Friday, August 23, 2013

Nice Guy

Remember back in May when TigerBlog said he was losing weight?

Well, now it's three months later, and he's still going strong.

He started out just short of 240 pounds. These days, he's under 210.

For all of the magical formulas out there about weight loss, the reality is that it's simply about better diet and more exercise. While it might not be fun, that's just how it works.

At least in TB's case.

Sadly, it's been a lonely five months or so without an M&M. Or ice cream. His birthday, and those of both of his kids, have come and gone without so much as a nibble on a cake.

There's a candy dish on the desk of a co-worker, the one whose desk is closest to TB's, that is currently filled with mini Kit Kat bars, Hershey's miniatures and those little Dove bar milk chocolate eggs. Not that long ago, TB would have polished off the entire jar.

These days? Nothing. TB's own desk has two bananas on it.

TigerBlog looked out at the dessert table last night at Bob Surace's house and made a heavy sigh. There were donuts, cookies, cakes, giant orange and black Oreos.

And TB had none of it.

When TB goes out to eat these days, he likes to compare what he actually orders with what he would have ordered a year ago. Hey, there's a reason he was sniffing 240 not that long ago.

The occasion last night was Surace's annual pre-beginning-of-practice barbeque. Surace, if you don't know, is the head football coach at Princeton.

He has this event each year at his house, and each year it seems that it pours either before or during. This year, it was before, and the skies had cleared fully about an hour before it started.

There was almost as much water on his lawn as in the pool, but that didn't stop the fun.

TB told a few people who work at other schools that he was going to the BBQ at the head football coach's house, and they were a bit jealous that they didn't have that same kind of dynamic.

In truth it just speaks volumes about the kind of people Surace and his wife Lisa (a former Princeton women's soccer player who has a Ph.D. in psychology and who is the Lower School Head at Princeton Day School) are. They're just nice, friendly people, and they opened their house up to co-workers and friends before the serious business of another football season begins.

TigerBlog has seen enough big-time coaches to know that they are a lot like politicians. They can be the friendliest people in the world when they need to be or when it suits them, but it's usually phony.

TB will never forget the time that Princeton played basketball at a Big 10 school and then had travel issues getting home. The opposing head coach was at a post-game reception that also included Princeton's coaches, and the head of his booster group came up to the coach with Pete Carril and Bill Carmody by his side.

Very nicely, the booster guy asked the coach if it would be okay if he allowed Princeton to use their vans to get to an airport, and the coach said almost word-for-word "Do you know who this is? This is Coach Carril. You get him whatever he needs."

Then, about a half-hour later, TB was standing next to the booster guy when the coach came over and said this almost word-for-word: "I don't care how they get out here. How many times do I have to tell you not to bother me with this stuff?" Except every other word was a bad one. The f-dash-dash-dash one, as Ralphie said in "A Christmas Story."

What does this have to do with Surace?

He's the most down-to-Earth guy you'll ever meet. When TB, TigerBlog Jr. and Miss TigerBlog arrived at his house, he was the first one to greet them, and he asked both of them questions about their summer, when school starts, how they were doing.

Then he repeated this with everyone who was at his house.

He's just genuine, that's all. He makes it so easy to root for him.

The desserts followed dinner, a buffet with pulled pork, chicken, cheesesteaks, pasta with broccoli, corn on the cob, salad, hot dogs and probably a few other things TB can't remember.

It was just a nice, calm evening, one that is now followed by a highly stressful, highly intense three months of Princeton football. Practice starts next week.

Then it'll be 10 games in 10 weeks. It's an exciting time for the Tigers, who turned the corner from 1-9 and 1-9 to go 5-5 a year ago.

This year and beyond? Who knows. TB is optimistic.

After all, the head coach is very competitive.

It's just that Bob Surace shows that you can be that without having to be a jerk.

So root for him. If you've never met him, take TB's word. It's easy to do.

And if you have, you know what TB means.


Anonymous said...

Here's something to keep in mind about Surace:

With less than twelve minutes remaining against Harvard, Michelsen completed a short pass to Nelson, making the score 34-16. The Tigers lined up for a two-point conversion and I turned to the guy sitting next to me, saying with a smile, "Get a load of this. Our coach thinks we're going to score three touchdowns and three two-point conversions to tie this game!"

It didn't turn out exactly like that but the point is that, down 24 with less than twelve minutes left, Surace was still thinking about how to win the game. He still believed when there was precious little reason to do so.

Surace probably did not know that, with less than twelve minutes to go, 24 points would be the second greatest comeback in the history of college football. Nevertheless, he was still planning to win.

But, please, lose the orange helmets.

Anonymous said...

Your article is why my son chose Princeton over Harvard and Penn, Surace!