Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Read All About It

TigerBlog opened his hotel door yesterday morning and found waiting for him a complimentary copy of The Oregonian newspaper.

Sort of complimentary, that is. After the cost of the room per night is factored in, complimentary takes on a whole new meaning.

Anyway, it's been awhile since TB actually read a newspaper. At least one that wasn't online.

When he was a kid, The Asbury Park Press and Star-Ledger took turns arriving at his door every day. And FatherBlog always brought home The New York Post.

It was reading those newspapers that played a large role in moving him towards the direction of the newspaper business. For all the years he was in that business, plus most of the time he's been at Princeton, he had morning delivery of The Trenton Times.

For the last few years, though, he has gotten his news online. He reads many newspapers each day, and finds links to different ones all the time. It's how newspapers are to be read these days.

Of course, it makes him wistful for the days when the paper came to the door every day and he would read basically all of it.

So he was pretty fired up when The Oregonian was on his doorstep this morning.

Even better, he was pumped to read it on the beach.

If you've never been to the beach in Oregon, or at least the northern part of the Oregon coast - which TB had never been before this week - the first thing you need to know is that is that it's TB's idea of a nearly perfect beach. The temperature was in the low 70s, and the water was a bit cold.

But the beach was mostly overcast, the wind was gently blowing in off the Pacific, there were mountains whose tops were covered in fog just to the east, there was natural beauty everywhere, the sand was clean and there was hardly a crowd to be found.

If TB had to choose a word to describe it, that word would be relaxing.

So TB took his newspaper and began to read. Of course, it's not always easy to fold a paper on the beach, because of the breeze, but TB did his best.

The lead story on the front page was about a man whose ex-wife had killed a woman in a drunk driving accident 16 years ago and then fled to Canada with their three-year-old and baby. He hadn't seen or heard from them since, until recently, when the ex-wife was finally arrested after having remarried and lived under a false name all those years.

The issue was that the second husband was trying to adopt the two kids, and he is the only father they've ever known. Meanwhile, the first husband has gone through all his money trying to stop it and has of yet gotten nowhere.

After reading that story, TB went to the sports section. There, he found way more stories on what sport than any other, or really every other combined?

That's right.

College football.

There were eight stories about college football in all. There were two on Major League Soccer, one on the playoff push for the Portland Timbers and the other on MLS expansion.

College football dwarfs everything in Oregon. In Seattle, it was more of a balance between the Huskies and Cougars and the Seahawks. Here, talk of college football dominates.

The newspaper this morning had continued its series counting down the top 10 impact players for both Oregon (an offensive guard) and Oregon State (a running back), with today's spotlight on the No. 6 players. There were also depth charts for Oregon's offensive line and Oregon's State backs, depth charts that ran four deep.

There was a round up on other college football news. There was a story on an Oregon player on the Steelers.

And camp hasn't even started yet. Imagine what the season is like around here.

TB saw framed pictures for sale of games at Oregon and Oregon State, with packed houses at both. They sold for $250 each.

Oregon opens its season Aug. 31 against Nicholls. Oregon State opens that same day against Eastern Washington. The regular season ends with Oregon State at Oregon on Nov. 29.

Princeton's season starts three weeks after Oregon and Oregon State start, and it ends one week before the two teams meet.

Ivy League football is great, at least to TigerBlog. The tradition. The long, long history. The relatively even matchups week after week.

He likes the 10 games in 10 weeks format, though he'd be open to an 11th game, or to opening the season and having an off week (for health reasons alone) and of course for Ivy participation in the NCAA playoffs.

TB also loves the fact that football doesn't drive everything about the schools themselves, let alone their athletic departments. He loves that so many Ivy Leaguers - including Princeton's Mike Catapano - are currently competing for NFL spots while at the same time the schools haven't sold their souls in the name of football.

But he also gets that in so many parts of the country, football - especially college football - is where it starts and ends. Princeton will never again be able to compete with the Giants or Jets like it did when the NFL was new. TB gets that.

Oregon and Oregon State? They are bigger than the NFL in this state.

Princeton's 2013 season should be an interesting one.

The Tigers went from 1-9 and 1-9 to 5-5 a year ago. There is considerable excitement about the coming season, as there should be. Clearly Bob Surace has the Tigers headed in the right direction as he enters Year 4.

Princeton began last year 0-2 with tough losses to Lehigh and Georgetown, and those are the first two opponents again this year. After that is the Ivy opener against Columbia, the final non-league game against Lafayette and then, as it always is, Brown, Harvard, Cornell, Penn, Yale and Dartmouth.

Each week provides its own challenge. The goal is to be in contention in November.

By then, TB's time here in the Pacific Northwest will have become a memory, and the serenity of reading a newspaper in nearly perfect conditions on the Oregonian beach will have long vanished.

Football is coming soon at Princeton. Even sooner here in Oregon.

Judging by today's paper, the locals are more than ready.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The North Coast

Here on Oregon's North Coast, TigerBlog can't help but notice one thing.

Almost nobody wears a college t-shirt.

At the Jersey Shore, where TB has spent most of his life's beach time, it's a common sight to see one college t-shirt or hat or shorts or whatever after another. The number of colleges represented is enormous.

Here, there are basically four colleges that have their name out there. Washington State, Washington, Oregon State and the one that has about 75% of the representation, Oregon.

Even for the last few days, when TB was in Seattle, he saw almost nothing other than those four schools. Hey, Washington State has its own store in the mall that has the monorail to the Space Needle on its top floor. Washington, similarly, has one on Fourth Avenue, just down from Pike Street.

In the city, almost everything is those two schools. TB saw way more people wearing Washington and Washington State gear than he has seen here at the beach, and he saw almost nothing from any other school. Maybe there was one Seattle University sweatshirt.

And here in Oregon, he saw one "CWU" sweatshirt, which he assumes was Central Washington.

It's a little less than a four-hour drive from Seattle to the North Coast, most of which is spent on I-5. The trip starts out in Seattle and goes past Tacoma, Olympia and then a bunch of other small towns, until exit 36, which cuts across the Columbia River into Oregon, offering an amazing view of the logging industry along the way.

Eventually, the ride heads into beach towns like Astoria, Seaside and Cannon Beach, which is notable for the giant rock - Haystack Rock - that is anchored just off the shoreline.

What is absent from the ride is a sign for a college, except for a handful of community colleges.

It's a vastly different animal than TB usually sees back home, where there are colleges everywhere. What it does, other than offer beach-goers a wildly varied number of t-shirts to wear, is create tons of opponents for schools.

Out here, that doesn't appear to be the case. There is huge distance that separates teams in conferences, something that impacted scheduling long ago and something that now forces teams to fly to almost every game.

Scheduling long ago?

Any idea what the most-played rivalry is in the history of men's college basketball? Let's get back to that in a second.

Let's start with the record for most consecutive years having played. Here are the top five:

1. Princeton vs. Yale and Columbia vs. Yale (112 straight years)
3. Princeton vs. Penn (111 straight years)
4. Columbia vs. Penn and Cornell vs. Penn (110 straight years)

In other words, the five rivalries that have played for the most consecutive years feature Ivy League opponents. You have to go to the No. 6 spot on that list to find non-Ivy schools (Maine and New Hampshire 108 straight years) .

Princeton has played Columbia 229 times in men's basketball and has not played any other team more. The Tigers have played Penn and Yale 228 times each.

Meanwhile, back at the record for most games played against another opponent. Here are your top five:

1. Oregon vs. Oregon State (339 times)
2. Oregon vs. Washington (298 times)
3. Oregon State vs. Washington (293 times)
4. Oregon State vs. Washington State (288 times)
5. Oregon vs. Washington State (285 times)

The top five is comprised of just the four schools seen on the beaches around here.

Think about that. Princeton and Penn first played in 1903, the same year that Oregon and Oregon State did. And yet Oregon and Oregon State have played 111 more games against each other than Princeton and Penn have in that same time.

That's extraordinary, no? Especially considering that Princeton and Penn have played at least twice every season since 1903.

So what's the reason?

Lack of opponents within driving distance.

TigerBlog has been to about a billion Ivy League athletic events in his life. He's never flown to a single one. He's been to every campus so many times that he long ago lost track of how often it was.

And he's driven every time.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, that's just not an option.

Maybe that's why Ivy League schools have so many teams and so many other leagues don't. Maybe it just comes down to how prohibitively expensive it is to get from one campus to another in those other leagues and how easy it is in the Ivy League.

When schools like Princeton and Harvard and Penn and Yale began playing each other in one sport, other sports saw how easy it was to get there and began to field teams of their own. Oregon and Oregon State, say, never had that option.

TB never thought of it in those terms before.

Anyway, the Pacific Ocean is pretty cold up here, but the beaches are pristine and the scenic beauty is everywhere, with mountains to the east and the ocean to the west, something that is always difficult to remember.

As for TB, he was wearing a Princeton lacrosse sweatshirt today.

He'll be back with more Princeton stuff tomorrow.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Executive Associate AD Anthony Archbald

If you look at the picture on the website, you can see pretty much everything you need to know about Anthony Archbald.

First, he's wearing a sport coat and button-down shirt, with no tie. It's a pretty common look.

Second, he's standing directly behind Ford Family Director of Athletics Gary Walters, which is where Archbald now stands in the athletic department, after being named last week the Executive Associate Athletic Director.

Archbald takes over for Erin McDermott, who is leaving Princeton become the AD at the University of Chicago.

McDermott took over for Mike Cross, who is now the AD at Bradley.

Cross took over for, if TigerBlog's memory is correct, Jim Fiore, who is now the AD at Stony Brook. Going further back, Fiore, TB believes, took over when George VanderZwaag left to become the AD at Rochester.

Cross and McDermott both made the move that Archbald is now making, going from the director compliance to take over as the one who oversees admissions, facilities, scheduling, event operations, intercollegiate programming and strength and conditioning. He will also be the department's liaison to the athletic medicine staff.

TB has never bothered to add up how many people report directly to the person in this position, but it's a lot.

Oh, and what else can you tell about Archbald by that picture?

That's he's excited.

Can't you see by his smile? Well, in his case, that's a wide, wide grin, with his face lit up.

TB didn't expect to see Archbald mug for the camera. It's not his style.

His is to be understated, laid back, unflappable. That's how TB would describe him.

That, and humble and loyal and supportive.

Oh, and hard-working. And effective. And with very high standards for him and those around him.

Those are pretty good qualities for someone who now has so many responsibilities. And people who report to him.

A strong case could be made that the single most important factor in determining athletic success at Princeton is the recruiting/admissions piece. To that end, it's essential that the department liaison between the coaches and the admissions office be someone as effective as possible at balancing the needs of both sides.

This was a great strength of McDermott and Cross. And TB has no doubt that Archbald is perfect for that role.

As for the rest, it's a big move from compliance, which is mostly oversight and rules interpreting, to intercollegiate programming, which is a major hands-on with everything that happens for Princeton Athletics.

It's an exciting challenge for someone. TB knows both Cross and McDermott were thrilled for the opportunity. And Archbald is as well.

TB has worked closely with Archbald since he first came here, and TB knew right away that this was someone destined for big things. In fact, TB can't imagine it will be all that long before Archbald joins his predecessors as an AD.

Why not? He has a background in law. And in intercollegiate athletics, starting at the ground floor, which in his case included setting up the pylons at Brown field hockey games way back when.

Now he's a rising star in the business, especially since his move last week.

For Princeton fans, coming to games here is about being entertained and about winning, or at least being in position to win.

The idea of who does what behind the scenes to make all that happen probably doesn't enter most people's minds when they're watching.

In truth, though, the department is filled with dedicated people, all of whom work together to allow Princeton athletics to look good, to put its athletes in the best chance to be competitive, to give its coaches what they need so that they can focus on the nuts and bolts of getting their teams ready to play.

It's not easy to pull that off.

Rest easy, though.

Anthony Archbald won't let anyone down.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Your Prostitutional Self

The two best things ESPN has ever done are 1) signing a deal with Princeton and 2) getting into the documentary business.

Okay, maybe that's a provincial view of the situation.

While a case could possibly be made that the Princeton/ESPN relationship isn't quite a game-changer, there can be no one who can even remotely say that the documentaries aren't fabulous.

The original "30 For 30"series started it. There have been shorter pieces on the web.

And now there are the "Nine For IX" documentaries, put out by ESPNw to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Title IX. They center around women's issues in sports, historically and contemporarily.

TigerBlog's favorite "30 For 30" movies were the ones about the Colombian drug lord and soccer player who shared the same last name (and as it turned out, same fate), the one about Marcus Dupree and the one about Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.

Beyond those, the two that stood out the most were the one about Terry Fox and his attempt to run across Canada and the one with Vlade Divac that spoke about the Yugoslavian basketball players whose team and relationships were destroyed by politics.

The movies are amazing. All of them.

TB is looking forward to the upcoming "Nine For IX" ones about Katarina Witt and the one about the 1999 U.S. women's soccer team. He missed the one about Pat Summitt, though he assumes he'll see it at some point.

The only one he's seen to date is the one entitled "Let Them Wear Towels," which is about the history of women's sportswriters and the fight to gain access to the lockerroom.

TigerBlog has a picture somewhere of the press box at Palmer Stadium from the 1940s. It shows exactly what you think it would show, which is a bunch of older white men in suits and ties and those hats that they wore back then.

There was also a sign in the foreground. It read "no women allowed in press box."

The ESPNw movie traced the evolution that allowed women to gain access to the press box and ultimately the locker room, during a decade (the 1970s) that coincided with when women's athletics at Princeton first began to grow.

At one point during the movie, TigerBlog thought he recognized the chapel on the Princeton campus, which, it turned out, he did.

What followed was an introduction to Robin Herman, who started out her piece of the story by explaining that she was part of the first class of women at Princeton.

Herman went on to talk about how she went to work at the Daily Princetonian and how each writer was assigned a news beat and sports beat. When she saw that she was not given a sports beat, she immediately confronted the editor to find out why.

Had she backed away, her story would be much different. Instead, she had the courage or the determination to fight for what was right, even if it was unpopular or even unheard of at the time.

Or maybe she wasn't even thinking about the big picture back then. Maybe she just wanted to cover a sport.

She ended up with rugby - and that was the start of a lifetime in the business. She had to fight the standard prejudices of the time, and one of the best parts of the movie was when she read an old, handwritten letter that she received that was basically saying that women had no place in that man's world.

The letter called her a lesbian and also told her to get "your prostitutional self" out of the lockerroom.

It was not easy for the women writers of the time, who had to fight against every negative stereotype there was. They were either lesbians or whores. They were in there only to oogle the naked men. They didn't know anything about sports.

One of the women interviewed referred to how lonely it was, actually. The case of Lisa Olson, the Boston Globe writer who was harassed by the New England Patriots, was of course included.

The women all had stories about big-name, famous owners and athletes who were fighting them every step of the way. Others, like Steve Garvey and Tommy John, were much more willing to join their struggle.

They also talked about the sorority they formed and how they couldn't wait for the day when every woman writer wouldn't know every other woman writer.

Robin Herman's Twitter is @girlinthelocker, and today women in the profession are so common that it's not even an issue. Women have roles all over the world of athletics, and college athletic communications is a clear example of that.

If anything, the bigger issue now is in broadcasting, where women are still hired largely because of their looks. TB can't help but wonder what Robin Herman says and thinks about that.

But for TB, that's more of a celebrity issue than it is a gender issue.

Women's athletics and women in the field of athletics have come so far since the 1970s.

TB always refers to the women's athletic pioneers at Princeton who endured blatant inequality, something that would never happen today.

It was the same for women's sportswriters.

It was nice to see a Princetonian so involved in that struggle for equality.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Head Games

TigerBlog was driving yesterday when Bill Belichick's press conference came on the radio.

TB listened as the Patriots coach read a long statement about the Aaron Hernandez situation, about how a member of his team was arrested for first degree murder. Now, instead of getting ready for the start of training camp, Hernandez sits in a jail cell, probably never to be free again, while police investigate whether or not he was behind two other murders.

And so there was Belichick, the surliest coach of all-time, up there to talk about it.

As Belichick spoke, TB couldn't help but wonder what Hernandez thinks about as he sits in that cell. Does he realize that he went from a $44 million contract to prison and that there's likely no going back?

Anyway, Belichick was perhaps sincere enough - or possibly just smart enough - to realize that
this wasn't the time for his standard contempt of the media. To that end, he did fine.

Of course, he also benefited from just how low he's set the bar for himself. To that end, he could talk in insulting generalities - as opposed to saying the obvious, which is that in today's NFL teams have to take chances on players who aren't exactly model citizens - and do that without having getting completely ripped apart for it.

In fairness to Belichick, TB doubts that anyone could have anticipated the fact that Hernandez would become an alleged murderer.

And TB certainly didn't envy Belichick for having to stand up there yesterday and face that music.

When he made it clear that he wasn't going to answer questions about Hernandez directly, Belichick was flooded with other ones asking about the screening process before the draft, about how potential players were evaluated for their citizenship, about anything that might be done differently in the future.

The Hernandez situation is the last thing the NFL needed.

Right now, the league is wrestling with huge issues that threaten its very existence. And can you imagine two or three years ago having that sentence written?

The NFL is by far the biggest sports property in the country. Nothing approaches it. The league brings in billions of dollars, draws insane television ratings and is seemingly immune to any of the other problems that take down other sports.

Von Miller, one of the top linebackers in football, was suspended for four games for violating league policy. That's one-quarter of the season. Think Ryan Braun and A-Rod for the baseball equivalent. Football? Not even a mild wrinkle.

So what is it that can possibly threaten this league? Concussions. Head injuries. Long-term health concerns.

TigerBlog heard one clip of a social commentator who actually likened football to dog fighting.

The NFL features grown men who play for the chance to earn millions of dollars each year. College football and high school football - or youth football - aren't earning big dollars.

But they are taking the same kinds of health risks.

The Ivy League, partnering with the Big 10, has been actively - or is that proactively - trying to solve the problem. Princeton's head of athletic medicine, Dr. Margot Putukian, has taken a leadership role on the issue.

Most recently, the two leagues combined to have a head injury summit outside of Chicago.

Basically, there's a recognition on the part of these two conferences that the marquee sport of college athletics is also at a crossroads.

Yes, Ivy League football and Big 10 football are much different. The smallest Big 10 crowd of the year will probably eclipse - or at the very least approach - Princeton's total for its entire home schedule.

Even with that, the two league's understand what's at stake here.

Ivy League football dates back to 1869, when Princeton played Rutgers in the first game.

The history of football at Princeton and in the Ivy League is storied and loaded with legendary games and players.

Even today, nothing other than Reunions and Commencement brings more people to the Princeton campus than football. A football Saturday on an Ivy campus is a wonderful event.

Could it ever go away? It's laughable on its face, right?

But it's also a serious issue now.

Football can survive many things, even having an All-Pro tight end who turned out to be a murderer.

What it can't abide by is its former players who are killing themselves because of head injuries.

Can the sport be saved from itself? Probably.

Events like what the Ivy League and Big 10 had last week are a huge step forward.

It's important to keep the issue front and center, not hide it and hope it goes away. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Riffing On Entitlement

It's a slow week in late July, a little past the halfway point between the end of last athletic year and the start of the next one.

So what is a blogger to do?

Every now and then, TigerBlog will see something that triggers something that makes him say "hey, that'd be something good to write about." Nine times out of 10, he forgets all about what it was.

It's like that scene in "Seinfeld," where Jerry scribbles something down in the middle of the night that he thinks was going to be hilarious but when he wakes up, he can't remember what it was.

It frustrates TB even more when he remembers what it was but then forgets it by the time he wants to write about it. Or if it's something that comes back to him later, only it's way too late by then for it to matter.

Then again, every now and then, something comes around that smacks him in the face at a moment when he's without a subject.

Like now.

TB wrote about the royal baby, which then prompted this comment:
PU riffing about a disdain of entitlement is like Ryan Braun riffing about a disdain of steroid use. 

And it was signed "Jason Garrett."

And presto, TB has something to write about.

Let's get back to the baby, for a moment. How could it take these two parents so long to come up with what to name him?

The stories about how it's possible to bet on the baby's name - or basically anything else - fascinated TB way more than the baby himself did.

As for the comment, well, there are a few issues.

First, was it really Jason Garrett, the Princeton alum and head coach of the Dallas Cowboys who posted it? Rather than speculate, TB will simply point out that in this day and age, anyone can say anything and use any name desired.

The point is there is no way to know definitively if it is Garrett, or anyone else.

It's a lesson that the athletic department staff often will try to get across to the 1,000 Princeton athletes each year. When they have conversations with people about their team, their coaches, their next game, the officials - anything - they have no real way of knowing what will happen with that information.

Is it going to show up on some blog like this one? Or on the Ivy League message board? Or on some email distribution list?

And who will be the author? Someone claiming to be someone else?

In other words, they need to be extraordinarily careful with anything that could be construed as "classified" information. Or comments that might not exactly be flattering, to Princeton, its athletes, its coaches, its officials, its opponents, the other schools in the league, anything.

As TB said last week when the subject was Twitter, it used to be harder to say something dumb, because you needed someone to say it to. Actually, it didn't just require someone to say it to. It required someone who had an outlet to publish whatever dumb thing was said.

Now? Nope. Anyone can be an outlet.

Even Jason Garrett. If that's really who it was.

And what about Jason's comment?

TB actually thought about it when he was writing about the new baby. Yes, Princeton is a place of great, historical entitlement, or, if TB would have chosen the word, privilege.

Still, TB wasn't talking about that when he was talking about the British monarchy. He was talking about the idea that everyone is created equal.

And maybe some who are third and fourth and fifth generation at a school like Princeton or Harvard or Yale aren't born as equally as some whose parents never went to college.

There's an arena where that doesn't matter, though, and it's athletics.

TigerBlog heard Pete Carril talk about this publicly many times and privately many, many more times than that. On his team, there was no privilege. Or at least no inherent privilege.

No. Privilege is what you earned in practice.

It's something that Carril always spoke about with extraordinary passion, and it's stuff TB will never forget.

Gary Walters, Princeton's Director of Athletics the last 19 years, played for Carril in high school, Reading High School. It's a public school in an area that nobody would consider affluent. Carril himself is the son of man who worked in the Bethlehem steel mills for 40 years.

The football coach is the son of a high school football coach. The men's lacrosse coach is the son of public school teachers. He took over for a coach - a Hall of Fame coach - whose father was a New York City cop. The women's soccer coach is also from a family in law enforcement.

The women's track and field coach is a New York City Catholic high school product who through his own hard work and natural abilities was able to run at the dream school for kids from his background, Notre Dame.

TigerBlog could go on and on about the people he works with.

Nobody handed any of them anything.

And the athletes?

Yeah, some come elite prep schools. Many come from public schools.

The point is that it doesn't matter.

Either you can play or you can't. Either you worked hard enough to be a Princeton student or you didn't.

That's it.

Privilege? Entitlement?

Not in these arenas.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

British Heir Ways

TigerBlog saw a great 10-second video, from a reporter in England who was camped out in front of the hospital where Kate Middleton was in labor.

Basically, the reporter did everything but roll his eyes at the absurdity of what he was doing there. When he did speak, he essentially said “we’ll be here, even if there’s no news, because the Palace will be announcing it anyway.”

And so it would be that later in the day, the Palace did in fact make its public announcement. It was a boy.

The way it works, TB learned from the radio, is that the announcement is taken from the hospital to Buckingham Palace, where the Queen is informed. Then it’s posted outside on a simple blackboard, which is how it’s made public.

The new baby is third in line – behind his grandfather Charles and his father William - to the throne of an empire that dates to 1066 and includes 16 different countries.  

To this TB offers the following: were he Canadian, the whole thing would offend him.

Since he’s an American, it’s not as big a deal, because nobody is claiming to be his king or queen.

Maybe it’s an American thing, or at least supposed to be an American thing. This country was founded way back when because of the repugnant concept of a monarchy, of someone who is simply by virtue of his/her birth endowed with the right to rule over others.

Here, in America, the whole show is based on the idea of a self-evident truth, that everyone is created equal. Okay, Thomas Jefferson said all men are created equal, but these days, that means all men and women.


Not royalty.

TB has never been a fan of the royal family, of the concept of a monarchy.

What he doesn’t understand is why the British go nuts over the royals. Aren’t they as offended as TB would be were he one of the commoners?

TB does have a great deal of respect for William and his brother Harry for their military service, something they didn’t need to do. Both of them are well-accomplished officers who have put their lives in danger in service, to, well, uh, yeah, that’s where it gets sticky.

It’s supposed be in service to the country. Not to the Queen.

And it's not like they govern the country or anything. They are the royal family of a great democracy.

Yeah, TB gets the celebrity allure of it all. But that’s not exactly making it more appealing to him.

TB has never been to London, though it looks like a great city to visit. Certainly that’s how it came across during the Olympics last summer.

Has it really been only a year since those Olympics?

Princeton was well-represented there, including in the sport of field hockey. Four Princeton players were on the national team, three were on the Olympic roster and two started every game in London.

Then they all came back to Princeton, where they rolled through the Ivy League (going 7-0 and outscoring its opponents 45-1) and then defeated Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina in order to win the NCAA championship as well, ending an 11-year run by the ACC.

TB was looking at yesterday and noticed that the lead story was the announcement of the field hockey schedule.

The opener is no day at the beach, as Duke comes to Bedford Field on Sept. 6. As in six weeks from Friday. As in will be here before anyone can blink an eye.

Princeton has its usual tough non-conference schedule, including games at UConn, Maryland and Syracuse, which was the only team to knock off the Tigers a year ago, when they went 21-1, as well as home against Penn State, an NCAA quarterfinal team a year ago.

Princeton graduated Kat Sharkey and Katie Reinprecht, but it still has national team players Michele Cesan and Julia Reinprecht, as well as an army of players back from a year ago.

It’s hard to say the Tigers are the preseason favorite to repeat, given how dominant the ACC teams are and the two huge graduation losses, but Princeton will be up there with anyone.

As always, goal No. 1 is the Ivy League championship, which Princeton has won eight straight times and 18 of the last 19.

And then there is the idea of seeing how well the team can do nationally. The regular season ends, by the way, with a game against local rival Rider, who is as strong in field hockey as it is in any sport.

And the season will be played on a reconstructed Bedford Field, with its permanent stands that back up to those at Class of 1952 Stadium, as well as other amenities such as a new press box and concession areas. There will also be team rooms built near the trees where the Dining Services truck used to park.

And it’ll all be here before you know it.

Hey, it’ll be six weeks from now.

Maybe the new prince will have slept through the night by then.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Sandy Koufax Didn't Pitch On Yom Kippur

MotherBlog used one sentence to express her disdain with whatever decision her younger son made that she didn't agree with.

"Sandy Koufax," she would say, "didn't pitch in the World Series on Yom Kippur."

It's true.

Back in 1965, Koufax was the best pitcher in baseball, and his Los Angeles Dodgers made it to the World Series against the Minnesota Twins. Game 1 fell on the holiest day of the Jewish year, and so Koufax didn't pitch.

The rest of the story is fairly legendary. LA, with Don Drysdale, lost Game 1, and then Koufax lost Game 2. Claude Osteen saved the Dodgers with a shutout in Game 3, and then Drydale and Koufax (a four-hit shutout) put the Dodgers up three games to two before the Twins evened it against Osteen.

That left Koufax to go on two days rest, and he responded with a three-hit shutout in a 2-0 victory.

MotherBlog took what happened in the 1965 World Series and used it to get her son to second-guess himself. It started, probably, when TigerBlog wanted to do something on either Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur and then expanded to become a catch-all to mean "your mother disapproves of what you're thinking or doing."

While it won't quite get the publicity of Koufax and the 1965 Series, the 2013 women's lacrosse World Cup had something similar come up.

Israel, with recent Princeton grad Sam Ellis on the team, lost to Canada in the quarterfinals, which put the team into the playoffs for 5-8 finishes. Israel lost to Scotland and then was supposed to play the Haudenosaunee nation (the women's equivalent of the Iroquois), except the game was supposed to be played Saturday, the Jewish sabbath.

Rather than compete on the sabbath, the Israelis forfeited.

“The Haudenosaunee Nation women’s lacrosse team respects Israel’s right to stand up for what they believe in and we wish them all the best with their program,” said Haudenosaunee Chair Kathy Smith. “We understand the importance of national identity and are respectful of the sacrifices the Israelis’ are willing to make to uphold what is important to them. We are optimistic we will have the opportunity to play against Israel in a friendly game in the near future.”

As for the championship of the event, it went to the United States. The Americans were never really challenged, as they went 7-0, had only one game be within 10 goals (18-9 over Australia) and outscored its opponents by a combined 128-36.

The final was more of the same, as the Americans defeated Canada, the host country, 19-5.

The U.S. team included Holly McGarvie Reilly, a 2009 Princeton grad who is married to former men's lacrosse player Brendan Reilly.

The world championship was the seventh for the U.S. in the nine times the event has been held, every four years since 1982. Sort of. It was held in 1982 and 1986 and then three years later in 1989 and then every four years since; TB has no idea why.

The only two times that the U.S. didn't win, the Australians did, in 1986 and 2005. When Canada defeated Australia in the semifinals, it ended a streak of four straight U.S.-Australia finals.

Much like the men's side, the big problem with international women's lacrosse is the precipitous drop-off from the top down. In men's international lacrosse, the U.S. has won nine of the 11 world championships, while Canada has won the other two.

Australia has reached the final three times; no other team has ever made it.

Because the U.S. almost always wins and the only other teams with a realistic chance to get to the finals are Canada and Australia, it keeps the sport from growing internationally. This is probably the biggest reason, for instance, that the sport hasn't gotten much Olympic traction.

There is, by the way, no reason to expect a different outcome in the 2014 men's world championships, which will be held in Denver.

In the meantime, the U.S. gets to celebrate another world women's champoinship.

And Israel gets to know it had a good week as well. A principled one as well.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Bradley And Lind

Who is the best male athlete in Princeton history?

TigerBlog thinks a better question is who is the fourth-best male athlete in Princeton history?

The top three spots appear to be locked in among Hobey Baker, Bill Bradley and Dick Kazmier. TB would say that Baker and Bradley are the top two, followed by Kazmaier.

So who would be fourth?

There are so many possibilities. TB can think of about 20 off the top of his head, and there are probably twice that many that you could make a case for if you really wanted. That's what happens when your athletic program is 149 years old.

Actually, TB isn't sure who would get his endorsement for the No. 4 spot. He'll have to think about it.

The same logic behind the No. 4 male athlete in Princeton history basically applies to the question of who is the greatest female athlete in Princeton history.

Women's athletics at Princeton are not nearly as old as men's athletics, as they date back just over 40 years. Still, in that time, Princeton has built a model women's athletic program, one that has achieved across-the-board success that the pioneers in the early 1970s probably never dreamed possible.

Again, TB can come up with 20 names right off the top of his head.

Actually, this is one of the big problems that TB has always imagined for a Princeton Athletics Hall of Fame. Beyond the top three iconic male athletes, there would be 60-80 or even more equally deserving candidates.

And while we're on the subject, who are the most successful Princeton alums in non-Princeton athletic endeavors?

Again, TB would go with Bradley on the men's side.

Two NBA championships with the Knicks, for whom he was a starter. An Olympic gold medal  in 1964. A Sullivan Award.

And on the women's side?

How about rower Caroline Lind? The 2006 graduate, who was the stroke for the Tigers' NCAA championship first varsity 8 boat her senior year, has put together quite the post-Princeton resume.

Lind is a two-time Olympic gold medalist, winning in 2008 in Beijing and 2012 in London. She has also won four gold medals at the world championships.

Most recently, at the World Cup in Switzerland, Lind was part of the winning U.S. women's 8 that not only won but also set a world record, covering the 2,000-meter course in 5:54.16. Lind was joined in the boat by Heidi Robbins, who graduated last month and who like Lind was a von Kienbusch Award winner.

You can make a case for several others, TB is sure.

Lynn Jennings, for instance, was an Olympic bronze medalist in the 10,000 meters and a three-time world cross country champion. Diana Matheson has made more than 150 appearances for the Canadian women's national soccer team, with an Olympic bronze medal (on her goal) and multiple World Cups included.

TB is always afraid to start naming people, for fear of leaving out the obvious.

Still, Lind's post-Princeton career has been extraordinary.

As for who is No. 4 on the men's side or No. 1 among Princeton women all-time?

He's still thinking about it.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Big Story

So Johnny Manziel is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, a 20-year-old at a gigantic football school in the biggest football school in the country and apparently likes to go out and have fun?

This is news?

Uh, no. It isn't.

Manziel is a bit immature. He went from "nobody ever heard of him redshirt freshman at Texas A&M" to "Johnny Football" and then the Heisman in a flash. As a result, fame - if not fortune - was his prize.

Everywhere he went, people wanted to be around him. When you're 20 and the biggest football star in college, life is good. So he's taken advantage of it.

Yesterday was SEC football media day, and apparently 1,200 media members crowded around Manziel breathlessly, to hear his every word.

TigerBlog has a news flash for them.

Manziel isn't a big story. It'd be a bigger story if he didn't react at least some of the way he has.

There are three big stories in college athletics right now. One is the trend of earlier and earlier recruiting. Another is conference realignment.

The third, and by a wide, wide margin, is the lawsuit originally brought by Ed O'Bannon against the NCAA for using his likeness without his approval.

This issue came up yesterday in another story, one that didn't get 1/1,000th of the attention that Manziel did for leaving the Peyton Manning camp.

And by the way, if you ever need someone to be a stand-up, class act, it appears that Peyton Manning is the one, especially when he could have tossed Manziel completely under the bus.

Anyway, the crux of the issue is that the NCAA may be on the hook for billions of dollars if the lawsuit goes for O'Bannon. It has the potential to completely change the way the NCAA operates and the way college athletics are administered.

Notice that TB said fame, but not fortune, was his prize.

In the world of the NCAA rulebook, Johnny Manziel cannot cash in on what otherwise would be millions of dollars worth of endorsements, because to do so would mean the end of his college eligibility.

Imagine a world where that wasn't the case.

Imagine a world where college athletes retain the rights to their own likenesses and their own ability to generate revenue. That's what's at stake in the O'Bannon case.

Of course it is a grind-it-out-dull-as-dirt legal proceeding, one with very complex issues, so it gets very little play.

The results could be dramatic.

Big-time college football and men's basketball are huge businesses. They generate millions for these schools. Coaches get paid enormous salaries. Alumni giving is often tied to athletic success.

The athletes? They get not one cent, at least not legally, despite the fact that they are the reason all that money is pouring in.

Think about it. Is there another arena in society where that is the case? The ones who bring in the money have no legal right to any of it?

You could make the case that those athletes are getting paid in scholarships and room and board and all, and that's actually a pretty good point. Except that in the case of players like Manziel, it's not even close to equitable.

And a bigger issue is that these athletes don't have any recourse other than to play by the NCAAs rules, which date back a long way.

On the other hand, what exactly is the NCAA - meaning its member schools - supposed to do if it has to all of the sudden start paying out money? Should every athlete be paid? Only those whose sports turn profits? What about Title IX?

On a much simpler level, anyone could go into the bookstore and buy a No. 22 Princeton lacrosse jersey. Should Tom Schreiber get compensated for that? 

The big story yesterday wasn't Manziel at SEC media day. It was that the NCAA announced it was not renewing its contract with EA Sports for its video games. The story is filled with interesting quotes, including these:
"We are confident in our legal position regarding the use of our trademarks in video games," the NCAA said. "But given the current business climate and costs of litigation, we determined participating in this game is not in the best interests of the NCAA.
"The NCAA has never licensed the use of current student-athlete names, images or likenesses to EA. The NCAA has no involvement in licenses between EA and former student-athletes."

There is a lot riding on the outcome of the O'Bannon case. It might not be sexy, like a partying Heisman Trophy winner who appears to constantly be living it up.

But it is game-changing.

All of college sports will be affected by the outcome.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

On The Cover Of The Rolling Stone

TigerBlog knows the song. He didn't know the group.

The song is "The Cover of the Rolling Stone," which was an early 1970s offering that became relatively famous as a commentary on the definition of success in the music business. The goal, obviously, was to be on "The Cover of the Rolling Stone," which as anyone in the 1970s knew, meant Rolling Stone magazine, which was the bible of the entertainment industry back then.

TB heard the song the other day, for the first time in years and years. It's a cute, clever, funny little song.

Then it dawned on TB that he couldn't remember who sang it.

As an aside, when Miss TigerBlog is in the car and listening to her songs on her stations, TB is always saying things like "who is this, Pink? Rihanna? Bruno Mars?" It's his way of saying that it all sounds the same.

Anyway ,at first, TB thought it was the Allman Brothers who sang "The Cover of the Rolling Stone." Then he thought it might have been Lynyrd Skynyrd.

It would have taken him a long, long time before he came up with Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show.

TB's favorite Rolling Stone cover of all time, by the way, isn't one of the many times that Bruce Springsteen was on. Nope. It was the one that had a picture of an up-and-coming group, with the blaring headline "Duran Duran - The Beatles Of The ’80s."

Rolling Stone magazine - and its cover - was featured prominently in the outstanding movie "Almost Famous." Again, it was set back in the 1970s.

These days, Rolling Stone isn't what it once was. In fact, TB wasn't even sure it was still being published - until he awoke to the news that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who will be tried for his role in the Boston Marathon bombing last April, was on the cover of the next issue of the magazine.

The story is probably a pretty good one. Apparently, it's about how a "popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam, and became a monster." TigerBlog will never know, though, because he will never read it.

He's too appalled by the cover.

The next cover of the Rolling Stone shows Tsarnev, with his long curly hair, goatee and non-smiling smirk. He looks very much like a rock star - except he's accused of killing four people, including a police officer and a child, physically injuring hundreds of others and emotionally injuring an entire nation.

And there he is on the cover.

TB's first thought was to wonder how many people will look at the cover and feel sorry for Tsarnev, like he's just a lost soul who got in a little trouble. Hey, there's going to be a segment of the population who thinks it's exciting.

Or worse. Who think it's the way to be famous.

And let's face it. In 2013 America, it's about fame for the sake of fame.

That's what reality TV is all about. Get on TV. Be famous. It doesn't matter what you did - doesn't matter how anti-social or reprehensible. As long as you're famous.

With fame comes all kinds of perks, and not just money. TB always scoffs and wonders what's happening to America when he sees people referred to as "reality TV stars," as if that's some sort of accomplishment.

In the case of this Rolling Stone cover, though, it's a celebration of someone who doesn't not need to be celebrated.

And Rolling Stone did it for the shock value. Websites liberal and conservative have pictures of the magazine cover on them this morning, and the debate is raging on Twitter.

And that's exactly what Rolling Stone wanted.

At the far other end of the spectrum are pictures like this one.

TigerBlog has no idea where that gym is. He has no idea of the context.

He recognizes three faces in the picture - women's basketball Director of Operations Tyler Cordell and women's basketball players Kristen Helmstetter and Amanda Berntsen.

The picture is from Princeton head women's basketball coach Courtney Banghart's Twitter feed. Her words are: "Evening of hoops with those that are both grateful and refreshing."

This was done far away from the spotlight, and done not for personal recognition but instead because it was a way to acknowledge the great gifts that Cordell, Helmstetter and Berntsen have been given in their own lives.

It was about their love of their sports, and a way to share that love with others who haven't been gifted in quite the same way.

TigerBlog saw the two pictures consecutively on Twitter.

The cover of the Rolling Stone.

And the picture that should have been the cover.

It's not something that's unique to Princeton women's basketball or Princeton athletics. Or Ivy athletics or athletics at all.

Pictures like the one of the three members of the women's basketball program are taken all over the country. They are happy, joyous pictures of wonderful moments, when those who have been given so much give their time to others whose appreciation leaps out of the photo.

And so what if it's not going to be the magazine cover? It's not the kind of thing that sells, and worse, it's not the kind of thing that generates the buzz that a mass murderer can.

So what?

It's way bigger than that.

It only took from one tweet to the next for TB to feel like there's hope for America after all.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

What If A Princeton Athlete Had Said It?

If you're a fan of the New York Giants, like TigerBlog is, then you can't help but love Victor Cruz.

Undrafted out of UMass, Cruz had a monster preseason game against the Jets in 2010, catching three TD passes. Like most Giants fans, TB immediately began to root for Cruz to be on the final roster.

Cruz made the team that year but pulled his hamstring and didn't catch a single pass before being put on injured reserve.

Ah, but 2011. Now that was a season.

Cruz caught 82 passes for a Giants-record 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns, including a 99-yarder against the Jets. He then caught 21 more passes in the postseason as the Giants won the Super Bowl.

To prove it wasn't a fluke, he came back last year with 86 catches, 1,086 yards, 10 touchdowns and his first Pro Bowl appearance.

To Giants fans, he was the complete package. Young. Local (from Paterson, N.J.). Not a big-time college football program. Nobody had ever heard of him, and then all of the sudden he was a superstar.

On top of that, he always appeared happy. Always smiling. Always said the right thing. Looked like he was having a blast, like he was the one professional athlete who understood that he had been so overwhelmingly blessed. Even his signature touchdown salsa dance comes across as joyful, rather than self-serving.

Even when he renegotiated his contract this off-season, Cruz didn't come across as greedy. He said all the right things. Both sides did. It was the least acrimonious renegotiation ever, and it ended when he signed his contact last week. Five years. $46 million.

Cruz was one of the first people TB followed when he first set up a Twitter account. Cruz is always tweeting happy little messages and pictures of him with kids at schools he visits and things like that.

Last week, there was a great picture of Cruz, his arms outstretched in front of MetLife Stadium, after he signed.

That tweet didn't get quite the attention of one of his more recent ones, which came in the moments after the verdict in the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case.

TB first heard about the tweet while listening to Craig Carton and Boomer Esiason on WFAN yesterday morning, and his first thought was "uh oh, what did he say." Then he found out:
"Thoroughly confused. Zimmerman doesn't last a year before the hood catches up to him."

Cruz deleted the tweet and then posted a series of other ones apologizing.

TB takes Cruz at his word on his apologies.

The point is that it used to be that anyone could say something dumb or inappropriate or that they'd regret, but for the world to find out about it, they had to say it to someone else.

Now, especially with Twitter (should "tweet" be capitalized?"), anyone can say whatever, wherever, whenever - and the world can simply find out about it from there.

TB doesn't for a minute believe that Victor Cruz is advocating vigilante justice against George Zimmerman. And TB's overall opinion of Cruz is unchanged in the least.

But in the moment, he did send it out there, with no context, with no way to explain.

Just 140 characters or fewer.

TigerBlog was asked over the weekend - for about the 1,000th time - what if anything Princeton's policy is on having its athletes tweet.

As TB has said before, there isn't one, other than to give advice and hope nothing bad happens.

The advice?

Hey - Princeton Athlete - nobody is going to censor you. Just make sure you think before you hit send, and always assumes that your coach, your teammates, every coach and player you'll compete against, every ref, everyone on the admissions board at your dream medical school, every potential employer and of course your parents are going to see what you put out there.

To date, there haven't been any big problems with a Princeton athlete or coach and Twitter. Is that day coming? Probably.

It's a tough situation. Young people should be encouraged to participate on the kind of forums that Twitter provides, especially the kinds of kids at Princeton (not to sound like a snob). And TB thinks it's fine if people want to articulate their views, even if they are controversial.

It's when they cross the line to inappropriate that it becomes a problem.

So what would have happened had a Princeton athlete tweeted what Cruz did after the verdict in the Zimmerman/Martin case?

TB isn't quite sure.

For starters, it wouldn't have generated the national attention that the one that Cruz did. Well, maybe that's not true. Maybe it would have, coming from an Ivy League athlete.

So what would happen? Would Princeton be forced to act? Suspend the athlete for a game?

What would be the right thing to do in that case?

It comes back to one of TB's all-time burning questions. Who decides when the line has been crossed?

If Princeton were to discipline the athlete for saying that, then what about a tweet that simply had disagreed with the verdict? Or one that was tamer but included a curse word? Would the fact that school is not in session now matter?

Who gets to say?

It's a privilege to be a Princeton athlete, and with that comes certain responsibilities for personal conduct. This extends beyond those times when the athlete is competing for the school.

Honestly, TB isn't sure on this one.

His instinct is to say that some punishment would have to be considered.

The more he thinks about it, though, the more he thinks it's all part of the educational process. It's supposed to be about an exchange of ideas and thoughts.

Even ones that don't come out the right way.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Head Coach Greg Raymond

Greg Raymond stood at the top of the alley and peered cautiously down. He could see little, as it was completely dark by now.

Maybe two or three hours earlier, he had walked up the alley, one that cut off about half of the walk from his hotel to the restaurant that he and about 10 others from the Princeton men's lacrosse travel party had made on their way to eat.

Back then, it had been light out. Now it was dark.

This was 13 months ago, during Princeton's trip to Costa Rica. The alley was in San Jose, the capital city.

Raymond is a big guy. He has a tough persona. He has a deep voice that gets his point across in normal terms and even more so with the slightest enunciation, to the point where he never needs to actually yell.

So what did he say as he began to go the long way, avoiding the alley?

Something to the extent of this: "I'm not afraid of anyone I may find down there, but I am not messing with any of those stray dogs."

And there is Greg Raymond in a nutshell.

Funny. Outgoing. Strong. Honest. Smart enough to know will work and what won't.

If TigerBlog had to describe Raymond, who was named the new head men's lacrosse coach at Hobart this weekend, he'd probably say how he's tough enough to walk down a dark alley at night in Costa Rica but smart enough not to.

Actually, he'd say a lot more.

TB has seen so many young assistant coaches during his time here. Presumably they've all wanted to be head coaches at some point.

The problem is that there aren't many head coaching jobs out there, certainly not enough for everyone to reach that goal.

In Raymond's case, it was obvious from Day 1 that he was going to get there. He just has a quality about him that separates him from most people who come through the door.

He was a three-time captain at Johns Hopkins, and his career ended with an NCAA title in 2005. TB was at the game and never noticed Raymond, the longstick midfielder. Or maybe he did, but he never imagined how much time the two would end up spending together.

Raymond first came to Princeton in 2007, when Bill Tierney was still the Tiger head coach. He stayed for two years and then left to go to Drexel, where the head coach was Chris Bates, another guy who doesn't need to yell to get his point across.

When Bates took over for Tierney a year later, he brought Raymond back with him.

Since then, it's been a matter of when, not if, Raymond would be a head coach. The countdown ended this past weekend, when Hobart wisely hired him.

With his level of maturity and the way he carries himself, it's hard to remember that he's just 30.

He certainly carries scars with him, the kind that most of us could never imagine. TigerBlog has seen the "21" tattoo that Raymond has on his chest, but he's never once talked to Raymond about anything to do with what happened that wintry night, the night that his best friend died in a car that he was driving.

TB has thought about it often through the years, how much it weighs on him, how much he grew from that moment, how that came not to define him as a person or a professional and yet has to have impacted him in both.

There have been random moments since when TB has been around Raymond and thought about what happened, wondered how often it comes back to him.

TB remembers when it happened. And he remembers everyone's reactions.

There was fierce loyalty to Raymond back then. He's the kind who brings that out in people.

And so everyone stood up for him, became protective of him. And they all worked hard to get him a second chance.

It became his job to live up to that second chance and to be worthy of all the people who stood up for him. As someone who has seen him up close all these years since, TB can also say that there have been so many random moments when he has looked at Raymond, thought about it and wanted to say to everyone who helped him get through that moment that their faith has more than been rewarded.

And so Greg Raymond is leaving Princeton now for his first head coaching job.

Hobart is getting itself a man of the highest quality, the highest integrity.

And a charismatic man, one to whom others are just naturally drawn.

TB has seen Raymond go through the game plan with his team after breakfasts on game day. He's seen him after big wins and when games haven't gone as well.

He's seen him wake up out of deep sleep when a plane landed and have him bolt up, look around, and say "hey, I'm in Spain." He's seen him covered in mud after ziplining in Costa Rica.

He's seen him interact with little kids at Princeton lacrosse camp. He's seen him around lacrosse parents and alums, at parties, at staff meetings, in the lockerroom when he's been going to work out or play basketball.

He's seen him in all of these settings and more.

And through all of them, TB has been impressed with the way he carries himself, the way he makes everyone around him laugh, the way he can do all that while at the same time being focused and driven on the task at hand. In many ways he reminds TB of Bates.

TB knew Greg Raymond was going to be a head coach one day.

Not just a head coach. A wildly successful one.

Hobart has made the perfect choice. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Reaching Beyond Scores And Statistics

TigerBlog can't remember exactly how old he was when he first got a subscription to Sports Illustrated.

It was definitely in the early ’70s. He knows that for sure.

Among the earliest issues he remembers was the one with the 1973 Indy 500, which was one of the more tragic sporting events ever conducted.

Through the years, TB would get his magazine every Thursday (he's pretty sure it was Thursday) and then read it cover-to-cover.

The writing is what stood out mostly for TB.

Whenever someone asks TB for writing advice, his answer is always the same. Read good writers.

So while TB didn't realize it at the time, his own future as a writer was being shaped, in part, by reading Sports Illustrated every week.

TB thought of that when he saw that Princeton's Frank Deford was being honored by President Obama this week as one of the 12 recipients of the National Humanities Medal.

Deford was one of the writers for SI whose work TB read all the time. At the time, TB had no idea about Deford's connection to Princeton or, for that matter, about what TB's own connection to the University would be.

Deford, a one-time sports editor of the Daily Princetonian, is a member of the Class of 1961. This is the wording for his medal:

His citation for the National Humanities Medal reads as follows: Frank Deford, sports writer, for transforming how we think about sports. A dedicated writer and storyteller, Mr. Deford has offered a consistent, compelling voice in print and on radio, reaching beyond scores and statistics to reveal the humanity woven into the games we love.

The key words here for TB are "in print and on radio."

Way back when TB first started reading newspapers and magazines, there was a huge difference between those who were writers and those who were on TV and radio. None of those who wrote were ever visible, except if they had a small headshot next to their column or something like that.

Today, of course, it's all different.

The crossover between print and broadcast is everywhere. In fact, many of the top writers have become the most visible faces on television. Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon, for instance, were both Washington Post writers long before they were ever on Pardon the Interruption on ESPN every weekday.

TB hasn't always been a huge fan of this crossover, partly because of the self-promotional aspect of it and partly because of how much of it has become a "notice me, let me see how outrageous I can be" race to the bottom.

When that story came out a few week ago about the sports-talk radio announcers who made jokes about Steve Gleason, the former New Orleans Saints football player who has ALS, TB couldn't help but wonder what the surprise was. Yes, it was completely tasteless.

But hey, what do you expect? The world is flooded now with those whose job it is to stand out, to be the most noticeable. Someone lowers the bar. Someone else needs to go lower. Eventually a dignified man with an incurable disease is the subject of knock-knock jokes.

All of this brings TB back to Frank Deford.

He was one of the first to go from writer to broadcaster. He did it on HBO, on National Public Radio, on other outlets. In many ways, he was a pioneer of the movement.

The difference is that his way was to elevate the conversation. He stood out with thought-provoking ideas, not schtick.

He has written extensively in his career about Princeton basketball, including a piece in Sports Illustrated from 1965, when Princeton reached the NCAA Final Four. Deford writes a great deal about Bill Bradley, and he also talks about Princeton's then-sophomore point guard.

Deford has returned to campus many times through the years. In fact, that former point guard, Director of Athletics Gary Walters, has brought him here for Princeton Varsity Club events.

TB has met Deford a few times, and there's a certain dignity to the way he speaks and interacts with people. He is a tall man with a soft voice, which only adds to the dignity. He is not screaming to be heard above the crowd; he is speaking ideas that rise above it.

And now he has been honored with a National Humanities Medal.

Those are given out by Presidents, and as such, they are not given to just anyone. The exact wording is this:
The National Humanities Medal honors individuals or groups whose work has deepened the nation’s understanding of the humanities, broadened our citizens’ engagement with the humanities, or helped preserve and expand Americans’ access to important resources in the humanities.

Frank Deford clearly deserves his. He has spent his entire career engaging those who read his work or heard him speak to think differently and clearly about issues in a great range of areas, most particularly in athletics, with its unique issues and complexities.

That he's done so the way he has - with such a large degree of class - shows that it doesn't have to just be about who can scream the loudest.

Maybe those who feel inclined to will learn from him.

At the very least, it gives TB hope.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

38 For 38

So here's the update on the lingering problem of TigerBlog's car air conditioner:

To review, TB's air conditioner stopped working for one day in early June or so before working fine after that for a few more weeks. Then it started going in and out, and it didn't work for much longer than it did.

TB took it over to Ron, where most of the OAC people take their cars, who tried a stop-gap fix, which lasted about three days before the AC broke again. This led to a weekend of simply unbearable conditions as TB drove back and forth to Long Island.

He took the car to Connecticut Monday, and the AC worked fine on the way up and not at all on the way back, which included going through New York City at rush hour.

So back it was to Ron Tuesday morning. This time it was clear that a new compressor was necessary. Total bill: around $1,000.

Plus, the car needs, as part of regular wear and tear, new tires and new rear brakes. Bill for that: around $700 or $800.

The car has 145,000 miles on it, and TB has one payment left.

And so this was the dilemma: invest nearly $2,000 into a car that has 145,000 miles on it or trade it in and start over while the car still has some value.

Complicating matters is the fact that TigerBlog Jr. is less than six months away from getting his license, and a beat-up car that's still in fairly good shape seems like a good car for him.

Plus, even with a $2,000 investment, the money saved by not having a car payment could cover it in less than six months.

On the other hand, that $2,000 would be a good start for a down payment on a new car.

In the end, TB decided to stay with his car, put the money into it and hope for the best.

And while he's on the subject, why did the AC have to go in the beginning of the summer? Why couldn't it have gone at the end of the summer, when it wouldn't have been as big a deal?

Instead, the troubles began just when the weather started getting hot and have continued into the hottest days of the summer. Right now is around the midpoint between the end of last athletic year and the start of the new one, though the exact date is hard to calculate.

Are you counting the last actual game a Princeton team played? Or are you talking about the end of the track and field championships, when a handful of Princeton athletes were competing? And are you talking about a cross country meet Aug. 31 as the first event of this year, or are you talking about the first games, which are a week later?

Either way, yesterday was Day 1 of Princeton's "38 Days, 38 Sports" series, which will be a preview of each team for its coming season.

The series began with baseball. It includes a look at the head coach, the program history, the top current players and some basic program information for the new year.

It's a good idea, the brainchild of the OAC's Andrew Borders (who also takes his car to Ron). It's the perfect series for the summer, when the news is a little slower and there are no events.

TB has always been surprised by how much news actually cycles through the webpage during the summer, considering that most of the information on the site during the year is specific to games, whether they be previews, recaps or rankings/player of the week stuff - none of which happens during the summer.

Still, it's always good to come up with something new, and the 38/38 idea does that. And it should peak interest for each program for the coming year.

It started with baseball. Today is field hockey. Tomorrow is football. Next week features women's tennis, men's heavyweight rowing, women's basketball, men's outdoor track and field and women's open rowing.

It continues with one each business day, up until the opening day of the 2013-14 year.

By which time the weather will have started to cool, TB's car will be paid off - and he'll be left to hope that it lasts for awhile longer now that he's written a $2,000 check.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Happy 83rd

When TigerBlog first thought of having to come up with subjects every day in the summer, he figured there would be no way to do it.

There are no events. What can he write about?

He figured he'd go three times a week instead of every day. Or maybe rerun some blogs from earlier in the year. Maybe the blog from exactly six months earlier.

Six months ago today was Jan. 10, 2013. TigerBlog wrote about drug testing in professional sports and how it applies to college - and Princeton - athletes.

If worse came to worse, TB figured, he could always just tell funny Pete Carril stories on his summer blogs. People seem to love those.

Like the time that TigerBlog was sitting in the middle seat on an airplane, one row behind Carril, who was in the middle in front of him. To Carril's left was then-assistant coach Bill Carmody. To Carril's right was an older gentleman; Carril was probably around 65 at the time.

Anyway, Carril was working on a crossword puzzle, and the old man kept looking down at the newspaper Carril had, mumbling "21 down is such-and-such; 40 across is this." Each time he did it, Carril just nodded at the man and smiled. Finally, when he went to do it again, Carril said, in classic fashion: "Yo, Pops, when I want your help, I'll ask for it."

Great stuff.

Want another one?

Glenn Nelson, the former volleyball coach, kept asking Carril - his longtime tennis partner - for a pair of Sacramento Kings shorts when Carril started working there. Finally, Carril gave him a pair. The next day, Nelson saw Carril in Jadwin and said "remember those brand-new Kings shorts you gave me? Your wallet was in the pocket."

Then he flipped his wallet back to him.

When told one of his players had made the all-tournament team at an in-season tournament, Carril's response was? "I saw that. I also saw the guy he was guarding made it." When Carmody asked rhetorically "how dumb can you be?" when one player went left instead of right out of a timeout, Carril answered "don't sell him short; he's very dumb."

One player had great shooting range; he just didn't have great making range. How did Princeton shut down one high-scoring team? They had guardable players and we guarded them.

One time when Princeton played a game at Iowa State, the official was the same one who had called Bobby Knight for the technical, prompting a relatively famous moment in college basketball history. When Carril thought his team was getting the short end of the officiating stick, he yelled out "no wonder that guy threw a chair at you."

Why tell these stories today? Because it's July 10, which is Carril's 83rd birthday.

TB was going to write a little bit about Carril for his birthday, but instead he's going to revisit some things he wrote two and three years ago, because they're both still so true.

This was from his 80th birthday:

He is a driven man, one with a high level of expectation of those who played for him.

In Carril's own words: "If you lower standards, they turn around and attack you."

TigerBlog maintains that in the long history of Princeton athletics, there are four icons who rise above everyone else. Three were Princeton athletes - Hobey Baker, Dick Kazmaier and Bill Bradley; the fourth is Carril.

TB once wrote that Carril has long been the conscience of Princeton basketball (and to a larger extreme, Princeton athletics), and by that he means that Carril was never one to let anyone get away with anything less than full effort, full commitment. He couldn't be conned as head coach, and he cared little about what a person's background was. Nobody had a free pass on his teams.

He himself grew up poor, and TB has heard stories both heartfelt and hysterical about Carril's experiences as a child and the effect they had on him.

Today, at the age of 80, he's a more mellow person. He's still the conscience of Princeton basketball, but he does so from the perspective of your wise old uncle that you see a few times a year.

And yet, he hasn't slowed a step. He still has the quick wit, the dominating persona, the ability to sniff out the BS immediately.

There has never been anyone to walk into Jadwin Gym quite like Pete Carril. Now that he's 80, there still isn't, and TB suspects it will forever be this way.

And this was from his 81st:

TB tells Carril stories all the time, always getting big laughs from the people here who hardly know the man.

It's something TB will do for as long as he is here, because it's important for everyone here to know who Carril is and what he did for Princeton basketball and Princeton Athletics.

As Carril walked slowly down the hallway, hobbling somewhat from years of wear-and-tear, TB was thinking about how Carril is in the basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

Think about it. Is there anyone in the Hall of Fame who did less as a player, no offense to Carril's solid career at Lafayette? Or, for that matter, as a coach, where he his resume includes no NCAA championships, no Final Fours, no international success.

In a building filled with people who were NBA champions, Olympic gold medalists, college All-Americas, Carril's place there is unique.

Put another way, the Hall of Fame features an army of people who are there because of what they were physically. Carril is enshrined because of his mind and the impact that his mind had on his sport.

There is nobody else like Pete Carril, at least nobody that TB has ever met.

It's always good to hear the "Yo."

For his 83rd, TB will simply say Happy Birthday Coach.

And he speaks for all of Princeton when he says "many more."

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


The key number for today is 71.1%, and TigerBlog will get to that after he asks you how long it has been since you've seen "The Silence of the Lambs?"

TigerBlog assumes that pretty much everyone has seen it at least once, and if you have, it's left you fairly freaked out for life to a certain extent.

TB isn't sure the first time he saw it. He doesn't think it was back in 1991, when it first came out and did something only three movies have ever done, which is to sweep Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Actress.

The other two?

"It Happened One Night" and "One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest."

Anthony Hopkins' performance as Hannibal Lecter is extraordinary. It's not easy, after all, to make a cannibalistic serial killer so likeable, like the kind of person you'd want to have a meal with, well, uh, no to that actually.

Hopkins completely dominates the movie, so much so that it's easy to forget that he's on screen for a mere 16 minutes in the entire movie, which may be the shortest time for any Best Actor winner.

As an aside, the most recent Best Supporting Actress winner, Anne Hathaway in "Les Miserables," was on screen for 15 minutes. TB has her third in her own movie among supporting actresses behind Cosette and Eponine, and Hathaway spent 4:48 of her 15 minutes butchering "I Dreamed A Dream."

Meanwhile, back at "The Silence of the Lambs," TB watched it the other night, and it served as a wild reminder of just how freaky the movie really is.

It's scary not because someone is hiding behind the tree with a hockey mask on but because of the character development, the sense that the viewer gets of hoping (but realizing it's futile) that Dr. Lecter will help catch Buffalo Bill without any ulterior motives and because of the way it is filmed, especially the scene where the FBI agents in Illinois and Starling in Ohio are knocking on the door at the same time, with only one at the right house.

Meanwhile, back at 71.1%.

The annual report is due today.

For the OAC, that means compiling a certain amount of data, something that TB always finds interesting.

For interest, Princeton played 606 games in the 2012-13 academic year. This doesn't count things like golf tournaments and track and field meets and such where there were multiple teams in competition.

In rowing, dual races count; larger regattas don't. Also in rowing, if there are three boats that go head-to-head, the team that comes in first is 2-0, the team that comes in second is 1-1 and the team that comes in third is 0-2.

As an aside, TB was once in an Ivy League sports information directors meeting when the subject of what counts as a win and what counts as a loss came up. It sparked an endless discussion about things like if finishing first at Heps in track and field made the winning team 7-0, and it was mostly related to the career records of coaches, where some were listed as 0-0 and others were listed as 1,000-500.

Looking back, dinner with Dr. Lecter doesn't seem that bad.

Anyway, Princeton's overall record for the year was 375-221-10, for a .627 winning percentage. This is all sports, all games, not just Ivy games.

Interestingly, there were exactly 303 men's games and 303 women's games.

The men were 161-135-7. That's a .543 winning percentage.

The women?

Princeton's women went 214-86-3 for the year. That's a winning percentage of .711.

In other words, Princeton's women won 71.1% of the games played this past year.

That, TB thinks, is an extraordinary number. He's not going to look every team in the country, but he wonders if any school can beat that. If he had to guess, he'd pick North Carolina, but he's not going to look up every women's team there.

Anyway, the 71.1% figure is amazing. That's a win in significantly more than two-thirds of each women's game Princeton played last year.

Princeton had huge years in fencing, field hockey, basketball, squash, open rowing and soccer on the women's side. Added together, and it was a wild year for Princeton's women.

And so 71.1 is the number of the day.

Runner up is the number one. That would be where Hannibal Lecter ranked on the AFI's Top 100 movie villains of all-time.

The No. 1 villain. But in a nice, charming way.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Roman Holiday

So let's get back to the air conditioner in TigerBlog's car.

It wasn't working, so TB took it in to get fixed. He was presented with two options: 1) the cheap one that may or may not work or 2) the one that will definitely fix it but would be several hundred dollars.

TB's experience in such situations - car, appliance, anything - is that 1) TB always choose the first option and then 2) has to go back for the second option.

And that's exactly what happened this time.

TB found out the hard way that the $100 solution wasn't going to cut it, when he was driving to Long Island Friday and the AC conked out again.

You know what's fun? Being in traffic on Staten Island and then on the Belt Parkway on a 90-degree day with no air conditioning. And then having to drive back again yesterday, when it was even hotter.

Yeah, it was a lot of yucks. So, now it's back to the car place for Option No. 2.

Of course, all of this comes with exactly one payment left on the car, which begs the question of keeping the car - which also needs new tires - or trading it in while it still has value. It'd be nice to have a new car; on the other hand, it'd be great to not have a car payment for awhile.

Dilemmas, dilemmas.

Meanwhile, when TB eventually did get to Long Island, he stayed at the house of his ultra-hospitable friends Jon and Mindy Roman.

The Romans have three daughters - Zoe, who will be in eighth grade this coming school year and who is away at camp, Carly, who just finished her freshman year at Penn (which is where TB and Mindy became friends) and Amanda, a member of the Princeton Class of 2013.

They also have a very affectionate little cockapoo named Jack, who, like most dogs, will go after any socks he can find but unlike most dogs, TB assumes, he will only play with them in pairs. If you put your socks on the floor, Jack will get both of them together, not one individually. TB doesn't quite get how a dog can think it through that far, but hey, Jack pulls it off.

Because Zoe was at camp and Carly was at the Jersey Shore for the weekend, TB and TigerBlog Jr. (who was also there) each had their own room. TB was in Zoe's room, which features life-sized pictures of Zoe from her recent bat mitzvah. As Amanda and TBJ pointed out, Zoe's eyes appears to follow you wherever you go.

The first thing TB noticed when he walked into the house were the two items in frames on the floor near the front door. Both were waiting to hung on the wall.

The first was Amanda's diploma from Princeton. The second was a picture of Amanda, the one given to her on women's basketball senior night.

Amanda was the manager for the women's basketball team for the last four years, which gave her a front-row seat for the best four-year stretch in Ivy League women's basketball history. In her picture, she is holding a water bottle in one hand and flashing a peace sign to the photographer with the other.

Amanda was a four-year varsity basketball player in high school, but she wasn't going to be able to play in college. When she as admitted to Princeton, TB spoke to the women's basketball coaching staff about adding her to their program as a manager.

At the time, the coaches were mildly interested. They could use a manager (they'd end up with two, Amanda and Jordyn Seni), but managers weren't the highest priority.

Nope. It was continuing the turnaround of the women's basketball fortunes.

Princeton went 7-23 in Courtney Banghart's first year and then 14-14 in her second. Then Amanda showed up.

Oh, along with Niveen Rasheed, Lauren Polansky, Kate Miller and Meg Bowen. To join returning sophs Devona Allgood, Lauren Edwards and Laura Johnson.

The Tigers went 26-3 Amanda's freshman year and reached the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history. Princeton then went 24-5, 24-5 and 22-7 in her final three years. The four-year Ivy record was 54-2, and Princeton went to four NCAA tournaments after winning four outright Ivy titles.

No other class in Ivy women's basketball history has ever matched the four Ivy titles/four NCAA tournaments accomplishment of the Princeton women's Class of 2013. In fact, only one men's class (Princeton's 1992 class) did the same, at least since freshmen became eligible in the mid-1970s.

And Amanda - who will begin her job at the NFL offices in Manhattan shortly - was right there for all of it.

The most visible of it was how she sat on the end of the bench on game nights and gave the players water during timeouts. In fact, her mother likes to tell the story about the time the Daily Princetonian asked Amanda to describe the Princeton women's basketball culture in three words, and her response was "very well hydrated."

She did a lot more than just give the players water. Her jobs were many with the women's basketball team, whose coaches and players trusted her implicitly and came to rely on what she and Jordyn did for them.

Her college experience as a manager took her around the county and even around the world, as she was part of the team's trip to Paris and Senegal.

It gave her great friendships, taught her time the same kinds of time management skills that the players had to develop, brought her personal growth and confidence - and a lifetime of amazing memories of her time at Princeton.

She even wrote a guest TigerBlog.

Her time at Princeton was defined largely by her role with the women's basketball team.

Defined in an extraordinary way.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Fifth Of July

TigerBlog would like to talk today about a pivotal issue in Princeton, Ivy League and national collegiate athletics.

It'll be pretty in depth, with some serious statistical analysis of some recent trends. It may get a little long and technical.

Oh, who is TB kidding.

It's the Friday after the Fourth of July. Hey, he's not even sure if today is a work day at Princeton.

Actually, it is.

Princeton takes off for six holidays during the year: the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day and Memorial Day.

TB has worked, by the way, on all of those holidays except for the Fourth of July. As Hyman Roth said, this is the business we've chosen.

Anyway, today could be the slowest work day of the year for Princeton Athletics. TB doubts Jadwin will be packed at all.

TB won't be there. He has to go to Long Island.

Suppose you had to go from Princeton to Long Island today and had to be there at 4. What time would you leave?

It's possible that the traffic could be so bad that TB should have left by now. Or, if TB leaves at, say, 11, it's possible he'll be there three hours early.

There are eight weeks until the first athletic event of 2013-14. The women's cross country team will run at the Lehigh Invitational on Aug. 31.

Between now and then, there will be a lot of summer camps at Princeton. It's the season for summer camps, which dominate the summer landscape at the University.

There will also be vacations. There's a vacation calendar each summer in the OAC, and each summer, there's something like two days or so when everyone is in the office.

There will also be time to plan for 2013-14. There is a website redesign coming. There is the launch of the Ivy League digital network.

There will be some new faces in the athletic department, especially now that Erin McDermott is leaving to be the AD at the University of Chicago. There's always turnover in the summer, has been every year.
Still, there's nothing really all that pressing today.

It's just a quiet, hot day in early July. And not just any day in early July. It's the day after the Fourth of July, and a Friday no less.

If the Fourth of July was on a Friday or Monday, then it clearly would be a three-day weekend. If it was on Wednesday, it splits the week up pretty nicely but doesn't turn it into a five-day weekend.

That leaves Tuesday and Thursday.

If it's a Tuesday, then most people would probably be in on Monday. If it's a Thursday?

Forget just Princeton Athletics.

TB wonders what percentage of people in the U.S. are working today. People who have regular work weeks, that is. Short of an actual holiday, there have to be fewer people working today than any other day, with perhaps the exception of the Friday after Thanksgiving and maybe between Christmas and New Year's.

So there's no in-depth look at issues in Princeton Athletics or any other kind today.

Nope, today is pretty slow.

So TB hopes everyone had a great Fourth and that you're among what he suspects is the majority of those who have the day off.

Have a great weekend.

Be back Monday. For now, it's off to Long Island.