 51 seconds of her time is pretty impressive.

On the men's side, Donn Cabral finished 19th, earning (like Banfich) another All-America honor. Cabral's 19th-place finish helped the Princeton men finish 19th overall, and also like Banfich, he had a huge improvement over a year ago, running 42 seconds faster and going from 34th to 19th.

In addition, Cabral's showing was the best by a Princeton runner since Paul Morrison finished ninth in 1999.

Paul Morrison was an unassuming young man who worked in the OAC as a student worker who never said a word, let alone that he was a dominant long distance runner, and it wasn't until after Morrison's first major impact in a race that TB put it together that the kid in the back was the great runner.

Of course, the end of cross country season doesn't mean the end for the runners, who go into indoor and then outdoor season.

For Cabral, hopefully it won't end until the Summer Olympics in London in the steeplechase.

And then it'll start again, next cross country season, when the Heps go back to Van Cortlandt. TB's predictions - it won't snow, and he'll be there.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Penguin Wins Again

TigerBlog recently had a meeting with one of Princeton's ESPN contacts, and of course at one point the conversation turned to how well Princeton's events that the network televises rate.

Anyone want to guess which sport does the best?

Okay, granted, it's not putting up numbers like the NFL or "American Idol." Still, anyone want to guess?

And speaking of the NFL, if you were watching the Giants-Eagles last night and saw the play where DeSean Jackson wiped out a 50-yard reception by drawing a flag for taunting after tossing the ball to Giants' defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, one of the key pieces of what happened was lost on Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth, though to his credit, Collinsworth did rip Jackson for acting like an idiot.

No, the key part of the play was that had the Giants not also committed a penalty, then the completion would have stood and it would have been a deadball 15-yard penalty against the Eagles, resulting in a net of 35 yards. Because the Giants were also guilty of a foul, the penalties offset, putting the ball back at the original line of scrimmage, which was the Eagles' three or so.

TigerBlog cannot think of another situation - nor can he remember seeing one - where a team benefited so much by committing a penalty.

And speaking of "American Idol," TigerBlog has never watched it.

Anyway, back to the original question. Which Princeton sport has drawn the best ratings on ESPN?

The answer is ... men's water polo.

In fact, ESPN loves the Princeton men's water polo games, and with good reason.

The games the network does always pit two Top 20 teams, and they fit nicely into a 90-minute block. Plus, there's the "hey, this is something different on TV" factor, where it's not just another football or basketball game.

In fact, this year, the men's soccer game between Princeton and Lafayette also did better than expected, perhaps for similar reasons.

The men's water polo team is coming off a huge weekend after winning the CWPA Eastern championship and earning a bid into the NCAA Final Four. For Princeton, it's the fourth Final Four appearance and second in three years.

The last time, 2009, the NCAA Championships were held at DeNunzio Pool, and that event ranks among the coolest events that TB has seen on Princeton's campus. Princeton would win the consolation game to finish third.

As for this time, Princeton had a stunning win in the semifinals, rallying from three goals down with four minutes to go to tie it with 36 seconds left and then win it in overtime. The championship game wasn't as dramatic, as Princeton knocked off Navy 10-7.

As the Eastern champion, Princeton automatically advances to this year's NCAA championship, to be held at the University of California on Dec. 3/4.

If you've never seen water polo, it's a ridiculously wild sport, played by athletes who are in sick shape. You have to be to play the game, which requires constant treading water and swimming, all while someone is kicking/whacking/punching you under the surface.

The Princeton coach is Luis Nicolao, who coaches the men's team and the women's team and is a huge fan, of among other things, Bruce Springsteen and the Oakland Raiders.

As TB likes to say, his door is always open on the balcony, partly because it gets so hot in his office when the door is closed. Still, Nicolao takes full advantage to come in, talk about what's going on with his teams or with the Boss or anything else, and it's rare that he'll leave here having failed to draw big laughs.

Of course, his sense of humor isn't limited to the OAC. Nicolao once showed up for a Princeton Varsity Club luncheon dressed only in a speedo.

During one of the ESPN telecasts of a Princeton match, one of the people in the TV truck asked which one the Princeton head coach was, and the response was "the one who looks like a penguin."

TB doesn't quite see the resemblance, but hey, it was funny.

So congrats to the Penguin and his team on the big weekend - and another trip to the Final Four.

Friday, November 18, 2011

13 Days, 11 Games

When TigerBlog saw that Delaware's Elena Delle Donne went for 40 points in Delaware's 80-71 upset of No. 12 Penn State last night, his first thought was that he'll get to see the 6' 5" scoring machine in person when the Blue Hens come to Jadwin Gym on Dec. 1.

Delle Donne, for those who don't know, originally committed to play at Connecticut after earning multiple high school national player of the year awards before changing her mind, saying she was burned out from the sport. Instead, she went to Delaware and played volleyball for a year (being named to the Colonial Athletic Association All-Rookie team) before returning to basketball - and she has been lighting it up every since.

In her first two years, Delle Donne scored 1,331 points for the Hens, despite missing 11 games due to Lyme Disease.

One of the 11 games she missed was against Princeton. A year earlier, at Jadwin Gym, Delle Donne put up 35 against the Tigers, along with 10 rebounds, while shooting 12 for 21 from the field, 4 for 8 from three-point range.

Princeton, though, won the game 68-59, as no other Delaware player had more than eight. Princeton, meanwhile, had four players in double figures, three of whom (Niveen Rasheed, Lauren Edwards and Laura Johnson) are still playing.

Anyway, the Princeton-Delaware women's game is less than two weeks away.

Of course, between now and then, there are still 10 other basketball games for Princeton, six for the men and four for the women. Of those 10 games, six are at Jadwin Gym and another - the women's game Nov. 27 at Rider - is six miles away.

This, by the way, is in a 12-day stretch that also includes Thanksgiving Day, when neither team would be playing anyway.

It starts tomorrow with a Jadwin Gym doubleheader, as the men play Buffalo at 12:30 and the women play Villanova at 3.

The women host Marist Monday, and the men host Elon Tuesday. And on it goes from there.

Honestly, TB has lost track of which game is when, there are so many of them.

By the time the Delaware women's game rolls around, Princeton's two teams will have played 14 total games. Keep in mind, the Delaware game in on Dec. 1, which used to the official first day that college basketball games could be played.

And now, 14 games will have been played in November.

Already, television is flooded with college basketball games, even more so now that ESPN has to fill in for time slots where the NBA would have been playing.

TigerBlog has said this before, but college basketball - way more than college football - is in danger of oversaturation. It's not even Thanksgiving yet, and already almost every game on TV is starting to look the same.

The fact that every game is on TV, combined with how few recognizable college basketball players there are and the total dilution of the value of the regular season because of conference tournaments and then the NCAA tournament, means that college basketball needs to be careful about its product.

One game that interested TB was, of course, Princeton's 60-58 loss at North Carolina State the other night.

TB has seen three Princeton-N.C. State games in person, and Princeton won all three of those. In fact, it was then-N.C. State coach Les Robinson who said in a tiny press conference in his cramped office in the Reynolds Coliseum that playing Princeton was "like going to the dentist," a line repeated a billion times since.

The 1997 Princeton-N.C. State was in the final a preseason tournament at the Meadowlands, won by Princeton 38-36.

The game in the NIT in 1999 remains one of the best Princeton games TB has ever seen. It was the last men's basketball game played at Reynolds, and the noise level was almost as shocking as how well Brian Earl played to lead the Tigers.

The game the other night was close, and it would have been great for Princeton to pull out the win.

TB thought the Tigers were in trouble when they shot 6 for 7 from three-point range in the first half but only led by three. If you're going to shoot that well in a half, you need a cushion, because probability says the shots won't keep falling in the second half.

Still, the Tigers did take a big step forward in the game. And with such a busy schedule coming up, there's a chance to get to know much more about this team.

The most important thing to keep in mind about Princeton is that Mitch Henderson is in his first few games as a head coach. It's easy to think of Henderson and Sydney Johnson as being similar in age, which they are, and as former teammates, but the reality is that Johnson is now in his fifth year as a head coach.

Henderson has two games under his belt. Johnson's first Princeton team went 6-23; Courtney Banghart's went 7-23. It takes awhile for a head coach - especially a young one - to develop.

TigerBlog is confident that Henderson will be fine. In fact, way better than fine.

And if he needs a few games to adjust, well, then the schedule is going to give him that chance very quickly.

Doubleheader tomorrow.

And a bunch of games after that for Princeton basketball. In fact, it's 13 days, 11 games, ending with Elena Delle Donne.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fiedler, Elias - And Dibilio

TigerBlog was at Memorial Field in 1993, on the day that Dartmouth defeated Princeton 28-22 in what could have been the wildest Ivy League game TB has ever seen.

That game, which can basically be called the Jay Fiedler/Keith Elias game, was played on the last weekend of the season, as the Princeton-Dartmouth game always is now.

As an aside, Princeton and Penn used to travel to Cornell and Dartmouth to open the season every year and then would host those two to end the season and then flip-flop the next year, opening at Dartmouth and hosting Cornell, say, if it had been the other way around the year before. This was done because of the threat of bad weather in November in Hanover and Ithaca, and it wasn't until 1991 that those two hosted the season finale every other year; the first November Princeton at Dartmouth game was played for the Ivy title in near-60 degree weather.

Anyway, the 1993 game was the final one in the careers of Fiedler, the Dartmouth quarterback, and Elias, the Princeton running back. And it remains a classic.

Elias ran for 188 yards, while Fiedler shook off a 3-for-15 first half to go 13 for 20 for 225 yards and two touchdowns in the second half, including the game-winner in the final two minutes.

Princeton and Dartmouth entered that game having both lost to Penn, who was undefeated and playing Cornell in its finale. A Penn loss would have given a share of the championship to the winner of the Princeton-Dartmouth game, and the scores coming in from Penn-Cornell had the Big Red up well into the second half.

By then, Princeton and Dartmouth had played through sunshine, a blizzard and then back to sunshine, reaching the late fourth quarter even at 22-22.

Also, as TB recalls, Dartmouth had no kicker on the team, which meant that it couldn't attempt field goals and had to go for two after each touchdown.

This was still in the pre-overtime days, so the game would have ended in a tie had it been even at the end of regulation. And a tie would have eliminated both teams and given Penn the championship, even if the Quakers lost.

The result was that both teams had to play the final five minutes or so as if they were losing, no tied, meaning they had to go for it on fourth down and long, even in their own territory. For Princeton, the fact that Dartmouth had no kicker made it less risky - though Fiedler came through anyway.

Penn would come back and beat Cornell 17-14, so the game became irrelevant to the final standings. The combination of the wild weather, the wild game and the end of the careers of two of the greatest Ivy football players of all time - really both could be considered among the top 15-25 players in league history - made the game that day at Dartmouth an all-time Ivy classic.

Ask anyone who was there.

Ask TigerBlog, who was there. In fact, it was the only football game he's ever seen at Dartmouth.

For all the years he covered Princeton football at the newspaper and then for all the years he was the football contact here, that's the only time he ever went to Dartmouth for football. He's been to the Upper Valley a bunch of times in men's basketball and men's lacrosse, but something would always come up to prevent him from going to that football game (usually early-season basketball, though once it was a cruise to the Caribbean; as an aside, TB hates cruises and will never go on another one, because to do all the stuff on the ship you have to stay up really, really late and then to go to the islands, you have to get up really, really early, so what's the point, just pick an island and go and relax).

Princeton is at Dartmouth in football Saturday to wrap up the 2011 season, one that will see the Tigers go either 1-9 or 2-8.

Still, when TB thinks back to the 2011 season, he won't think about the record. Nope, he'll think about the astonishing season of Chuck Dibilio.

Going back to the beginning of the season, Dibilio's name was one thrown around as "may play a bit." The words "can't miss" were never uttered, at least not by anyone that TB heard.

Now, as Dibilio heads to Dartmouth, he has 1,002 rushing yards, accomplished in nine games, one of which was a seven-carry, 20-yard night against Bucknell. In fact, Dibilio had 176 yards in three games (58.7 per game) and has 826 in the last six (137.7 per game).

The record for rushing yards by a Princeton freshman prior to Dibilio was 346 yards, set by Cameron Atkinson. Dibilio needs 36 yards against Dartmouth to triple that number.

Dibilio has routinely put up numbers that would be career-highs for others. TB is still astonished that he went into Franklin Field and went for 130 against Penn.

TB's biggest fear for this weekend, by the way, would be one carry for minus-3 yards, which would put him back to 999, followed by an injury that knocks him out of the game. That's the absolute worst-case scenario.

No other player in Ivy League football history has ever gone from high school one year to 1,000 yards rushing in the league the next. Clifton Dawson, who transferred from Northwestern to Harvard, had 1,187 yards as a freshman, but that was after his year in Evansville.

All of this begs one question of Princeton football fans.

What would you rather be on Sunday, 5-5 for the 2011 season with no Dibilio or 1-9 with three more years to build a team around a total horse of a running back?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Three Months

TigerBlog knew Petey the dog for most of his life. Even now that he's gone, TB can still hear his unique bark/howl or see him as he turns his head to the side. For that matter, he can still hear his owner, Princeton men's soccer coach Jim Barlow, call him not by his name but instead "Pal," which is what he almost always called him. Unfortunately, Petey passed away recently at the age of 13, which while being a long life for a dog, doesn't make it any easier when the end finally comes.

Today, in a guest TigerBlog, Jim Barlow remembers his "Pal."

August 19th. The date on the calendar that had been circled for so long.

The first day of preseason. Finally, after nine long months of waiting, the season was finally here.

The first day of preseason is usually one of the best days of the year for me. It is filled with the excitement and freshness of a new season, the curiosity of what the incoming freshmen will bring to the team, how the returning players have prepared over the summer. It is the beginning of the best three months of the year.

Each day brings the opportunity to do what you love, to work, to improve. There are games to coach or watch every day. Rivalries are renewed, and rematches are intense.

August 19th had finally arrived.

This year, however, day one of the fall season turned out to be one of my worst days ever. As I was getting ready to leave my house for our second practice session on that rainy Friday evening, my 13- year-old, one-eyed beagle named Pete (he was born blind in one eye) jumped off the couch to get a treat.

He had done this thousands of times over the years, but this time it went horribly wrong. When he hit the carpet, his back right leg snapped in half.

I'm sure most dog owners think of their pet as part of the family, but
Pete ran our house. He traveled everywhere with my wife and me – vacations, family gatherings, sporting events. He became the "mayor" of my grandparents' nursing home, prancing up and down the halls of Meadow Lakes and spending hours cheering up any senior citizen who was sad, lonely, or not feeling well.

When Pete did not travel with us, he kept watch for us from his perch above the window in the guest bedroom, and when his eye would spot our car turning into the driveway, he would sprint down the stairs and howl so loud the entire neighborhood could hear him. Only the gift of his favorite "pupperoni" treats could quiet him down. On days when my wife's illness kept her in bed, Pete refused to leave her side.

He was also a big Princeton Soccer fan, and became an unofficial mascot of the men's soccer team until pets were no longer allowed in the facilities.

I remember when we won the Ivy League title in 1999 and Pete was still a puppy. He sprinted across the field after the final whistle, and though I thought he was running over to see me, in reality he smelled some fried chicken that had been left under the bleachers. He dove right into the bucket of chicken, and I spent the post-game celebration trying to keep him from choking on chicken bones.

Pete didn't care if we won or lost, he was always happy to see me.

His companionship helped me through some of the most difficult times in
Princeton Soccer history, including the deaths of adored members of our Princeton Soccer family Rob Myslik and Vaughn Lujan.

The news from our trusted vet after Pete's injury was not good. His leg broke because he had cancer, and it would need to be amputated. The cancer probably did not start in the leg, so the amputation would not be a cure, but could give Pete some more quality time with us, probably three months.

Three months. The length of our season. For us it was a no brainer and we committed to the surgery. After a few days in the hospital, Pete was back, happy to be home, learning how to walk on three legs, and getting more and more spoiled by us.

We cherished every day with him, every walk in the neighborhood, every happy greeting we received when we walked in the door. We tried not to count the days but instead to make the most of the time we had.

But over time he became weaker and weaker and could no longer support himself on his three legs, and his organs began to shut down as the cancer spread.

On Nov. 4th, the day before we played Penn in the next-to-last game of the season and close to three months after the amputation, we were overwhelmed by sadness as we held Pete and said good-bye as our vet put him to sleep.

Looking back, those three months with him seemed to go so fast.

And so did the fall season. Where did it go? It feels like yesterday that we were sitting in the Zanfrini room for our opening meeting, gearing up for the first practice.

Sadness returned when the final whistle blew on our season in a 2-1 loss to Yale on Saturday. It was not a good year for our team as we dropped eight one-goal games, playing six overtime matches, but we could not find the formula to repeat as Ivy champs and make a third consecutive run to the NCAA playoffs.

Regardless of how the season goes, though, the last game of the year is always depressing. It means there are almost nine months to go until preseason arrives again.

Nine long months.

For fall sport athletes, the season goes so fast. For us, it’s 12 days of preseason, 17 matches crammed into just over ten weeks, and, just like that, it's over. The season has been over for just a few days, and I miss it already.
I’m already counting the days until we can start again.

Next year, however, it will be without one of my closest companions.

During his last three months Petey helped me remember that it's not how much time you have, but what you make of your time.

It’s a great message for Princeton athletes, as your seasons and your time here go so fast.

Rest in peace Petey are missed.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hoop It Up

TigerBlog took a few labor history classes while in college.

While he's hardly a trade unionist, TB at least could feel empathy for what some of those workers went through on their jobs and how the conditions that they were forced to work under were not only designed to keep them in poverty for their entire lives but also dangerous, in many cases life-threateningly so.

TB studied railroad labor, including the Pullman strike of the 1890s, and attempts for coal miners to unionize. He remembers some big dates and events from the movement, like the Haymarket riots in Chicago, even if many of the details long ago faded.

Still, even if he can't remember everything about American labor relations in the 19th century, he's pretty sure that the current NBA labor situation doesn't exactly have the same issues.

In fact, it's pretty much insane that an entire NBA season is on the verge of being scrapped, not with all the money that these two sides have, not with what the average non-NBA-playing American is going through these days.

And yet there they are, talking about how the collective bargaining process has broken down and how, according to the NBA commissioner, they're facing the "nuclear winter" for the league.

There are two things that the basketball players - not the owners as much - aren't taking into account:

1) they are not the NFL
2) very few people miss their product

It's the second one that is most important.

During the NFL lockout, TB did not for one second think that a single minute of regular-season NFL football this year would be lost to the labor situation.

During the NBA lockout, there hasn't been one second where TB thought they'd actually play.

And he could care less. So he can't watch the Knicks? Oh well.

Fan loyalty in the NFL is about a million times what it is in the NBA. Besides, major college football isn't a substitute for the NFL, but college basketball definitely is for the NBA.

If you're looking for a team to rally around on a basketball court while the NBA players try to figure out how to save face (that's what this is really about, not appearing to be weak), then try the Princeton women's basketball team.

Princeton is 2-0 in women's basketball this season - and 52-8 going back to the start of the 2009-10 season.

Princeton has defeated St. Joe's - a very good Atlantic 10 team - by 17 points and Lafayette by 40 points after last night's 87-47 Tiger win.

The Princeton-Lafayette series stood at 18-17 Princeton after the Leopards won by two in the 2008-09 season. In the three games since, Princeton is 3-0, with a combined margin of victory of 105 points.

What Courtney Banghart and her staff have done with the women's basketball team is extraordinary.

Princeton had shared Ivy titles in 1985, 1999 and 2006 and had never played in the NCAA tournament prior to Banghart's arrival in 2007-08.

Her first team went 7-23; her first recruiting class is going to consist of two 1,000-point scorers. One of those, Lauren Edwards, reached the 1,000-mark last night, while Devona Allgood is closing in on the mark. Niveen Rasheed, a junior, will get there by the end of this year - and would have been really close or there already had she not lost 17 games last year to a torn ACL.

The talent level that Princeton has is remarkable, to the point that the Tigers pushed a 24-point lead to 40 last night against the Leopards while having five non-starters on the court.

In addition, the team is entertaining to watch, as they push the ball, cause turnovers, shoot threes, score in bunches. Rasheed is the complete package, as her 22-point, seven-rebound, four-steal, three-assist performance - in just 23 minutes - last night shows.

TB knows that women's basketball is a tough sell and that a large percentage of the male audience is never going to want to watch the "girls" play.

That, though, is a mistake, especially in this case.

The women's team here is a special group, one that's in Year 3 of a tremendous run. Coming up in the next week are two great home games, Saturday at 3 (as the second part of a doubleheader that starts with the men's game against Buffalo at 12:30) against a strong Villanova team and the Monday at 7 against Marist, which reached the Sweet 16 recently and which has become a perennial Top 25-35 team.

Tell you what. Come see those games, and then make up your own mind about this team.

It's better than staying home and watching the Sixers-Raptors.

What's that? Oh yeah, you couldn't if you wanted to.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Saturday With William

William Anderson was on his fourth bagel when Chuck Dibilio reached the 100-yard mark against Yale Saturday afternoon.

By that point, William had also had more than his share of those little brownie/mini-cake/cookie things, the chocolate ones with the sprinkles on top. Of course, TigerBlog had had his share as well.

TB's Saturday was spent first at the football game and then later at men's soccer and finally men's basketball. And William - age 9 - was with TB for all of it.

William is TigerBlog Jr's friend Matthew's younger brother. Since TBJ and Matthew have moved onto the high school ranks, they are no longer interested in - or eligible to be, for that matter - doing what they've done for the last six years or so, and that's be the ball boys at Princeton men's basketball.

William, a fourth-grader, was interested in being the next generation, and he had his debut Saturday night, when the new group really took over in force.

The only way for William to get to the basketball game on time, though, was for him to come with TB earlier in the day, since William's parents were tied up at a fall lacrosse tournament with TBJ and Matthew.

And so, the rather unlikely partnership for the day of TigerBlog and William was born.

TB is usually the public address announcer for football games here, but because the OAC is operating one person short for a few weeks, TB had to cover the men's soccer game at 3, or before the football game ended. As such, he pressed Bill Bromberg, the basketball PA announcer, into service for the football game as well.

As an aside, TB is pretty sure that Bromberg became the fifth public address announcer for a football game at Princeton Stadium, joining TB, the late (and better than great) John McAdams, Wendy Herm (that's right, a woman) and Ian Auzenne.

Anyway, TB arrived shortly after kickoff, with William in tow, of course, and stayed at football until just after halftime.

In that time, William was able to make a successful assault on the food at the Princeton Varsity Club reception, being held in the Class of 1956 lounge. TB did, as well.

William didn't watch much of the football game, instead choosing to sit at the tables in the press box from where the field isn't visible.

TB had warned William, like he does all people - kids or adults - who venture into the press box that cheering is not permitted there. In William's case, TB needn't have worried.

William is as stoic as any nine-year-old out there. He likes to laugh and he smiles a lot, but his smile and frown aren't much different. In short, he has the perfect poker face.

Perhaps the highlight of the day wasn't any of the three games but instead the walk from the football stadium to the soccer field, during which time William asked questions about what went on in each building.

Like his older brother Matthew, William has spent a good deal of time on the Princeton campus, but almost all of it has been in athletic venues. This time, walking around the campus on a perfect fall day, William was being quite inquisitive.

TB told William that Fine Hall is where math is taught, which led to this exchange:
William: "Math is my best subject."
TB: "Go in there and tell them to give you a problem."
William: "I don't know college math. I only know elementary school math."

William was intrigued by the appearance of the new chemistry building and wondered why there was the need to build another "science" building (neurosciences) when there are so many others.

He liked the concept of the dorms, so that the students who "don't live around here don't have to go back and forth every day."

He made fun of TigerBlog for not knowing what went on in a particular building, even though TB has worked here, in William's word, "forever."

To get William from soccer to basketball, TB enlisted women's soccer goalkeeper Kristin Watson, a student worker at football who came to Roberts Stadium and took William to Jadwin Gym, where he met up with the other ballboys and "a very nice lady," whom TB surmises was either event operations director Karen Malec or ticket manager Stephanie Sutton.

TB came to basketball after the soccer game, which would have had one of the most improbable storylines ever had Paola Iaccarino's header in the final two minutes not been snagged by Yale goalkeeper Bobby Thalman at the last second.

Iaccarino, a senior, scored his first career goal early in the game (the final one of his career), and he came torturously close to tying it at 2-2 late. Instead, it was a 2-1 Yale win.

Then it was off to Jadwin to watch the men's basketball opener and see William's ballboy debut, which included one time when William danced to the house music as he swept the floor.

William sat at one end of the floor with another ballboy, and a group of three - including Nick Bates, son of men's lacrosse coach Chris Bates - sat at the other.

TB thought back to Bobby Davidson, who was a ballboy long before he went on to play at the College of New Jersey. And to Zach DiGregorio and Lior Levy, who were the ballboys who got TBJ involved. And TBJ and Matthew, whose ballboy careers ended a year ago.

Eventually, William, Nick and the new generation will outgrow being ballboys also. For now, they're in their ballboy prime, and it's hard to imagine how kids in their age range can have more fun than to be part of a game the way they are.

When it was over, William said two words to TB that weren't exactly surprising - "I'm hungry." All TB had to offer at that point where Pop Tarts, which William happily snagged, even though he said he didn't like the S'Mores kind, which really meant he'd never had them before and was sold on his first bite.

With that, TB's eight hours or so with William came to end. He asked if he could have a pass to come back to the press box next year for football, because "the food is so good."

When it was over, TB was struck by the fact that he takes it for granted that he walks around the Princeton campus every day, which is something he shouldn't do.

It's an extraordinary place to be, whether it's one of the busiest athletic Saturdays in recent memory or just a quiet weekday in the summer.

It becomes even more remarkable when viewed through the eyes of a nine-year-old.

Wide eyes, indeed. Inquisitive ones. Innocent ones.

TB is pretty sure William had a good time.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans' Day, Opening Day

Today is 11/11/11.

TigerBlog isn't sure what the significance of that is supposed to be. It's not that the world is ending, is it?

To find out, TB went to google, which took him to a website that had all the answers. He was especially impressed with the fact that the number 11, when multiplied against itself, yields a palindrome, as in:
(2 digits) 11 x 11 = 121
(6 digits) 111111 x 111111 = 12345654321
(9 digits) 111111111 x 111111111 = 12345678987654321

Still, that site proved what TB already knew, that today is nothing special numerically.

As far as today's real significance, it's that it's Veterans' Day.

TB wrote this two years ago and repeated it last year, and nothing has changed since:
Take a minute to think about what the significance of today is. Veterans' Day lacks the family feel of Thanksgiving and Christmas. It doesn't conjure up the start of summer like Memorial Day or make you think of a barbecue in the backyard and watching fireworks like the Fourth of July.
Mostly, it's just another day for many people, a day to go about business as usual. Except that we do it in a country that is free, and because today salutes those who made it that way and continue to make it that way, it's nothing short of the most important day of the year.

TB saw a group of young men and women in Navy uniforms last week, and he was completely awe-struck at the sheer courage and dedication and commitment that it takes to do what they do every day, all so the rest of us don't have to, all so the rest of us can play squash and go to the movies and watch Princeton play sports and take kids to activities and anything else that people in a free country do every day and take for granted.

TB cannot overstate how much this country owes to its military people, its veterans and especially those who have given their bodies to the defense of this country.

MotherBlog, at one point, worked for the Paralyzed Veterans of America, at a time when each wheelchair was home to someone who left part of himself in Vietnam. She was involved in a tangential way with the construction of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., and if you've ever been there and haven't shed a tear, well, then you're as much made of stone as the monument itself.

There was a time when basketball season started here after Thanksgiving (actually Dec. 1, used to be the first day games could be played), but this year, it begins on Veterans' Day, with the women's game against St. Joe's tonight at 7 and the men's game tomorrow at 5 against Wagner.

It's a huge weekend of home events here, with football against Yale (tomorrow at 1), men's hockey vs. St. Lawrence tonight and Clarkson tomorrow, women's volleyball with Columbia/Cornell tonight and tomorrow and men's soccer against Yale tomorrow.

And of course, the basketball openers.

For the first time in the great history of Princeton basketball, both the men and women enter the season coming off Ivy titles and NCAA tournament appearances.

For the men, it was the 24th NCAA tournament trip a year ago, as well as the 26th league title. For the women, it was the second NCAA appearance ever - and second straight.

This year, the men are led by Mitch Henderson, whose career record as a head coach is 0-0. TB isn't sure he's ever rooted harder for anyone to do well than he is for Henderson, who is one of TB's all-time favorite Princeton athletes and who has only enhanced what TB thought of him as he has prepared for his first season.

As an aside, Henderson's improvement as a squash player has been remarkable, though not startling, considering how good of an athlete he is.

On the women's side, Courtney Banghart enters her fifth season after going 50-8 the last two years, 27-1 in the Ivy League.

The lure of opening night is to see 1) the return of Niveen Rasheed, who tore her ACL last December and had her sophomore year limited to 12 games, 2) to see if Lauren Edwards gets the 18 points she needs to 1,000 and 3) to see if Princeton can beat St. Joe's for the first time in program history after losing the first nine.

The big moments in basketball season are still three or four months away, but this weekend provides the first glimpses of what's in store.

If it seems early, it is, as it's only 11/11/11.

Opening day for Princeton basketball. In a free country.

TigerBlog provided the game program. The United States military provided the freedom.

Make sure you take a few minutes today - Veterans Day - and remember that.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Growing Pains

TigerBlog stood near the pylon at Franklin Field for much of the third quarter of last weekend's Princeton-Penn football game.

At one point, No. 4 for Penn intercepted a pass and started down the other sideline before cutting all the way back across the field, to the point where he was sprinting directly at TB, whose instinct was to take a step or two backwards.

TigerBlog loves to watch games from the sideline, and that's where he would stand to cover high school football back in the day. Through that experience, TB developed the sense to back away when the play gets too close, though he knows of others who have paid the price - such as longtime local writer Rich Fisher, who torn his patella tendon one day at a high school game.

Anyway, No. 4 was going to have a tough time of it in terms of getting to the end zone, since offensive lineman Matt Allen appeared to have an angle on him. Then, out of the corner of TB's eye, he saw No. 2 from Penn, flying to get in front of No. 4 and to put a block on Allen, which he did, freeing No. 4 for the touchdown.

After the extra point, the official who had been in front of TB came back to the pylon for the kickoff, which led to this conversation:

TB: "That was quite a block."
Official: "I had my hand on my flag, because I didn't think he was going to get in front of him. I mean, I don't like taking touchdowns away, but I will if I have to."

The game had been 17-9 a few minutes earlier, but two big plays for the Quakers broke it open, and it ultimately became a 37-9 Penn win.

For TB, he left with the same thought he has from most of the games he's watched this year - the young Princeton players will have something of a chip on their shoulders the next time they're in that stadium.

Of every sport in college, the hardest one for freshmen to come in and make an immediate impact in is without a doubt football. It's the physical nature of the sport, of course, and it's a huge advantage for 21-, 22-year-olds to play against 18- or 19-year-olds.

The Princeton team this year is dripping with young players.

Khamal Brown, the freshman safety, just turned 19. Matt Costello, freshman wide receiver, is also 19.

Seth DeValve, who blocked a punt against Penn, is 18, more than two months away from turning 19. Quarterback Quinn Epperly is even younger, 18 years old and five months away from turning 19.

On and on the list goes. Freshmen are playing huge roles for Princeton, and they're doing so at a physical disadvantage.

Think back to when you were 18. Then think to when you were 22. Big difference, right?

Chuck Dibilio is a 19-year-old freshman, one who by the way is doing something completely remarkable - almost unbelievably so - in his first year with the Tigers.

Dibilio, with two games left, has 824 yards for the season, leaving him 174 away from reaching 1,000. He's gotten to 824 by averaging 5.6 yards per carry.

Want some historical perspective?

Nobody at Princeton has ever come close to rushing for that many yards as a freshman - or more than even 300, for that matter.

And the 5.6 yards per carry? The Princeton career record is 5.7, held by Keith Elias, the top running back in school history. Elias as a sophomore average 4.85 yards per carry - on a team that went 8-2 and had multiple offensive options, including wide receiver Michael Lerch.

Dibilio went into Franklin Field and put up 130 rushing yards against the Quakers, and after the game, Tiger head coach Bob Surace was asked why Dibilio had been shut down in the second half, when he rushed for 37 after having 83 at halftime.

Shut down? Let's see, 37 yards in a half would be 74 in a game would be 740 for a season. Shut down? At Franklin Field, against a program that prides itself traditionally on its ability to stuff the run.

When TB would watch Elias, he would be amazed at how routinely he could put up numbers that would be career bests for just about anyone else. Dibilio, in a short time, has put himself into that category.

If you think that just any back can walk into that stadium and go for 130 yards, then you're wrong. It's an amazing performance for anyone - let alone a freshman.

Princeton is 1-7 this year, with games against Yale Saturday and at Dartmouth next Saturday.

For TB's money, it doesn't matter if Princeton loses both, because the point isn't whether the Tigers are 1-9 or 3-7 this year. It's to win a championship down the road.

If you're a Princeton football fan, you can be pretty optimistic about that future, because there are legitimate championship pieces in place.

It's just that it's nearly impossible to plug those pieces in when they're freshman and have the wins begin to pile up.

Enjoy what you're seeing from the young players now, and give credit to the older players who are ending their careers and doing so with great class, giving, as Pete Carril would say, a good account of themselves.

And know this about Princeton football - better days are coming.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sadness In The Valley

TigerBlog wanted to write about the whole Penn State situation, except he wasn't sure that Princeton's athletic blog was the right forum for that.

Then he read about the students at Penn State and their rally in support of Joe Paterno, and that was too much.

If you missed this part of it, there was a rally last night - word spread on Facebook - in front of Paterno's house. The students chanted "We Are ... Penn State" and "Joepa Terno, Joepa Terno" while the 84-year-old football coach gushed.

Sorry, but now is not the time to support Paterno. Now is not the time to talk about the great feelings that exist between the students and the venerable coach.

Not when what obviously happened is coming to light.

The bottom line is that even if Paterno acted within the letter of the law, he had a moral obligation to do so much more than he did. And if he'd followed his moral obligation, then, what, 90% or so of what is alleged to have happened never would have?

Do the students who chanted his name realize that? Do they know the names of little boys who have had their lives irreparably ruined? Did they want to chant those names? Or did those little boys not matter, because hey, just two weeks ago, Paterno set an important record with his 409th career win, the most in Division I history?

TigerBlog has no idea how Paterno slept at night all these years, knowing what he was covering up. And why? So he could continue to be the football coach?

Really, it's been that way for years with him. Once seen as a model citizen and the total personification of what Gary Walters calls "Education Through Athletics," Paterno's legacy was already tarnished by his staunch refusal to admit that his time to retire had long since passed.

As it turned out, the reason everyone thought - that he was too old - wasn't the real reason he shouldn't have still been the coach.

TigerBlog has always rooted for Penn State. He liked the plain uniforms, the way the teams played, the way the community embraced it all.

He's been to Happy Valley - it's called Happy Valley, of all things - a few times and really enjoyed it, especially this past summer, when he was there for three days and really got a chance to see the area.

Mostly he liked Paterno, who seemed like just another guy, like the high school coach that everyone in town knew rather than one of the two most legendary college football coaches of all time, along with Bear Bryant.

In contrast to the average big-time college football coach - consumed with self-promotion and cutting every corner necessary to maintain what he has - Paterno seemed to be an educator, a simple man with a big heart.

And in truth, maybe he was all this time with everything other than his handling of the situation with his former defensive coordinator. The point is that because of that, nothing else matters.

TB has been trying to figure out what he would do if he had been in the same situation, where allegations of child molestation involving someone close to him, or someone for whom he had the greatest amount of respect, came to his desk. Would he have done the right thing?

Maybe at first, on the first night, his reaction would have been "no way, not him, TB has known him all these years, no way, no chance." But by Day 2, he wouldn't be able to live with the "what if?" and know that there was even a small chance that by not doing more, TB was opening the door for one more child to be harmed.

Still, all of this takes TB back to his original premise, that this is Princeton's athletic blog.

So what does this have to do with Princeton?

A lot.

The other question that TB has been asking is could this have happened here? Of course it could. It could happen anywhere, in any profession, with anyone.

You never really know anyone. Never know what's lurking under the surface.

If it could be Jerry Sandusky, it could be anyone.

The issue isn't whether it could happen, it's what would happen next.

TB guarantees that there is no chance that everyone at Princeton wouldn't immediately do the right thing, legally, morally and otherwise. There simply is no chance that any other outcome would happen.

And the reason is that nobody is bigger than the institution.

At Penn State, Paterno became bigger than the school. Think of Penn State, and you think of the head football coach first. That's just how it is.

Here, nobody is bigger than Princeton itself. Not any coach, not any professor, not any administrator.

On a normal day, it's one of TB's favorite things about Princeton. The football coach or the basketball coach can't simply say "give me this" and know that within seconds, 10 people will be jumping to make it happen.

At a time when something like this is enveloping a great school with great people, it's even more acute.

Beyond that, it's a matter of right or wrong. It's not a legal thing. It's a right or wrong thing.

And TB can't imagine the people here would be so morally skewed.

Anyway, TB probably shouldn't have written any of this, but he felt like he had to.

He's a bit outraged by it all.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Red And Blue To Orange And Black

TigerBlog recommends the brisket and potato pancake dinner at Fred & Murry's Deli in Manalapan.

And of course the matzoh ball soup. Actually, everything on the menu is good.

From the time you walk in and are hit with the kosher pickles until you're paying the bill and grab a black & white cookie for the road, you cannot go wrong there.

The "Murry" part of Fred & Murry is Murry Chalnick, whose son Andrew was a year behind TigerBlog at Penn.

Andrew's best friend was a guy named Darren Litsky, who also went to Penn. Together, Andrew and Darren didn't exactly talk or act like geniuses - but that's exactly what they were (and are).

In fact, there was a class - Accounting 1A, TigerBlog thinks - that was a requirement for all Wharton students, and when the grades were posted after the first exam, the professors waited to see which two students were the ones who had gotten perfect scores. Back then, scores were sometimes posted on a wall outside the classroom, using either a student ID number or even as TB recalls, social security numbers, something that wouldn't remotely fly today.

Anyway, Andrew and Darren played intramural softball with TB and some of TB's other friends, including Charlie Frohman. Intramural softball was played on Franklin Field, and apparently Andrew had never actually played baseball/softball before, because after he smashed one off the far wall of the field, he stood at home plate and yelled "hey, Charlie, what do I do now?"

As TB stood on the field at Franklin Field Saturday for the Princeton-Penn football game, he thought back to his intramural days on that field, in softball and football. Back then, TB wouldn't have dreamed that when he came back to homecoming in 2011, he'd be dressed all in orange and black and have a much stronger affiliation with Princeton than Penn.

TigerBlog has great memories of his time as an undergrad. He met some great people there, and he's stayed friends with some of them for the 30 years or so since.

There are others he sees randomly here and there and still others who pop up after not seeing them since the 1980s, and such little reunions always take TB back to a special time.

When he thinks back to his days at Penn, he thinks of time spent in various classrooms, with various classes, in various activities and of course rooting for Penn teams. Penn was horrible at football just prior to the time TB got there; the Quakers were an Ivy powerhouse by the time he left.

In men's basketball, Penn won two Ivy titles in TB's four years - while Princeton won the other two.

TB saw some other sports there as well, including the first lacrosse game he'd ever see. Whatever the game, TB always was rooting for hard for Penn, like any student would.

TB has some great pictures from graduation day, and he was pretty proud of himself for getting through such a good school on time, in four years, with reasonably good grades. And with really no idea of what he was going to do professionally.

In fact, he had stumbled into the newspaper business his junior year, but that was something he thought he would do for fun and a little side money until he graduated and figured out what was next. Only nothing was next, because he loved the newspaper business, and so he stayed in it, vowing to himself that each year would be his last.

Even when he tried some other things (brief runs at sales or corporate public relations or job interviews in other areas), he knew they weren't for him - and he always ended up right back where he belonged, at the newspaper.

Gradually, he began to be introduced to the local Ivy team, Princeton, who just happened to be Penn's biggest rival.

The fact that TB was a Penn alum wasn't lost on the Princeton people he met, who all looked at him with a bit of skepticism and mistrust at the idea of a Quaker in their midst.

The one person who gave him the hardest time about this was Pete Carril, by the way, in an 80% teasing and 20% "I really don't like those guys" way.

TigerBlog isn't completely sure when his allegiance really shifted from his alma mater to the school where he was spending more and more time, though he knows it was before he actually started working here.

He does remember meeting with Gary Walters when Gary became the Director of Athletics and having Gary ask where TB went to college, only to be given a "I probably wouldn't have hired you" look when he found out the answer was Penn.

The whole experience has left TigerBlog in an odd place.

When he was at Penn the other day, he knew all the words to "Hurrah for the Red And The Blue" and was able to explain why toast was raining down onto the field during the singing of "Drink a Highball." At the same time, he also knew all the words to "Going Back to Nassau Hall" when the Princeton band played that song.

Prior to the game, TB was inundated with emails from the local alumni association, reminding him that his chance to purchase tickets to the game was almost passing him by. He gets both alumni magazines in the mail.

TB used the Penn online alumni directory to find out how many alums work at Princeton. The number is 76, including only one other athletic department employee - men's track and field coach Fred Samara.

Last night, TB got a voicemail from Charlie, asking him which school he roots for when they play each other. "I assume Penn," Charlie said.

He assumes wrong.

TB roots for Princeton over Penn, all the time, every time - despite how much fondness he has for his alma mater and his time there.

It's just that all that is history.

These days, it's all Orange & Black.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fall Back

As TigerBlog was driving along yesterday, he couldn't help but notice that there was an amazing sunset over the highway.

Unfortunately, it was at 5:00 or so.

There are few days that are more generally depressing than the "fall back" day, where clocks are set back an hour and Daylight Savings Time morphs into Standard Time. Even before the clocks are actually set back an hour, it starts to get dark out earlier and earlier, so that it's pretty much pitch-black by 6:15 or so.

The setting back of the clock only rubs it in even more.

One of TigerBlog's favorite people who ever walked into Jadwin Gym is Louise Gengler, the longtime women's tennis coach who was a tad, uh, absent-minded. Once, after the clocks were set back, Louise and TB had this conversation:

LG: What time is it?
TB: Two o'clock.
LG: Good. I have an appointment at 3, and I couldn't remember if I set my clock back or not.

The whole idea of getting an extra hour of sleep is a bit misleading as well. Unless you have to do something on Sunday morning, you're going to get up at the same point you would anyway, only it'll be an hour earlier.

Plus, your whole sleep is thrown off the night before, because you have no idea what time it really is, especially if the clock in your room automatically changes (like the cable box or something like that).

If you have little, little kids - babies, toddlers - then the worst day of the year by far is the day you set the clock back, because their little schedules aren't quite adjustable to a simple time change.

Still, for all of that, the worst part is still Sunday late afternoon, when it's so nice out and the sun is shining and all at 3 or 3:30 and then a hour later it's already starting to set.

It's a harsh reminder that winter is almost here.

Of course, there are other reminders.

First, there's the fact that the fall season is winding down here at Princeton, even when it seems like it just started.

Women's soccer and sprint football have finished their seasons, and women's volleyball (barring a Yale collapse that would force a playoff game) and men's soccer will be finished this coming weekend.

Football has two games remaining. Field hockey emerged from a crowded field to win the Ivy title and take the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, which begins with a play-in game against Rider here tomorrow at 1.

As an aside, anything TB writes about field hockey for the rest of this season will make the assumption that everyone knows by now that Princeton is without its top four players, who have helped the U.S. qualify for the Olympics.

Cross country has NCAA regional competition this weekend in Maryland, and men's water polo has the Eastern championships in two weekends. All three of those teams - or none - could emerge from that round to reach the NCAA championships.

And that's it for your fall.

Of course, winter has already started, what with both hockey teams having combined to play 11 games already.

In what can be termed hard to believe, basketball season starts this weekend. The women's team hosts St. Joe's Friday night at 7, while the men play Wagner Saturday at 5.

Wrestling begins this coming weekend, and squash, fencing and swimming and diving all jump into it the following weekend.

This Saturday's schedule is pretty jam-packed and makes for a pretty good Saturday of sports here.

The football team plays Yale at noon, followed by men's soccer against Yale at 3, men's hockey against Clarkson at 4, women's volleyball against Columbia at 5 and the men's basketball game against Wagner also at 5.

And if that's not enough, then the men's lacrosse opener is only 3.5 months away.

And Daylight Savings starts on March 11, 2012.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Lane Change

TigerBlog was driving on 95 the other night when he noticed a car at a weird angle on the grass between the north and south sides.

TB was in the middle lane, heading north. As he glanced away from the first car and looked ahead, the car in front of him was swerving into the left lane, rather frantically.

In a split second, TB saw why - there was another car stopped in the middle lane just ahead. With its lights off, it was hardly visible.

Like the driver in front of him, TB had to quickly move away from the middle lane, or else he would have plowed directly into the stopped car. Plus, he was texting and eating and reading the newspaper at the same time (well, not really).

TB, like the other car, went left instead of right (not TB's usual reaction) and for a brief second, he thought he turned away too quickly and might lose control. Instead, everything leveled out.

For the next few seconds, TB had the usual near-miss racing heartbeat situation. And he wondered how many more cars would be able to get away from the stuck car in the middle before one didn't.

TB never saw a story in the local papers about a big accident on 95, so he'll assume that nothing came of it.

Eventually, when his heart settled down, he began to chuckle a little as he thought back to an episode from the TV show "Cheers," from season 6, in 1988, called "I On Sports."

In the episode, Sam fills in doing the sports on the local news station in Boston. In a near-perfect spoof of TV newscasters, there is this exchange:

Reporter 1 - "... and with his appeals exhausted, the execution will go on as scheduled Friday."
Ditzy newswoman - "so he won't be around for that great weekend weather we're going to have."

Had TB smashed into the car, well, then of course he wouldn't be around for this weekend's schedule.

The schedule for this weekend in Princeton athletics isn't quite what it is next weekend, which is one of the busiest TB can ever remember.

Still, there are some good events, including two of what TB's old buddy Harvey Yavener would have given five stars.

The field hockey team is at Penn tonight as the final weekend of begins, with two games tonight, one tomorrow and one Sunday.

Heading into the final weekend, there could mathematically be an outright champ or a two-, three- or four-way tie for the Ivy title. Realistically, though, any scenario for more than a co-championship would involve a Yale loss to Brown, which is 0-6 in the league.

Right now, Princeton and Yale are 5-1, while Dartmouth and Columbia are 4-2. All four play the other four schools, and wins by Dartmouth and Columbia and losses by Yale and Princeton makes it a four-way tie.

Princeton is in a win-win situation, as in a win over Penn brings at least a share of the Ivy title and the league's bid to the NCAA play-in game. The Ivy winner will host the NEC champ - already Rider, which is in the MAAC for most sports but the NEC for field hockey - in an NCAA play-in game Tuesday at 1.

Assuming Yale will beat Brown, the a Princeton loss to Penn would take away both of those prizes. Princeton does hold the tiebreakers in the four-way tie scenario, but it's really unlikely to come to that.

Keep in mind that Princeton is playing this year without its top four players - Julia and Katie Reinprecht, Kathleen Sharkey, Michele Cesan - who helped the U.S. earn an Olympic bid by winning the Pan Am Games title.

Meanwhile, the women's volleyball race is essentially a three-team contest with two league weekends left.

Yale is currently 9-1, followed by 8-2 Princeton and 7-3 Columbia. This weekend should shake things up a bit, as Princeton is at last-place Brown (2-8) tonight before what figures to be the big showdown at Yale tomorrow.

Should Yale (against 3-7 Penn) and Princeton both win tonight, then the match tomorrow is a must. A Princeton win would then tie the two for first; a Yale win would clinch at least a tie for the league title.

Princeton hosts Cornell and Columbia next weekend; Yale is at Harvard/Dartmouth.

Women's volleyball, like basketball, is a double round-robin format, and there would be a one-match playoff for the NCAA bid should there be a co-championship.

Also this weekend is obviously a football game at Penn, as well as men's and women's soccer at Penn.

There isn't much at home this weekend, other than sprint football tonight against Penn, women's hockey against Brown tonight and Yale tomorrow afternoon (Skate With the Tigers) and men's water polo in the Southern championships.

Next weekend? How about home women's basketball, women's volleyball and men's hockey Friday night and then football, men's basketball, men's soccer, women's volleyball and men's hockey Saturday.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Media Day

Ah, the press conference. In the world of sports communications, it's supposed to be a fairly big deal.

Here at Princeton, it used to be, at least.

TigerBlog remembers being at one in 1992, the night Princeton clinched its fourth straight Ivy men's basketball title. There, in the Caldwell Field House lounge, came this exchange:

Writer - So, you're a senior, and you won, and that's four in a row, and you've never not won, and now you're going to the tournament and you were the favorite and now you go out with another title.

Sean Jackson - I'm sorry. Did you ask me a question?

That's one situation that comes up often in the press conference/interview situation. The non-question question.

Basically, the interviewer makes a declarative statement, leaving it up to the person being interviewed to nod their head, say "yeah" or "well" and then elaborate.

TigerBlog has been in a zillion press conferences, and he find them an odd setting. In the front of the room is a player or coach, and then there are a bunch of people who furiously scribble down every word that is said, even though 99% of the time nothing is said.

One of TB's favorite press conference moments came when Princeton was in Hawaii for the 1998 Rainbow Classic. There was this exchange:

Hawaiian writer - Coach, it seems like everyone on your team can shoot the three-pointer.

Bill Carmody - That's how we play. Everyone has to be able to shoot. Our center can shoot threes. [pausing to look to his right and pointing at TigerBlog]. Our SID can shoot threes.

Pete Carril could turn press conferences into standup comedy routines, sermons, eulogies, sociology lectures or anything else.

Bill Tierney could talk for 100 years at a press conference and never once say anything bad about any player, official, spectator, event, world leader or anything - other than himself, for whom he blamed for anything that ever went wrong.

Your average run-of-the-mill press conference features someone who walks in while distributing stats or something and without stopping says "up front we have coach so-and-so and the following players." Usually, the coach will make an opening statement, something along the lines of "it was a great game."

For bigger-time press conferences, there will be place-cards with the attendees' names on them, as well as a moderator. If you're looking for the Hall-of-Fame greatest moderator of all time, it's TB-Baltimore, who simply owns the room when he does it.

When TB was a sportswriter, he hardly paid attention during press conferences and he almost never asked a question. Why go down a specific path of questions with everyone there if you want to write about a topic that you don't want to give away at the time?

Instead, TB would until after and then go for the one-on-one interview, even the brief one on the walk back to the locker room.

When TB was the men's basketball contact, he decided that the formal structure of the postgame press conference was too much, so he used to bring the coach into the Zanfrini Room first and then bring in two or three players and spread them around the room and let people talk to them one-on-one.

The first few times he did this, nobody realized that TB's point was to simulate an informal locker room setting and that he wanted the writers to get up and walk around to the player they wanted.

Today is basketball media day here at Princeton. These days, TigerBlog is the interim women's basketball contact, until the OAC fills its current opening.

It is Mitch Henderson's first as the head coach, while Courtney Banghart will be entering season No. 5. Both teams begin the 2011-12 season next week, with the women home against St. Joe's Friday night, Nov. 11, and the men home Saturday, Nov. 12, at 5 against Wagner.

Way back when, the goal for media day was to have a few local TV stations here, because TV cameras made it look like a bigger deal.

Media day was also big because the players would be in uniforms for team pictures and because the media guides would be there, so all the players would be browsing. Every year, the local papers would have a picture of three players in uniforms with their shirts out, reading a media guide.

Every year, like clockwork.

This year figures to be way more informal.

Still, as long as there are media people, there will be press conferences, formal and informal.

TB can't remember most of the ones he's been to; the ones he can remember mostly make him laugh out loud.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Who Needs Tickets?

Back when TigerBlog first started working here, Kurt Kehl - then the Director of Athletic Communications and now a vice president with the Washington Capitals - used to design the world's nicest looking tickets.

They were tremendous to look at, especially if you had a season ticket sheet. They had action pictures of Princeton's best players, and so your ticket for the first game looked different than the second and so on.

It was like one of those sheet cakes with a picture on it that people get for anniversaries and birthday parties.

TB especially remembers the picture he used for the tickets with Gabe Lewullis' picture on them. They were like genuine art.

TigerBlog thought they were the best looking tickets that he'd ever seen, and he had a pretty good appreciation for the effort that went into them.

At the same time, he was a little taken aback by it, because ultimately they were tickets. You hand them to the ticket taker, and what happens next? They get ripped.

Of course, you could make the same case with the game programs.

TigerBlog has been walking to the parking lot many times when he's seen programs for football or basketball or lacrosse or anything else thrown around, discarded, sitting in water and mud and garbage.

And after all the work that went into them? All the time putting them together, writing the stories and everything else? And then they're old news, in a matter of hours.

TB's background is in newspapers, and that's the whole premise of that business. What you work so hard to put together today will be used to wrap fish tomorrow.

TB remembers one time walking into a bagel/deli in Hamilton back when he was writing for the paper, and what did he see? The column he wrote in the paper the day before, sticking out of a garbage can, with, as TB will never forget, scallion cream cheese on his picture.

Speaking of pictures on newspaper columns, TB first had one on a high school tennis column he wrote weekly, 30 years ago. During his time at the paper, he had maybe two or three pictures taken for his column, and that was it.

Other people changed their pictures what appeared to be weekly. Mark Eckel had a great picture of his old 'fro; Harvey Yavener had a great picture with a jacket, tie and shirt, of which no two matched.

Anyway, where was TB?

Oh yeah, tickets.

It became apparent early on Saturday that the weather forecast of snow starting in the late afternoon or evening and not amounting to anything was way off. In fact, it was a snowfest at the Princeton football game from well before kickoff.

As a result, almost nobody came.

Those who were at the game were given a voucher for free tickets to one of the four November men's basketball games, as a sign of appreciation for coming out in such bad weather.

And what about those who bought tickets but didn't come?

At the marketing meeting yesterday, the decision was made to allow people to use their unused Cornell tickets to get into the football game on Nov. 12 against Yale.

All you have to do is bring your unused Cornell ticket to the special promotions window at the stadium on the day of the Yale game, and it will be exchanged for a ticket to the Yale game. If you had your ticket waiting at will call, then those names will be pulled and you can do the exchange that way.

TigerBlog isn't ready to make it a hard and fast rule, but he's pretty sure that any future football games played in October blizzards would be handled similarly.

The Yale game is 10 days away, and the extended forecast is for 63 degrees that day. Even if that doesn't play out, TB is going to go out on a limb and say the weather will be better than it was for the Cornell game.

So bring out the unused ticket, and come to the game.

And then stay for hockey, soccer and basketball.