Wednesday, September 30, 2015


If you go to Wikipedia's entry for Wyomissing, Pa., you'll see that there are nine listings under "notable people."

One of them is Ross Tucker, Princeton Class of 2001. He recently tweeted a picture of himself with one of the other eight.

TigerBlog will get back to that.

Ross Tucker figured his NFL experience would be a quick one, if it happened at all. 

Back when Tucker was a senior offensive lineman at Princeton, TigerBlog wrote a story about him for the football game program. Tucker, who was about 6-4, 300-pounds, said he was hoping to get a shot at an NFL training camp, if for no other reason than to see if they'd let him keep the helmet when he got cut.

As it turned out, he ended up with a fairly long NFL career, playing for five teams during a seven-year run. Perhaps the most notable moment of that time came when he was on the field for the Dallas Cowboys on the run where Emmitt Smith set the NFL career rushing yardage record.

Tucker has gone on from being an obscure NFL offensive lineman to become a highly successful member of the football media. Hey, he even has 140,000 Twitter followers.

This does not surprise TigerBlog. He met Tucker when he was a freshman, and there was something about him - a lot of personality - that made him stand out from Day 1.

Tucker is basically everywhere these days. He does NFL games on Westwood One radio, and he has his shows on Sirius radio and NBC Sports. And a podcast. And Twitter.

Oh, and the other Wyomissing native in that picture he tweeted?

Yeah, remember how TigerBlog said Tucker has 140,000 followers? Well, that means that he and the other native of his hometown average slightly more than 32 million followers each.

The other Wyomissing native is Taylor Swift. And there was Tucker, tweeting a picture of the two of them, apparently backstage at one of Swift's concerts.

Taylor Swift, by the way, has 64.1 million Twitter followers. On the other hand, she follows just 240 people.

Swift's Twitter followers rank her fourth in the world, trailing only Katy Perry, Justin Bieber and President Obama, who is the only non-entertainer in the top 12. TigerBlog can't help but think that there is a statement about how the world works these days in there somewhere.

Your trivia question today is this: The person who is No. 13 on the list would be the professional athlete with the most Twitter followers in the world. Can you name that person?

All of this gets TigerBlog wondering what it would have been like to have had Twitter throughout history. TB follows 96 people on Twitter, only a handful of whom are entertainers, none of whom are in the top 100.

For that matter, Bruce Springsteen has fewer than 800,000 followers, while Pit Bull has more than 12,000,000. Again, there's a statement on contemporary society there too.

Anyway, TigerBlog probably would have followed Frank Sinatra. And Steve McQueen. And James Garner. And Dean Martin.

Oh, and the answer to the question of the sports figure in the world with the most Twitter followers? It's soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo, with his 38 million followers. If you want an American athlete, you have to go to No. 29 on the list, and that would be LeBron James, who only has 24 million.

TigerBlog is pretty sure that Courtney Banghart has more followers than any other Princeton coach. Courtney, the women's basketball coach, has 2,727 followers.

John Sadak has more than 1,200 followers.

Perhaps you remember Sadak as a former Princeton men's basketball radio play-by-play man. Tom McCarthy, another former Tiger voice, has 12,500 followers as the TV voice of the Philadelphia Phillies.

TigerBlog hasn't checked yet (you'll have to take his word for this) on the number of Twitter followers that current Princeton men's basketball announcer Derek Jones has. TB is guessing 800.

And now he's checked, and the answer is 531. TigerBlog is one of those 531, and Derek is among TB's favorite tweeters.

Another TB favorite is Manish Mehta, who used to work here in the Office of Athletic Communications and now is the Jets' writer for the New York Daily News. He has 58,000 followers. 

Anyway, Sadak is also doing games on Westwood One these days. He will be teaming up with Ross Tucker this Sunday to do the Giants-Bills game in Buffalo.

That's two guys who've come a long way, right? Two guys who obviously have very, very strong Princeton connections.

TigerBlog doesn't tweet much other than the link to the blog each day and some men's lacrosse updates. If he tweeted more, he'd probably have more than the measly 124 followers he has.

Twitter has done a lot to change how the world communicates. It's easier to sum up your thoughts in 140 characters than in 3,000 words, and of course it plays to the lack of attention span that exists these days.

And it makes you feel connected to the people you follow, even if you're not. But hey, if it makes those 12,000,000 people feel like their buddies with Pit Bull, who is TigerBlog to doubt them.

But hey, don't judge people by their number of Twitter followers. TigerBlog would hate to feel inadequate.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Pitching With A Heavy Heart

If you're a Princeton Athletics fan and have been for as long as TigerBlog, then you have your all-time favorite athletes.

Of course, your list may vary from someone else's, and that person's could be completely different from the next. That's just how it works in sports.

In TigerBlog's nearly 30 years of watching Princeton teams from the inside, he's put together his own list of favorites. Not that he'd want to share it, because he'd be too afraid of leaving someone out.

There are some athletes who would be common to most lists. TB is pretty sure of that.

He's talking about on all kinds of levels here. As an athlete. As a teammate. By the effort he or she gave night after night. What their personality is.

Pete Carril used to say that it's impossible to separate the player from the person. TigerBlog agrees with the coach here.

That's how he knows that even fans who never had a chance to meet some of their favorites can form a pretty good judgement on what they're like as people. Hey, TB has been able to do that with professional athletes, and he's pretty sure he's done so fairly accurately.

If you asked TigerBlog who the most universally popular, most well-liked Princeton athlete of the last 25 or so years is, he wouldn't have to think about it long to come up with his answer.

Actually, maybe he should think about it for a minute, so he doesn't overlook someone more obvious than the one who pops into his head immediately.

Hmmm. No. There may be someone who is on the same level, but there can't be anyone who, well, stands taller.

The answer is Chris Young.

About the worst thing that any Princeton fan can say about Chris Young is that they didn't get to see him play enough.

Chris Young came to Princeton from Highland Park High School in Dallas back in 1999. He stands 6-10, and he was dominant in basketball and baseball for two years each at Princeton.

Unfortunately for Princeton fans, Young was born on the final week of May. Had he been born after June 1, he wouldn't have been eligible for the Major League Baseball draft after his sophomore year, but instead he was.

Then he was chosen by the Pittsburgh Pirates, and when he signed a pro contract, that ended his Ivy League eligibility in both sports.

Had he not missed out his last two seasons of basketball, he would be the No. 2 scorer in program history, probably over 2,000 points, as well as one of the all-time leaders in rebounds. And he probably would have blocked more shots than the next three players in program history combined.

He played with a combination of grace and power, and at all times with humility. He was the perfect teammate.

And a total crowd favorite.

Had he chosen basketball over baseball, he'd probably still be in the NBA right now. As it is, he's in his 11th season pitching in the Major Leagues, now headed to the postseason with the Kansas City Royals. This is his fifth Major League stop, after also pitching for the Rangers, Padres, Mets and Mariners.

He has a 76-58 career record, with 205 career starts and a 3.65 career ERA.

Now, at the age of 36, he is having an outstanding season for the Royals, who have run away and hid in the American League Central. Young is 11-6 with a 3.15 ERA, and he has made 17 starts and 16 relief appearances.

His most recent start was Sunday against the Indians, when Young threw five no-hit innings. Not just shut-out inning. No-hit innings.

And he did this on the day after his father Charles passed away.

TigerBlog met Charles Young more than once. He remembers having some pretty nice conversations with him back when Chris Young was a Princeton basketball player.

It couldn't have been easy for the son to take the ball Sunday. But he did it anyway.

Perhaps he felt that it was a way to honor his father. TigerBlog doesn't feel comfortable speculating on such a personal issue.

TigerBlog would like to send his condolences to Chris Young and his family.

There have been very few athletes in school history - and certainly since TigerBlog has been watching - who better represented everything that's good about playing a sport at Princeton. That's why so many Princeton fans locked onto Chris Young from Day 1.

He is a class act in every possible way.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Home Opener

Okay, that's much better.

Readership numbers rebounded nicely on Friday. TigerBlog hopes he doesn't have to scold anyone again, like he did Friday, after Wednesday and Thursday numbers were down.

So that's that.

Speaking of numbers, TigerBlog isn't sure how many people went to see the Pope yesterday in Philadelphia. At first he heard it would be two million, and then a million. Eventually, the number was in the hundreds of thousands.

It was still a huge throng on the Ben Franklin Parkway. That's the street that Rocky ran on before he ran up the steps of the Art Museum, for those who've never been to Philly.

The signs that give traffic - and missing children - reports on the highways around here for the last few weeks flashed warnings of what the Pope's visit was going to do to the traffic. The Ben Franklin Bridge was closed (it doesn't go anywhere near the Ben Franklin Parkway, by the way). So were parts of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

All of Center City Philadelphia was turned into a maximum security zone. Driving into town was completely impossible.

With all of that, TigerBlog thought the residual backups would affect the area from Bucks County through Princeton, his primary driving areas. Instead, there was none.

TigerBlog Jr.'s friend Matthew got a job parking cars at a train station just outside Philadelphia for the Pope's visit. He had to be there at 3 a.m. Saturday morning, and he was there. Then nobody showed up. He parked maybe five cars in eight hours.

For all that, having Pope Francis in Philadelphia was a huge event for the city, regardless of your religion. And, while some think the security was way over the top, it would have been unforgivable for Philadelphia if something had happened to him while he was here.

TigerBlog has experienced over-the-top Papal traffic in his life. That was back in 1995, when John Paul II was in New York City and TigerBlog had to get to Brown for a football game. It took seven hours.

Why? Because the Pope's helicopter shut down the highway in New York that TigerBlog was on that Friday afternoon. TB didn't realize it was the Pope at first. He thought it was a medevac situation. Instead, it turned out to be the Pope.

This area had all kinds of games and other events changed because of the Pope's visit. One of those was Thursday night's football game between Penn and Villanova.

The Quakers thumped Villanova, who had come into the game ranked fourth nationally. It was a great performance for a Penn team that struggled the last few years and which had been owned by Villanova in the series.

It left TigerBlog wondering what to expect of Princeton's home opener against Lehigh Saturday night. After all, Lehigh had beaten Penn 42-21 a week earlier. 

Where did that leave all of these teams?

Well, connecting the dots, Princeton has doubled up Lehigh, who doubled up Penn, who somewhat comfortably defeated Villanova, who had been ranked fourth in the country.

Princeton's 52-26 win over Lehigh was very impressive. It didn't take long for TigerBlog's favorite play, which is the one where the starting quarterback hands off to the No. 3 quarterback, who throws a pass to the No. 2 quarterback.

Actually, it took even less time for Princeton to impress TB. The Tigers did that right from the opening kickoff, which led to an eight-play, 75-yard touchdown march, for the first of seven touchdowns the Tigers would score on the night.

Coupled with Princeton's 40-7 win over Lafayette on opening night, Princeton has now scored more points in its first two games that it has in any year since 1950. That's a long time ago.

Princeton had incredible balance against Lehigh, with 235 yards passing and 244 yards rushing. Princeton has a bunch of weapons, starting with quarterback Chad Kanoff, running backs DiAndre Atwater, Dre Nelson and Joe Rhattigan and the do-everything John Lovett.

Kanoff, after two collegiate starts, certainly looks like the real deal. Atwater, Rhattigan and Nelson are all different kinds of backs, but they came after Lehigh in waves, leading to the 244-yard night, which followed the 308 rushing yards against Lafayette, which combine to have Princeton as the No. 5 rushing team in the FCS.

As for Lovett, his contribution to the running game was a mere 11.8 yards per carry on his five carries, which went for 59 yards. He was also Princeton's leading receiver in the game with 71 yards, tying for the team lead with four receptions. And he's technically a quarterback.

The offense through two games certainly looks like the one from two years ago, when Princeton won the Ivy League title. The defensive numbers weren't great against Lehigh, with 561 total yards, but the Tigers came up with the stops when they needed. And add to that R.J. Paige's 36-yard interception return and a monstrous game from Dorian Williams, who had 12 tackles, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

So what have we learned about the Ivy League after two weeks?

Well, Dartmouth looks great. So does Harvard. Yale doesn't look as great, but the Bulldogs got a huge comeback win over Cornell.

And Penn? Who knows. Are the Quakers the team that lost to Lehigh or beat Villanova?

And where does Princeton fit in? It's too soon to say.

As TigerBlog watched the game, he thought ahead a few weeks, when Princeton finishes with Harvard, Cornell, Penn, Yale and Dartmouth in the second half of the year. The game he was watching at the time will be an afterthought by then.

Still, it's had been nearly 10 years since Princeton got to 2-0, and Lehigh is always a good team. Next up is Columbia in the Ivy opener Friday night and then Colgate and Brown before that five-week gauntlet.

The home opener was a good party. It had a nice crowd, with a lot of students. It had the first real hints of the coming autumn weather.

It ended with a great fireworks show.

And it included a great performance by the home team. What more can anyone have asked, at least in September.

October and November? They won't be easy.

Through two weeks, though, Princeton fans can be excused for thinking their team will be a tough out in the Ivy League race.

Friday, September 25, 2015


Hey, where did everyone go?

For some mysterious, unknown and hopefully short-lived reason, TigerBlog readership has plummeted the last two days. Must be some strange internet disruption that TB simply missed.

What else can explain it? Numbers were very strong for most of the last few weeks, and the summer numbers set records for TigerBlog's seven-year history. That's TigerBlog the blog, not TigerBlog the person, who has been around slightly longer than seven years.

So what's up people? You think TigerBlog does this for his health?

Get back on board.

TigerBlog, on a daily basis, gets more readers than any story on TB appreciates the loyalty. Just don't make him have to scold you again.

To escape from this momentary blip, TigerBlog offers a little fun to start off today.

Fun, as in "Who's The Tiger?"

What is "Who's The Tiger?" It's sort of the toy department of the "Achieve, Serve, Lead" video series.

It's meant to be fun. And funny.

These videos are modeled on the SportsCenter commercials that have been so successful through the years. TigerBlog is guessing that Princeton Athletics is doing it on a slightly smaller budget than ESPN though.

In fact, the series is basically written, produced, filmed, dreamed up, laughed about, edited and all the rest by TigerBlog and John Bullis, Princeton's video dude.

The creative sessions go something like this: Hey, you know what would be cool? Yeah, that does sound funny. Okay.

The first one, which launches today on, features seven Princeton athletes in a library setting, studying and doing homework - in full uniforms. And, as you can see, at the far end of the table sits the Princeton Tiger.

For the record, your co-stars alongside the Tiger are football player DiAndre Atwater, men's basketball player Spencer Weisz, women's hockey player Kelsey Koelzer, field hockey player Cat Caro, women's lacrosse player Annie Woehling and wrestler Chris Perez.

The series will build to the last one, later this fall, when the identity of the Tiger is revealed. In the meantime, keep an eye out for them, and have fun with them.

The first one will be shown on the videoboard during the Princeton-Lehigh football game Saturday evening, but that's not the only reason to go to Princeton Stadium.

The day starts with Community and Staff Day, which begins at 3:30. It ends about five minutes after the football game, when the fireworks show begins.

That's a pretty good day.

In between, there's the football game.

Lehigh is 2-1, with wins over Central Connecticut and Penn and a loss to James Madison. Princeton is 1-0, with a 40-7 win over Lafayette in its opener a week ago.

Do you know how many times in the last 20 years Princeton has been 2-0? That would be three times, all in a row, in 2004, 2005 and 2006.

Lehigh is 6-1 all-time on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium and is 12-3 in the last 15 meetings between the teams.

Princeton put up 573 yards of offense against Lafayette, rushing for more than 300. It was still the same Princeton offense, with three quarterbacks, including two (Kedric Bostic, John Lovett) who caught passes. Chad Kanoff was 20 for 31 for 256 yards and a TD.

In addition, Atwater showed he can do more than act in a "Who's the Tiger?" video, rushing for 93 yards on 14 carries, or 6.6 per rush. Dre Nelson went for 117 on just eight carries, or 14.5 per rush.

Princeton Stadium looks great under the lights. This is the first of two chances this season - twice in six days actually - to see a game with the lights on there.

The home opener. Fireworks. An exciting Princeton team. Community and Staff Day. The "Who's The Tiger" video on the board.

What more do you want?

Oh, and hey, let's get those blog numbers back where they belong.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Happy Birthday

TigerBlog's people atoned for their sins with a 24-hour fast yesterday.

Or at least in theory that's how it was supposed to go. FatherBlog? His take on it was a little different.

"I'll fast between meals," he told TB Monday.

TigerBlog isn't sure if his father was trying to be funny or that was his actual plan for Yom Kippur. He'd go with the latter if he had to guess.

For TigerBlog, a once-a-year 24-hour fast to atone for his sins is fairly normal. Yeah, he gets hungry. He gets a headache. Eventually the clock strikes 24 and he can eat again.

Explaining this to people who are not Jewish, though, is always met with horror, as if going 24 hours without eating - or drinking - anything is torture of the highest variety.

With sundown last night, the Jewish High Holidays were over for 2015, or 5776, if you're using the Hebrew calendar.

This appears to be a rare year, by the way, when the High Holidays came neither early nor late. As TB has said before, that seems to be how it works, as in "the holidays are so early this year."

And now that they're over, TigerBlog can look ahead to two different upcoming days, not quite holidays, and certainly not on the level of the High Holidays.

But big days nonetheless. At least to the two men whose days they are.

TigerBlog has always known when his father's birthday is, and he's always known when Ford Family Director of Athletics emeritus Gary Walters' birthday is. He just never put the two together until a few days ago, when he realized his father is 10 years and two days older than his boss of 20 years.

Within the next few days, FatherBlog will turn 80 and Gary will turn 70.

TigerBlog has always seen some real similarities between the two men.

They both came from humble beginnings, Gary from a blue collar background in Reading, FatherBlog from Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn. As TigerBlog has written about Gary before: "Princeton is a place of privilege and in many cases old money. Gary Walters comes from neither."

FatherBlog? That wasn't part of his background either.

From their humble beginnings, they both made a lot of themselves in this world, through their own hard work and desire. It's a quality that used to be the defining theme of this country, by the way.

There are other similarities as well.

There have been a lot of times through the years when Gary has said something to TigerBlog and he thought that it could have come from his father.

They've both been shirt-and-tie guys in an increasingly casual world. They're both actually look somewhat younger than they are. You wouldn't think Gary is going to be 70 or FatherBlog is going to be 80. They both are very, very, very social people, both comfortable around large groups, both loving to be the life of whatever party they happen to be at at that moment.

There are big differences too. For instance, Gary is a Cape Cod guy, while FB is a travel-the-world guy.

The biggest, of course, is their educational background.

FatherBlog attended Hunter College in New York City very, very briefly. He's joked about having to take the subway from Brooklyn into Manhattan for school and eating the lunch his mother made for him before he ever got off the train.

He left Hunter long before he'd ever earned a degree and has not been back to college since. Instead, he went down his path bouncing around a few jobs that went nowhere, to a two-year stint in the Army and finally, 55 years ago, to the insurance business.

Today, as he approaches 80, he still puts on a jacket and tie each day and heads to his office in midtown Manhattan. He still works essentially full-time. He shows no sign of ever wanting to give it up. He has no hobbies other than working, for one thing, other than perhaps his world travels, his card games and his love for eating.

Gary is a graduate of Princeton University, a member of the Class of 1967. He is a Princetonian through and through, having played here, coached here and been the AD here.

Maybe the only reason that Gary had that experience is because he was an exceptional basketball player, while FatherBlog's best sport was handball in Brooklyn. It was basketball that brought Gary to Princeton in the first place.

Of any time TigerBlog has ever heard Gary speak, his favorite moment was the one on the day he announced to the Department of Athletics that he was entering his final year as its head. He was speaking in Dillon Gym, in early September.

He mentioned that it was almost exactly 50 years and 50 yards from where his father had first dropped him off at Princeton, back in 1963, when Gary experienced a culture shock, one that left him unsure if he'd come to a place where he'd fit in.

Eventually, it became clear that he would do more than fit in. Through the years, he would first be an athlete on one of the best teams the University has ever fielded in any sport and ultimately as strong an advocate for Princeton's athletes as has ever walked on this campus.

It's a pretty good legacy to have.

Now he's turning 70. Now FatherBlog is turning 80.

Both men have mellowed a bit through the years, but not much - FatherBlog will be in the city today to go to work, and Gary will be happy to seize any opportunity to continue his crusade in favor of Princeton's approach to intercollegiate athletics and the role that it plays in the undergraduate and post-graduate educations of those who participate.

TigerBlog hasn't always seen eye to eye with both. He's had more than his share of disagreements through the years.

Now, though, as he writes about the two men, he's not thinking about those moments. He's thinking about two men whose lives have probably exceeded what they thought they would achieve when they were little, or maybe they always knew they would make something of themselves.

He's thinking about two men who were handed very little in this world, two men who have touched a lot of lives, two men who have made a lot of people laugh, two men who have laughed a lot themselves.

Two good men.

Happy birthday to both.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Bob And Warren

It was a pretty good weekend on Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium.

The Princeton men and women both won 2-1, both against really, good teams, both on late goals - the men with three minutes to go to beat Boston University, the women in overtime to beat William & Mary.

Actually, TigerBlog called the men's game-winning goal long before it happened.

A day before, TB and his colleagues John Bullis and Cody Chrusciel were filming a video for the "Achieve, Serve, Lead" series with Josh Miller, the captain of the men's team. The interview with Miller was the last piece needed for the video, and once it was dropped in, the video was done.

With the score 1-1 deep into the second half, TigerBlog told Bullis that Miller was going to score the game-winner and that Chrusciel, who was on the sideline with his camera, would get a good shot of it. And Bullis, being the way he is, would want to include the footage in the video that was already completed.

Sure enough, in the 87th minute, Miller knocked in a shot off a corner kick, and Princeton had itself a big non-league win.

And sure enough, Bullis put the football into his video.

That video is not the one that was put up yesterday, by the way. That's the first one in the series, an "Achieve" video. There will be several more videos to follow throughout the fall.

If you missed the first video, you can check it out HERE.

As for the women's game, Princeton led 1-0 most of the second half after a Tyler Lussi goal, before William & Mary tied it to force the overtime. Then, early on, Mimi Asom won it for Princeton.

Lussi, by the way, leads Princeton with six goals, while Asom is second with four. They were both honored by the Ivy League and Top Drawer Soccer.

Lussi, a junior, has 34 career goals, which puts her fifth all-time in program history. The record is held by Esmeralda Negron, who had 47. Linda DeBoer had 41, Emily Behncke had 39 and Jen Hoy had 36. That's pretty elite company already.

The games last weekend were played on picture-perfect days at a picture-perfect facility. There were good crowds both days, and you can't beat seeing a game at Roberts Stadium. It's designed perfectly for fan experience.

TigerBlog walked around the concourse at one point and ran into all kinds of familiar people. As he turned the corner and headed past the concession stands, he saw Kristen Callahan.

Kristen gave TB a hug. He asked her how she was doing, and she said good, but with a lot of moments, and that it was hard.

Who could blame her?

Kristen is the widow of Bob Callahan, the longtime men's squash at Princeton. Even now, more than seven months after Bob's death, it pains TigerBlog to have to write the word "widow."

Bob was just 59 when he died, after a fight against brain cancer, a fight that, like the man himself, was one of humor, grace, humility and courage.

It was nearly a year ago that TigerBlog spent his last meaningful time with Bob, back on Sept 30, 2014, when Bob and Kristen celebrated their 36th anniversary. For Kristen, it meant having to go back to her teaching job at Mercer County College. For Bob, it meant hanging out with various Princeton athletic department staff members while Kristen was away.

TigerBlog went to see him first. As he thinks about it now, he's glad that the last time he spent with Bob was when Bob was still on his game, equal parts smart, funny, kind, loyal, warm - basically every good quality one man could have.

In talking to Kristen at the soccer game Saturday, it all came rushing back to TigerBlog, all the things he loved about Bob Callahan. The tragedy that was having such a great person cut down at the age of 59 also came back to him, but TigerBlog tried to block that out and only focus on the good.

It's not easy though. TigerBlog half expects Bob to come walking into his office again, with his white 1970s tennis shorts and a windbreaker, asking TB how many days are left until lacrosse starts. That was always his first question. Sadly, he never will. Having it happen in TigerBlog's mind will have to do.

After TigerBlog left Kristen and began to walk back to the press box at Roberts, he checked his  phone to find he'd received an email from Warren Kimber, or at least he thought so. Instead, it turned out to be from Warren Kimber's daughter on Warren Kimber's email address. She'd sent out a group email to all of his contacts, explaining that her father had passed away.

TigerBlog was stung by the news.

Warren was the supervisor of officials for men's lacrosse. He'd be a frequent visitor to Princeton games, and TigerBlog had gotten to know him there and at the NCAA championships.

He was a lot like Bob Callahan. He was just a nice guy, a warm, friendly guy, someone who saw the best in people, someone who always had something nice to say, someone who asked how you were doing and seemed to genuinely care.

And now he too was gone. TigerBlog doesn't know how old Warren was, but his guess is he was around 70ish. It dawned on TB that he doesn't really know much about Warren's background, other than that he was a longtime lacrosse ref and then the supervisor of officials.

But he does know that he was a man who made TigerBlog's favorite sport better and that it was always good to see him. He had just retired too, and just like that, he's gone.

The sport of lacrosse will miss him. TigerBlog will miss him too.

Bob Callahan and Warren Kimber.

Two of the good guys.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Achieve, Serve, Lead

TigerBlog saw it coming.

The event that brought basically all of Princeton's 1,000 or so varsity athletes to Jadwin Gym last night was just ending, and that meant that the dinner portion of the evening was about to begin. The athletes were about to instructed as to which teams should get in line first, and TigerBlog could see from his vantage point 50 yards or so away that no announcement would be necessary.

Instead, it was a massive stampede to the buffet lines.

That's okay. They're college athletes. Princeton athletes. They're supposed to move quickly.

And they did.

They'd sat in the lower north stands of Jadwin for the last 45 minutes or so, listening to the inspirational words of a group of speakers that included Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux, Princeton Varsity Club chairman Frank Sowinski and even University president Christopher Eisgruber.

The occasion was the PVC's welcome barbecue. It's an event that at one point was just for freshmen. Then it was freshmen and sophomores. It might have been freshmen and seniors at one point.

Now it was for everyone.

This was the first time that the BBQ was for all of the athletes, which could make it the first time in all of the time that TigerBlog has been around Princeton Athletics - nearly 30 years worth - that he's seen that many of the athletes in the same place at the same time.

Other than freshman athlete orientation or the senior banquet, it's rare for an entire class to be together, let alone four classes. And yet there they were, on a Monday night in Jadwin.

As they filed in, most wore the gray "Princeton Varsity Club" t-shirts that were given out in the lobby. It made it next to impossible to tell one team from another, other than the men's lacrosse players whom TB knows, and the hockey players, who all wore their Princeton hockey shirts.

TB couldn't help but realize that there are a lot of Princeton athletes, most of whom he doesn't know. Hey, if you've ever been in Jadwin, picture the stands on the side opposite the benches completely packed. That's how it looked.

Mixed in with the short speeches were a series of videos that have been produced by the Department of Athletics' video creator John Bullis. The videos are under the "Achieve, Serve, Lead" theme, with small videos devoted to each area of the department's motto.

The first video was the "Achieve" video, which featured highlights from the 2014-15 athletic year. The "Serve" video features Princeton's athletes as they embark on various projects in the community, with several athletes who talk about what participation in those projects means to them.

The last one shown last night was the "Lead" video, which features five Princeton captains from last year and this year as they talk about what they've learned about leadership from their time at Princeton.

Bullis did a really good job on the videos. He's the first person who was hired by the Department of Athletics specifically to produce original video content and work directly with live streaming of games. The second, by the way, is Cody Chruschiel, who started last week after coming to Princeton from UMass.

Anyway, Bullis is an artist. He's a funny one. TigerBlog can't figure out if he's more like a big kid or a big dog, but there's something very endearing about him. How can someone who moonwalked into TigerBlog's office yesterday not be endearing? Oh, and he does a great job.

His videos are what the Department of Athletics had in mind when it first abandoned producing media guides. These videos are designed to take people inside Princeton Athletics, to show what the experience of the athletes is.

These videos will be coming to one at a time, beginning today and lasting throughout the fall. Hopefully you'll see what TB means.

In the meantime, the stampede to the buffet lines last night came and went. Shortly after that, the 1,000 athletes began to file out of Jadwin.

TigerBlog stood back and watched the scene. He saw teammates dancing to the music, others walking out arm in arm, still others limping out on crutches.

Princeton's athletic success through the years is easy to document.

This was a different side of it though, one that was harder to quantify. This was Princeton Athletics away from the field, away from competitive nature that is inherent in what they do. This was a bunch of friends relaxing on a Monday night at a BBQ.

As TigerBlog watched, he thought about the future. About reunions to come, for decades and decades, when these same groups of people will gather for future meals, future BBQs.

It made TigerBlog smile. And reminded him of what his job is really all about.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Weekend Kickoffs

TigerBlog saw a lot of three football games this weekend.

The first was Friday night, when he saw Miss TigerBlog's high school game. She had a field hockey game that ended at 6 or so, and she and three of her friends/teammates wanted to stay to watch the football game.

They asked three things of TigerBlog: 1) would he stay and drive them home, 2) he was not to come to eat with them across the street from the school and 3) he was under no circumstances to sit anywhere near them.

Having obliged them, TigerBlog then watched MTBHS score on five of its six first-half possessions with two passes and about 50 rushes. The final was 43-19.

On the way home, not one of the four girls knew the score, or much cared. Mostly they talked about Instagram, and something they can do on Snapchat that gives them a long, rainbow-colored tongue.

There really isn't much like a Friday night high school football game, Americana-wise at least. The bands. The cheerleaders. The teams as they run onto the field, breaking through the banner the cheerleaders made. It really was a beautiful sight.

The second game TB saw was the Princeton-Chestnut Hill sprint game, Saturday at Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School, which is about three miles from the Chestnut Hill campus and not that far from where MTB's game Saturday morning was.

This was the first sprint football game in CHC history. TigerBlog was there when Princeton played its first game against the other new teams - Mansfield, Post, Franklin Pierce - in the league, and he was in the neighborhood this time. Plus, TigerBlog Jr.'s best buddy Matthew is a freshman lacrosse player at CHC, and he and his family - and pretty much everyone associated with Chestnut Hill was there.

Princeton lost this one 48-13, and Chestnut Hill did have a solid edge in yards. The game got away from Princeton late in the first half, when, down 21-7 with the ball, Princeton was stopped at a fourth-and-one at the CHC 35. The Griffins then took it the other way in four plays, hitting a 58-yard touchdown pass with 25 seconds left.

Even after that, Princeton then came back with a 47-yard pass of its own, giving Princeton a first down at Chestnut Hill's 12 with seven seconds left. Two incomplete passes later it was halftime. Had it been 21-14 or even 28-14 at the break, maybe it's a different second half.

So yes, Princeton lost again. On the other hand, it was a giant part for Chestnut Hill and its students. There were t-shirts commemorating the occasion (TigerBlog got one), free food, a tailgate party - and football, for a campus that's never had it before.

And they loved it.

The other game TB saw a lot of was Alabama-Ole Miss.

He can sum this up rather quickly:
* he's glad Alabama lost
* No. 5 for Ole Miss seems to be pretty good
* he'd love to go to a game like that someday

The football game he didn't see was Princeton-Lafayette, the opener for the Tigers that ended up as a 40-7 victory. It was a great start to the season, obviously.

TigerBlog intended to go, but he ended up at the men's soccer team's win over Boston University instead.

He can tell you that he's looking forward to seeing Princeton against Lehigh in the home opener this Saturday, at 5. It's also part of Community and Staff Day, which begins at 3:30. And there are fireworks after the game.

Will there be fireworks during the game?

Remember the ridiculously explosive Princeton team from 2013, the one that averaged a program-record 511.6 yards per game? Well, Princeton went for 573 against Lafayette.

As for balance, Princeton averaged 217.8 rushing and 293.8 passing in 2013. Against Lafayette, those numbers were 308 on the ground and 265 through the air.

The 308 rushing yards included 116 (on just eight carries, which would be 14.5 per) from Dre Nelson and 93 on 14 carries from DiAndre Atwater. Chad Kanoff made his first career start, going 20 for 31 for 256 yards and a touchdown.

In addition to 2013-like numbers Saturday night, Princeton also replicated another part of that championship season - seven players had at least one carry and 10 caught at least one pass. Included in that group of 10 were two quarterbacks, Kedric Bostic and John Lovett, who also threw a touchdown pass on his only throw.

The opener was 0-0 at the end of the first quarter and 23-0 at the end of the half. And Lafayette was playing its third game, to Princeton's first. If you're into comparative scores, do what you will with this: Delaware defeated Lafayette 19-9.

So next up is Lehigh, the first of three straight at home, followed by the Ivy opener against Columbia and then Colgate. Can Princeton sustain the offensive explosion?

You know, will there be fireworks only after the game?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Kickoff Weekend

TigerBlog saw a neighbor yesterday and made the usual small talk.

He said hi. And he added that it was a beautiful day.

And it was. This is the month for the best weather of the year in this area, when it's not swelteringly hot or too rainy. Usually, the weather is in the 70s or 80s, with low humidity and bright blue skies.

It might have been a little warmer than usual yesterday, but the 10-day forecast - and probably the 30-day forecast - is nearly perfect.

So what did the neighbor say to TigerBlog?

"Yes, but it's supposed to be an awful winter."

Wow. That was harsh.

Maybe it will be. Maybe it won't. For now, it's beautiful. And it's supposed to be beautiful all weekend.

It's a busy weekend for Princeton Athletics, the first really full weekend of the 2015-16 academic year. Between now and Sunday there will be 20 events, with 10 different teams competing: women's soccer, men's soccer, field hockey, men's tennis, men's golf, women's golf, women's volleyball and men's water polo.

And, after all of the lead-up, all of the waiting, all of the practice, it's finally time to kick it off.

Twice, actually.

At noon and at six tomorrow, Princeton will have its first two football games. They both have fascinating storylines, and TigerBlog will get to them shortly.

First, of the 10 teams that play this weekend, four are at home.

The men's soccer team has its first home game, tomorrow at 4, against Boston University. The women's soccer team will be on Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium Sunday, against 23rd-ranked William & Mary.

The women's soccer game starts at 1 Sunday. An hour later, the field hockey team hosts American on Bedford Field. You should be able to see the end of both games, since they're separated by less than the length of the game fields they play on.

The other home event is the Ivy Plus men's tennis tournament, which starts today and runs through Sunday. Princeton will host 21 teams at the event - the other seven Ivy teams and Bucknell, Buffalo, Indiana, Miami (Fla.), Michigan, NJIT, Notre Dame, Old Dominion, Penn State, St. John's, Tennessee, Tulsa, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin.

And, like 33 of the 38 sports at Princeton, there is no admission charge for the events at Princeton this weekend.

So that leaves football and football.

Let's start with sprint football.

The Princeton sprint football team began play in the 1931 season with a weight limit that was reflected in the official name of the conference, the Eastern 150-Pound Football League. There were seven original members, with Princeton, Penn, Lafayette, Cornell, Rutgers, Villanova and Yale.

For a long time, there were five teams that played lightweight football, which eventually became sprint football in 1998 - Princeton, Penn, Cornell, Army and Navy. Then Mansfield added a team. And then Post. And then Franklin Pierce.

Now, the league is up to nine teams, with the addition of Chestnut Hill College, located outside of Philadelphia. And Princeton is Chestnut Hill's first-ever opponent, tomorrow at noon at Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School, which is near the CHC campus.

As any Princeton fan knows, the Tigers have struggled in sprint football. The Tigers have lost 101 consecutive league games, dating to 1999.

Each time Princeton has played one of the new teams, TigerBlog has been there, hoping that this would be the one that ends the streak. He's going to try to be at Plymouth-Whitemarsh tomorrow as well.

Then there's the football team.

Princeton opens its 2015 season at Lafayette, with kickoff at 6. By then, six of the seven other Ivy teams will be done and the seventh, Cornell, who kicks off at 3, might also be done. That will make Princeton the last Division I team to start its season.

The big story for Princeton this season is probably the quarterback position. Both Quinn Epperly and Connor Michelsen have graduated, after they combined for 7,783 career passing yards and 47 touchdowns. One or the other started each of the last 31 games for the Tigers.

Chad Kanoff appears ready to be the No. 1 quarterback, though at Princeton, there's really no such thing as a No. 1 quarterback. There are multiple quarterbacks, often on the same play, and this year Kanoff, Kedric Bostic and John Lovett all figure to play a lot.

All three, by the way, stand at least 6-3 and weigh in at least 220 pounds. And none of them are bigger than the man who figures to be the No. 1 target - wide receiver Seth DeValve, who only played two games a year ago due to injury. He does enter his senior year with 999 career receiving yards.

The entire lineup is dotted with familiar names. Princeton has been almost universally picked for fourth in the Ivy League, behind Harvard, Dartmouth and Yale - all of whom Princeton plays in the final five weeks of the season.

For now it's the game at Lafayette and then a home game against Lehigh. Then it's the Ivy opener against Columbia.

For Princeton, who has waited and watched basically every other football team anywhere play, it hardly matters who the opponent is.

It should be a perfect night in Easton - even if the coming winter is going to be bad. And it'll be interesting to see the Tigers play.

And that's your weekend in Princeton Athletics.

TigerBlog will report in Monday on how it all plays out.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Picture This

The Princeton football season starts in two days.

Too bad the play of the year has already happened. And so has the best picture of the year.

It'll be hard for anyone to beat Sam Huffman, who made a ridiculous one-handed, falling backwards interception in the end zone of the team's scrimmage, or Bill Corso, who took a great picture of it.

If you haven't seen the clip, it's the last one on THIS VIDEO.

If you haven't seen the picture, here it is:

This is a ridiculous picture, right?

Imagine if Huffman had made this play at the end of a big Ivy League game. It would instantly become part of Princeton legend.

It would be one of the greatest plays in Princeton football history.

It's certainly one of the best Princeton Athletics pictures TigerBlog has ever seen. It's not the best one.

This would be the best one:

Of course, this one has a lot of advantages to it.

One, it came in the NCAA basketball tournament. Two, it came at the end of one of the greatest first-round games ever played, Princeton's 43-41 win over UCLA.

Three, it tells the whole story in one picture.

The look on the face of Toby Bailey (the UCLA player) tells you not just that he lost. It tells you he's completely frustrated, that he cannot for the life of him figure out how his team lost.

Oh, and Bailey isn't just some player. He scored 26 points in the NCAA championship game a year, when UCLA won the national title. He would play in the NBA. And he just airballed a turnaround jump shot that would have tied it at the buzzer.

Then there are the two Princeton players. The one in the background is off to celebrate. The one in the foreground is captured in a split-second moment of glory and euphoria.

Oh, and they happen to be the two most recent Princeton head coaches, former coach Sydney Johnson and current coach Mitch Henderson.

You've probably seen the picture a million times. It always fascinates TigerBlog when he sees the replay itself just how little time Mitch spends in his jump.

From the video, it gives the sense of just how perfectly timed the picture is and how great a job the photographer did.

It's an Associated Press photo.

When TigerBlog got back from Indianapolis after the NCAA tournament that year, he reached out to the AP to see about getting a copy of the picture. Originally, he was told it would be $1,200 for a single usage.

TB's response? He could fly Mitch, Sydney and Bailey back to Indianapolis and recreate the picture for that much money.

Eventually he was able to talk the AP people down to the price he'd pay, which was $300, for unlimited internal use. It's among the best $300 of Princeton's money that he's spent.

Mitch emailed TigerBlog earlier this week with a great picture, one that seems almost Photoshopped.

Here it is:

Now this is also a ridiculous picture.

It's the New York Knicks at Jadwin Gym. And not just any Knicks. It's a team with the greatest Knicks ever - Willis Reed, Walt Frazier, Dave DeBusschere and of course Princeton's Bill Bradley. And head coach Red Holtzman.

Oh, and the great Milt Williams. This has to be the 1970-71 Knicks, which would be one year after winning the NBA title and two years before winning it again. The 1970-71 season was the only year Williams was on the team.

TigerBlog hasn't been able to figure out what this game was, but he assumes it's an exhibition game. He has never heard of the Knicks' playing a regular season game at Jadwin.

Here's the best picture that TigerBlog saw last year from Princeton Athletics:

This is Sam Bonafede, who was a freshman a year ago. He took 232 of Princeton's 392 face-offs in the 2015 season.

This game was played in the snow on Sherrerd Field. The game was the second of a doubleheader, one that began on a cloudy, cold day with a women's game against Loyola, one that featured snowflakes in the second half.

By the time the men's game started, the flakes had turned to a near-blizzard, and there was probably four inches of snow on the field by the time it ended.

The game left TigerBlog with great pictures, like the one with Bonafede. And a bunch of others.

The only problem is, what should TB do with them? It's not like he can use them all year long. They were great for a week, but after that, nobody wanted to see lacrosse in the snow pictures.

Oh well.

The best snow picture at Princeton that TigerBlog has seen was from the 1993 Princeton-Dartmouth football game. Unfortunately, he can't find it, except for on the cover of the 1995 football media guide.

It's a picture of David Patterson, one of TB's favorite Princeton athletes. Patterson was undersized for a linebacker, but he was dominant.

The 1993 Princeton-Dartmouth game started out in sunshine. By the end of the first quarter, it was snowing. By the middle of the second quarter, the field was covered in snow. By halftime, the snow stopped. By the end of the third quarter, the snow was gone.

The picture was tremendous. Patterson was covered in snow and and mud and dirt, like players were when they used to play on real dirt and grass. It's what's missing from FieldTurf.

TigerBlog saved it for two years to use on the cover of the media guide Patterson's senior year. It looked great. Too bad he can't find it.

So that's a few of the best pictures that TigerBlog has seen here.

What will be the greatest picture of 2016-17? That was in wide open.

The winner for 2015-16? That ones seems to be sewn up - even before the first kickoff.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Thoughts On A Gay Tiger

If you weren't paying attention to yesterday, you missed the link to an incredibly well-done story about Princeton offensive tackle Mason Darrow, in the publication

Darrow recently came out as gay to his teammates and his coaches, and the story was about how they've accepted him, as well as how he has felt about the situation. It's a story that makes Princeton head coach Bob Surace and his entire program look really good.

Still, the story of how Darrow came out as gay - first to teammate Caleb Slate and later to the rest of the team and eventually to his coaches - is still news. Big news, actually.
Shortly after the story about Darrow appeared on yesterday, the phone here at the Office of Athletic Communications began ringing. TigerBlog gets it. This is news.

Even in 2015, when gay marriage is legal everywhere in the United States, when the idea of living a "closeted" existence seems silly, this is still big news.

And it's not easy to do what Darrow did. It's not easy to put yourself out there like that, as "different." Especially in a sport like football.

TigerBlog has no idea how many gay athletes Princeton has. He has no idea how many gay players there are in college football this year.

His sense is that it's more than Mason Darrow in each case.

But he doesn't care. TB's question is can he block? Or, as former men's basketball coach Bill Carmody would have said, "just make shots."

There are two competing dynamics in the sports world, especially the football world, when it comes to the subject of gay athletes.

First, there's the "this is the alpha dog capital of the world" dynamic. This side of it is a foreboding place for a gay player, who has to battle every gay stereotype there is and has to do it from inside the locker room, a place for the biggest and the toughest, a place where teammates mock each other, banter with each other and yes, shower with each other.

They hurl slurs and insults at each other. Awful ones. It's just how it's always been. It's not an easy place to be.

The other side, though, is that sports is one area of society - maybe the only area of society - where it's all about productivity. There's not much gray area. Can you help the team win? Are you a good teammate?

Into that dynamic, the gay athlete fits easily. All labels go by the wayside - race, religion, sexual orientation. Are you a good player? That's the only label that matters.

On a larger scale, society has moved a long way when it comes to acceptance of homosexuality, even if it's not all the way there yet, even if there is still a large segment of the population that will never accept the gay lifestyle, even if the inevitable nasty letter or email is on its way to Princeton because of the story about Darrow.

It certainly is a different planet from the one in which TigerBlog played Caleb Slate to BrotherBlog's Darrow, even if it was only 25 miles away from the bench where Darrow sat while being interviewed by Outsports. That was 35 years ago, when BrotherBlog first told TB that he was gay.

TigerBlog will admit that it was not something that made him comfortable right off the bat. It took him awhile to get used to the idea, and even longer to be able to speak casually on the subject.

One of the big moments for TB was when the Boy Scouts went through the time where gays were not permitted to be scout leaders. Sorry, but TigerBlog was never able to buy into the idea that all heterosexuals were by definition more morally acceptable than any gays.

What about those who cheat on their spouses? Cheat on their taxes? Are they still morally superior to those in committed gay relationships?

When he thought about it in those terms, he couldn't very well accept it.

Besides, this was his only sibling. They'd grown up in the same house. They had the same parents. They went to the same schools, all the way through college, even.

TigerBlog isn't sure exactly when he went from telling people that his brother "was single" to his brother "was gay," but it was a long time ago.

Maybe it's because TB has seen this world through his brother's eyes and his brother's experience, but it's been decades since he understood why it's such a big deal. Consenting adults. Who knows what anyone does? That's on each person.

TigerBlog's sense is that the story of Mason Darrow would have been career-killing had it been back when his brother was first having the same conversation with him that Darrow had recently with his teammates and coaches. Now? By all indications, there's a culture of acceptance and, as TB said before, of "how can you help us achieve our goals as a team?"

Nor does it seem disingenuous. It seems like Darrow's teammates generally don't care about his sexual preference. They just want to win, starting with Saturday's game against Lafayette.

What Mason Darrow has done takes real courage, and he deserves credit for it. The most difficult thing to do is still to be different, to risk the scorn of those you most want to accept you, to be the outcast gay football player, rather than what every offensive lineman wants to be, which is simply some big anonymous dude who never touches the ball or makes a tackle. Maybe what Darrow has done makes it easier for the next person.

He's lucky that he's done this in 2015, and he's lucky that he's done this on a team led by someone like Bob Surace, and with the kind of teammates he has.

TigerBlog isn't sure how much of the general public is as accepting of a gay football player. It's not 100%. TigerBlog will guarantee you that.

If it was close to that number, this would be a non-story. Maybe one day it will be. For now, it's big news.

TigerBlog has never met Mason Darrow. He'd love to see him play for an Ivy League championship team this year.

Not because he's a gay football player. Because he's a Princeton football player.

The rest? That's his business, not TB's. And not yours.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Jaywalker

TigerBlog was driving on Nassau Street, just past Washington Road, on his way to Jadwin Gym one day last week.

He likes to go to work this way. Up 206 and then Nassau Street. Maybe it takes a little longer, but it's not too many extra minutes.

And he likes to see what's going on on Nassau Street in the morning.

Hey, Route 1 is a nightmare. Even if it saves some time, it's a royal pain the butt. Getting off of 95 onto Route 1? Always a disaster. The line backs up to Princeton Pike, and then someone always try to cut off the line and get in.

Princeton Pike? It's a straight line to Princeton from 95, but it's dull. Nothing to see along the way.

Route 206? It's scenic. It takes you past Lawrenceville School, which has a nice campus that most colleges. It goes through the little downtown part of Lawrenceville. It goes past Jasna Polana and the Governor's mansion.

And then it's into Princeton, where it sort of turns into Nassau Street. Well not really. Route 206 goes to the left, up toward Montgomery and Hillsborough. Nassau Street becomes Route 27, up towards Rutgers.

But it's a straight line from 206 onto Nassau Street. And so that's TB's regular road in in the morning.

Sometimes 206 gets crowded, all the way back towards 95, but it's always looks worse than it is. The real worst case scenario is to stuck behind a slow moving dump truck or even a car, because there's no place to pass anywhere. In those cases, yeah, it could take awhile to get from 95 to Nassau Street.

Being on Nassau Street in the morning reminds TigerBlog of a few things. First, he's lucky to work at a place like Princeton, something that resonates even more when he drives past Nassau Hall.

Second, it reminds him of what a great, quaint little town Princeton is, something that can be taken for granted when you're there every day.

Lastly, it reminds him of how happy he is not to be working in, say, New York City.

Anyway, as he was saying, one day last week he drove up Nassau, past Washington, when a woman came out of the CVS and crossed the street to her car, forcing TigerBlog to stop. This was not at the crosswalk, where traffic is required to stop for pedestrians.

No, the crosswalk is about 50 feet up from there, by Thomas Sweet. Nope, this woman clearly crossed the street where she wasn't supposed to be.

TigerBlog didn't get too mad though. The woman turned out to be Laura Granville, Princeton's women's tennis coach.

And that's about the only bad thing TB can say about Granville. She jaywalked.

Granville, now in her fourth season as the Tiger head coach, led Princeton to the 2014 and 2015 Ivy League women's tennis championships. The 2014 team won its first-round match in the NCAA tournament.

She's another Princeton coach who is easy to root for, at least according to TigerBlog. She is soft-spoken, appreciative of whatever anyone does to help her and her program and polite to a fault, something that she displayed even while crossing Nassau Street in the wrong place, when she gave an "I'm sorry" wave, even though she had no idea it was TigerBlog in the car.

Granville might have another distinction. She might be the most athletically accomplished coach at Princeton. 

After winning two NCAA individual championships as a player at Stanford, Granville was a top professional for a decade, including reaching the Round of 16 at Wimbledon. She also reached at least the third round of every other major tournament, and she had a career-best ranking of 28th in the world.

Granville played Serena Williams once, in the second round at Wimbledon in 2003, losing 6-3, 6-1. She lost twice to Venus Williams in two matches as well, going to a tiebreaker in the first set of an event in Memphis in 2007.

In her career Granville was 2-2 against Flavia Pennetta. Who is Flavia Pennetta? She just won the U.S. Open singles championship. She was 1-0 against Roberta Vinci, who knocked off Serena in the semifinals to end her Grand Slam hopes before losing to Pennetta.

She also had two career wins over Marion Bartoli, who was the 2013 Wimbledon champ.

Granville was at the U.S. Open this year. She was doing color for the USTA's online radio broadcasts of the matches. As an aside, TigerBlog can't stand all of the grunting and shrieking in women's tennis.

Anyway, Princeton has other head coaches who were great athletes.

Sprint football coach Sean Morey is a Super Bowl champion. Fred Samara is a former Olympic decathlete. Scott Bradley played in the Major Leagues for a decade.

Laura Granville is up there with any of them, maybe ever, for that matter.

And she's off to a great start as the Tiger head coach.

So she jaywalked once. All is forgiven.

Just don't do it again.

Monday, September 14, 2015

5776 And 2019

TigerBlog's people turn 5,776 today.

Something like that. Today is Rosh Hashanah, and it is the start of the year 5776 on the Hebrew calendar.

Today is a huge day in TB's religion. It's the start of the new year, and the start of an eight-day period of reflection called the High Holy Days. It ends with Yom Kippur next week, during which time Jews throughout the world - though not all of the ones in Jadwin Gym - will fast to atone for their sins of the past year.

TigerBlog is about as Jewish as anyone you'll find whose oldest child is a graduate of a high school called Holy Ghost Prep and a freshman at a college called Sacred Heart University. Okay, so he's not exactly a rabbinical school graduate.

Still, he's Jewish, and proudly so. Oh, and according to TigerBlog Jr., the president of Sacred Heart sent an email to the entire university community wishing all of their Jewish friends "L'shana tovah."

When he was little, his mother made several contributions to his religious development. First, and most notably, she and FatherBlog were founding parents of a synagogue, and it was MotherBlog who gave it its name - Temple Shari Emeth, which means "the Gates of Truth." TigerBlog and BrotherBlog were both bar mitzvahed there, and, coming full circle, MB's funeral was there as well.

In addition, she also made her two sons stay inside after school on three consecutive afternoons to watch "Exodus" on the 4:30 movie.

If you are TB's age and grew up close enough to New York City to get channel 7, then perhaps you remember the 4:30 movie. It was what it sounds like, a move on each day at 4:30. From 4:30-6, to be exact.

Of course, factoring in commercials and all, that meant that most movies had to be shown over two days. Long ones, like "Exodus," took three days.

The movie stars Paul Newman and Eva Marie Saint, among others. It tells the story of the birth of the nation of Israel, after World War II, and TB and BrotherBlog watched it on a Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

TigerBlog has seen it since one other time, though all in one sitting. He remembered very little about the actual movie from when he'd seen it as a kid, but he remembered - and still remembers clearly - that his mother made him watch it and why.

The third thing that MotherBlog did was make TigerBlog and BrotherBlog take the High Holy Days very seriously. There was no playing outside. There was no wearing jeans or shorts. There was nothing but reverence. And a tie.

TigerBlog has never worked on the High Holy Days, and he has gone to services almost every year going back to when he was in college. The only times he has worked is when Princeton has played football on either Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur.

One of those years, TB went to Brown for a football game. He fasted the whole time, which wasn't easy, until he broke the fast at a Wendy's off of I-95 in Rhode Island. When he went to services next to Brown's football stadium, he saw a Brown player there in his uniform.

TigerBlog won't be at work today, and as such, he'll miss one of the more fascinating events of each year, Freshman Student Athlete Orientation. Today is the Class of 2019's turn.

Classes begin this week at Princeton, which is really late by most standards, though there are other schools - like Drexel - haven't started yet either. Because of the academic calendar, there have been orientation events that have had to be held on Rosh Hashanah.

Freshman student-athlete orientation always makes TigerBlog think for a few reasons.

First, it's one of a very few times that the entire class of athletes will be together. There is that. There is a welcome event for athletes at the start of each year.

And there is the Gary Walters ’67 Princeton Varsity Club Senior Athlete Awards banquet just before graduation. That's about it.

The time that elapses between orientation and the banquet is a little less than four years. It always seems like it takes about four minutes.

When TB sits in freshman athlete orientation, he sees a bunch of kids just out of high school who find themselves at Princeton University - hey, congrats to TB's employer on again being ranked No. 1 in the U.S. News and World Report rankings - as athletes and students. They are half feeling great about themselves and half scared out of their minds.

TigerBlog got an email from a men's lacrosse freshman this past week that said "it's still seems surreal to me that I'm going to go play lacrosse at Princeton." Multiply that out by 38 teams and 225 athletes or so in the class and that's about how they all feel.

The banquet is the end of the road. Some at orientation won't be athletes four years from now, as there will always be attrition. Most of will make it to the banquet. Some will be four-year starters. Fewer will be first-team All-Ivy. Eventually, someone from orientation wins the Roper and von Kienbusch Awards as the top male and female senior athletes.

The experience they're all about to have? It's undefined now. Some will play four years without a scratch. Others will battle injuries from Day 1. There will be championships won - and some that will get away.

In the end, the perfect outcome is that they get to spend four years playing the sport they love, have a championship experience at least once, get a Princeton degree and ultimately become loyal alums who never drift that far away from their beloved teammates, no matter where in the world life takes them.

Fortunately for Princeton, more often that not, it's freshmen go on to have that kind of experience.

TigerBlog is sad that he won't be there to share orientation with them this year.

At the same time, MotherBlog wouldn't like it if he went.

Happy New Year to all. May 5776 be a time of peace and happiness, whatever your religious beliefs are.

Friday, September 11, 2015

14 Years Later

TigerBlog was talking to Jim Barlow before he left for Florida Wednesday afternoon, and he told him about his uncle, the one who used to be mayor of South Palm Beach.

You've probably never heard of South Palm Beach. It's a town about a half-mile long, with fewer than 2,000 residents, wedged in between Palm Beach, just north of Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

Based on what TigerBlog observed the one time he was there, the average age of the residents of the town is about 85 and the average height is about 5-2. Uncle Maurice? He might have been on the low side of that.

So yeah, having an uncle who was mayor wasn't exactly a major political victory.

Anyway, when MotherBlog died nearly 21 years ago, it was Uncle Maurice who wanted to give a eulogy. When he went to check out his spot before the funeral began, he told TigerBlog that he'd be needing water for when he spoke, to which TB - who can be sarcastic on his best days, so imagine him at his mother's funeral - said "who are you, Pavarotti? Get it yourself."

Barlow thought that would be a good story to tell here.

Gary Walters thought it would be good to talk about how three Princeton baseball alums find themselves in the thick of the pennant races, such as they are.

Will Venable and Ross Ohlendorf find themselves on the Texas Rangers, who are currently battling the Twins for what appears to be the final Wild Card spot. TigerBlog is rooting for a Yankee collapse, and a Wild Card game between Texas and Minnesota.

Chris Young? He's definitely headed to the postseason, as his Kansas City Royals have run away with the AL Central and might just win it all this time. Young is 10-6 while pitching mostly out of the bullpen these days. He's made one postseason appearance in his career, with the Padres, and he got a win in a game in which he pitched into the seventh without allowing a run.

So yeah, a funny story about an annoying uncle - may he rest in peace, of course - and an update on the men's soccer trip to the Florida? That's a TB natural. So is an update on the Tigers in Major League Baseball.

Not today though.

No, for today, TigerBlog has already been too far off what should be the only subject for today.

It's the 14th anniversary of when the United States of America was attacked. It's 9/11.

TigerBlog remembers every detail of that day, Sept. 11, 2001.

The day was crystal clear, and he had just dropped Miss TigerBlog off at her babysitter and TigerBlog Jr. off at preschool. As he was leaving TBJ's classroom - at the school across the street from the far side of the Jadwin parking lot - the woman who was the office manager at the school said an airplane had hit the World Trade Center.

TigerBlog's immediate reaction was to be confused. How, he wondered, could that possibly be the case?

When he walked outside, he looked up at the sky, and it was as clear and as blue as any sky he has ever seen in his life, before or since. How could a plane fly into the towers?

When he walked into Jadwin a few minutes later, he ran into John Mack, who then worked here and is now a lawyer in the Midwest. He had not heard yet of anything that was happening, and TigerBlog wasn't sure what to believe.

It was true, though. Then word came of another plane that had hit the other tower. Then the Pentagon. Then the fourth, crashing into the field in Western Pennsylvania.

There was only one TV around here back then, and it was in the training room. All day, everyone gathered around it, looking for information and answers.

It was surreal. It was unbelievable. It was a total sucker-punch to the psyche.

It seemed not real. How could this be happening, and how could it be happening 50 miles from here?

There were stories of Princeton alums, Princeton athletes, who had been in the towers. TigerBlog spoke to one, Dan Swingos, a former football captain, about his incredible tale of getting out of the second tower, just in time.

John Schroeder wasn't as fortunate. A member of the 1992 NCAA champion men's lacrosse team, Schroeder died in the World Trade Center that day.

TigerBlog remembers that night too. He stood outside, alone, at the end of his driveway and looked up. He saw stars. He didn't see airplanes. They'd all been grounded.

He wondered if his world would never be the same again. Would the attacks of that day become commonplace, and had the very fabric of life in this country changed?

Now it's 14 years later.

The attacks of that have not become commonplace, but this country was changed forever that day. Security in no way can be taken for granted. Nor is the idea that Americans are safe here because of the geographic distance and separation from those who most want to kill them.

And you know what? Americans are tired of that. They don't like it.

They want to be left alone, to enjoy their lives. They want to be left alone.

TigerBlog thinks there's a connection between the events of 9/11 and the world turmoil it caused and the rise in the mindless nature of contemporary American pop culture. Nobody wants anything serious.

They want American Idol and the Bachelor and the Kardashians. Why? To take their minds of the reality of the world. They want nothing that will require thought or anything with depth. They want simplicity.

It's also why, TB thinks, that social topics like gay marriage and now transgender issues have become such a focus. Why? Because they're issues that can be debated, talked about in depth, that don't touch on national security in any way.

People are too scared to talk about those issues. They just want them to go away.

Well guess what. They're not going to. The enemy is out there. They're plotting right now. TigerBlog and everyone else in this country who has lived in relative peace and stability the last 14 years owe a great deal of gratitude to those in law enforcement and the military who work every day to keep that peace and stability.

So that's what today is about.

It's about taking a really honest, really thoughtful look at the world today.

And it's about remembering what happened 14 years ago today, 50 miles from here. It's about remembering the 3,000 people who were killed on Sept. 11, 2001, which is 500 more than were killed on the attack at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

Three-thousand innocent people, who just went to work that day or got on a plane that day and then had the world implode around them.

Don't ever forget them.

And don't forget the people who have died since. And the ones who continue to put themselves in danger to protect you and TB and everyone else.

They're owed a huge thank you.

September 11. It's TigerBlog's least favorite day of the year.

He'd like to be left alone from reality too. It's just that the world doesn't work that way anymore. And it hasn't, not since this day 14 years ago.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Kicking Off

TigerBlog has no idea exactly how many college football games were available on his TV last weekend.

He knows that there were 10 at noon Saturday alone. He didn't watch too much of any of the games, and for that matter he can hardly remember what any of the matchups were.

Except for one. Penn State versus Temple, which was a 3:30 start.

That was a pretty good one. Especially if you were rooting against Penn State. TigerBlog didn't really care all that much who won. He tuned in when it was 10-10 and went back and forth between that and the James Bond marathon that was on all weekend.

From what he saw, Temple simply overwhelmed Penn State's offensive line. The result was that Christian Hackenberg, Penn State's quarterback, was sacked about a thousand times, as the Owls rolled 27-10.

As anyone who paid any attention at all knows, the win was the first by the Owls over Penn State since 1941. TigerBlog was more interested in how many games that was, rather than how many years.

For instance, Princeton beat Vanderbilt in 1940. If Princeton were to play Vanderbilt again, announcers could say that Princeton hasn't beaten the Commodores since 1940 - but that's only one game, which Vanderbilt won in 1941.

In the case of Temple and Penn State, it was actually 40 games in a row that Temple had lost. That's more impressive to TB than the years.

TB attended the opening football game at Miss TigerBlog's high school. Football is huge there, and both sides of the field were jammed. TB doesn't know how many people that was, but it was several thousand.

It was an interesting game, to say the least. MTBHS led 13-6, but the other team had third-and-goal from the 1 on the final play of the third quarter and 4th-and-goal from the 1 on the first play of the fourth quarter. Neither played worked.

MTBHS then took the ball and went on about a 20-play drive or so, taking 10 minutes off the clock and finally stalling on the other team's five, where a fourth-and-goal failed. This left the other team with two minutes, no timeouts and 95 yards to cover.

As it turned out, OTHS made it about 92 of those yards. The game ended on a fourth-and-goal at the three or so, with an incomplete pass into the end zone. Prior to that, OTHS's quarterback looked like John Elway on the drive.

So MTBHS won 13-6. Each team had the ball once in the fourth quarter. The 12 minutes of the quarter took about 15 total minutes to play.

The NFL season begins tonight, with the cheaters who won the Super Bowl last year against the Steelers. TB figures that he watched fewer than 10 total plays from the NFL preseason.

His Super Bowl prediction for this year? He doesn't have one. Hmmm. It's not looking like it'll be the Giants, TB's favorite team, though the Giants didn't look like Super Bowl contenders in either of the last two preseasons when they won it all.

It doesn't look like it'll be the Redskins either. That was MotherBlog's favorite team.

How about the Eagles and the Ravens? TigerBlog will go with those two.

All of which brings us to Princeton football.

This has always been the worst week for Ivy League football teams. Everyone else in the world is playing. The NFL is starting. College is in Week 2. High schools and even Pop Warner are underway.

And Ivy League teams have another week to wait.

TigerBlog, were it up to him (which it most decidedly is not), would have Ivy teams open this week and then play five games, taking them into mid-October. Then all eight teams would take Oct. 17 off, by which point they will all have played two league games and all three of their non-league games.

They would all come back the next weekend, leaving a five-week, five-league game sprint to the finish line.

The downside is that practices would have to start earlier, which means increased costs. The way upside is a week in mid-season for a little rest and recovery.

TigerBog has been advocating for this for years. He can see this happening before, say, an 11th game, especially an 11th game in 11 weeks. And 11 games in 12 weeks takes you back to starting this past weekend, which means much earlier camps, which translates into much greater costs

For now, it's 10 games, 10 weeks. The opener is still more than a week away, for Princeton at Lafayette next Saturday evening.

Once game week arrives, teams have a much different routine than they have for preseason. That's what makes this week so frustrating. Everyone is pretty much over training camp, but there is no opponent waiting on Saturday.

It'll be here soon enough. Just not as soon as it is for everyone else.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


TigerBlog is testing Fred Samara right now.

The longtime Princeton men's track and field coach and former Olympic decathlete was asked yesterday if he'd read the blog, and he responded that he only reads it when he's in it. How, TigerBlog asked him, does he know if he's in it if he doesn't read it?

It's a good question.

Anyway, he's in it today. Fred Samara. Fred Samara. Fred Samara.

There. He has a few mentions.

Fred was sitting in TigerBlog's office. He was wearing a white polo shirt, or is it a golf shirt?

TigerBlog has never really been able to keep those two straight. He's talking about a pullover shirt with a color and two or three buttons. Is that a polo shirt or golf shirt? Or are they the same thing?

Anyway, Fred's said "Princeton Track and Field" on it. There was a black pattern under the arms down the side.

And there was the most recognizable logo in the world, the Nike swoosh. Nike, as everyone knows, was the Greek goddess of victory, and the "swoosh" represents Nike's wing.

At least that's what is says on Wikipedia.

It also says that the woman who created the "swoosh" was named Carolyn Davidson, and she was originally paid $35 for her work. Eventually, Nike founder Phil Knight gave her an undisclosed amount of Nike stock; TigerBlog is guessing the value added a few zeros to the end of the $35.

Fred's shirt gave him a strong, solid, professional look. That's what happens when you partner with an international leader like Nike.

TigerBlog has said this before, and it's just as true now: The effect off the Nike deal on all of Princeton Athletics has been nothing short of extraordinary. What started out as a bit of a perk has turned into the single best element of what has come to be know around here as "overt pride," something that stretches across every coach, athlete and staff member of the department - and even outside the department.

Actually, TigerBog literally said that five years ago yesterday. He stands by it today.

If you don't feel like going back to the blog of five years and a day ago, TigerBlog can hit the highlights for you now.

His first piece of Princeton gear was a Princeton basketball sweatshirt that former women's basketball coach Joan Kowalik gave to him. During his earliest days around Princeton Athletics, there was little rhyme or reason to one team's gear versus another team's. The logos were different. The oranges rarely matched.

Since Princeton connected with Nike, all that has changed.

Now, Princeton's athletes, coaches and staff all have a first-class look to them, one that goes well beyond just the athletic facilities. This goes throughout the campus, where it used to be a total guessing game as to what anyone would be wearing.

What this led to was something that always tortured TigerBlog, and that was the site of a Princeton athlete in another school's gear. Not a league rival or anything, but something like "North Carolina basketball" or "Notre Dame football." Not here.

When TigerBlog Jr. left for college, TigerBlog ensured that he take nothing with him that said "Princeton" on it. You don't wear someone else's stuff on your campus.

With Nike, Princeton doesn't need to worry about that.

This is no small thing. Do not underestimate the importance of all of this.

When you look good, you feel good. When you look uniform, you feel a part of something. When you see a thousand athletes and a coaching staff and administrative staff all dressed like you are, you realize that you're not here alone. And you realize you can be proud of being an athlete on this campus.

Before Nike, that wasn't always the case. TigerBlog is not making this up or exaggerating.

So on behalf of Princeton Athletics, TigerBlog would like to thank Nike, who has been a great partner for the Tigers.

Every day Princeton athletes walk past TB's office wearing their Nike stuff. Proudly.

As for TigerBlog, he has a ton of Nike stuff. Even his non-Princeton stuff is primarily Nike - with the lone exception some Sacred Heart stuff, which is understandable.

His NCAA lacrosse stuff? It's all Nike. The NFL Films shirt that Jim Barlow's brother Chris gave him? Nike.

He wouldn't wear it otherwise.

Not around here. That's for sure.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

That Was Harsh

TigerBlog's prediction around 12:30 Sunday, as the women's soccer and field hockey teams were about 30 minutes away from start time about 100 yards apart, was simple.

There would be seven goals between the two games, he said, and he would miss all of them. He figured he'd be at one field instead of the other when a goal was scored, and then he'd be back at the other one when the first field had a score.

As it turned out, he was wrong. There were 11 goals, and he saw seven of them.

So that worked out okay.

As for the games themselves, well, they were pretty harsh for Princeton. On the bright side, maybe that'll be the harshest day for the entire academic year, or at least the fall, for the Tigers.

The field hockey game ended with a 4-3 Virginia win over Princeton. The Tigers looked like they were on their way to a nice win until the Cavs tied the score with 50 seconds left and then won it with nine seconds left in the first overtime.

As for women's soccer, Princeton fell 3-2 to Duquesne in a game in which the visitors had just three shots on goal.

So yeah, it was a harsh day, and all in a small space, where Bedford Field and Roberts Stadium are separated by a small road and some tennis courts.

TigerBlog would see much more field hockey than soccer on the day. Had the field hockey game not gone overtime, he would have been able to see the end of soccer, which was the original plan.

It's a shame that both games were 1:00 starts, but TigerBlog gets it. Both visiting teams had long rides home, so they didn't want to start the games too late, and both visiting teams played Friday, so they didn't want to start too early. For that matter, Princeton field hockey played Friday and women's soccer played Thursday.

So that left TigerBlog as one of many there who figured to go back and forth between the two venues.

Why wouldn't you? Both venues are great places to watch a game. Both events were free. It made for a great atmosphere.

There were very good crowds at both games, and both games were at the very least entertaining.

TigerBlog saw the first goal in the field hockey game, which came from Hailey Reeves off a penalty corner. Princeton, 1-0.

Then he walked over the soccer field, in time to hear a loud cheer, one that turned out to be a really nice finish from Tyler Lussi. Princeton, 1-0 there too.

TigerBlog stayed until halftime - by which time Duquesne had tied it - and then went back to the field hockey game, which was also 1-1 at the half. Four goals, of which he'd seen two.

He then stayed until the end of field hockey, seeing the last five goals there, while missing the last three at soccer - including another from dynamic freshman Mimi Asom.

He saw more than goals on Bedford Field, though.

First, he saw a great performance by Princeton goalie Anya Gersoff, whose 14 saves kept Princeton in it.

And he also saw an unbelievable performance by freshman Sophia Tornetta. She was everywhere.

When it was over, she had a goal - a rocket of a penalty stroke - and an assist. She also had two defensive saves in overtime, neither of which was easy and either of which would have ended the game right then and there.

In addition, she also had a length-of-the-field sprint in the overtime in which she looked like the turtle in the Bugs Bunny cartoon with the jetpack on his shell. In other words, she flew by everyone else on the field.

You know who her performance reminded TigerBlog of in a major way? Zach Currier, of the men's lacrosse team. It was that kind of performance, a do-everything-and-do-it-well performance, the kind where nothing seemed to happen without her right in the middle of it, the kind where numbers - however impressive they are - hardly tell the story. Those are the kind of performances that Currier specializes in, and it seems like Tornetta is a similar sort of player.

By the way if you've never seen overtime in a college lacrosse game, it's a wild scene. Instead of 11v11, it's 7v7, which means six field players, which means space all over the field, which also means exhausted athletes everywhere. It was exciting, that's for sure. Sadly, it didn't end the right way for Princeton.

TigerBlog brought Miss TigerBlog and two of her high school lacrosse teammates, Michele and Alexa, to the game. MTB devoted herself this summer to improving, and that's exactly what she did.

She spent hours driving field hockey balls into the lacrosse goal in the backyard, and she and TB went to the high school field, where he'd feed her passes and she'd shoot. She also ran and ran and ran to get into better shape. The result? She's gone from backup on the jayvee team as a freshman to varsity starter as a sophomore. Hey, a little bragging by a proud parent is okay.

When the game ended Saturday, TigerBlog checked Twitter to see that the women's soccer game had just ended as well. As he started to walk away, he ran into TB, Michele and Alexa, who had run into three other teammates and another girl who plays at a different high school, all of whom had been at the game.

They all posed for the requisite picture with Bedford Field in the background. They talked about what a great game it was, how high the level of play was. Then they, like the rest of the two large crowds, began to head home.

It was a beautiful setting for two really good early season college games, with good crowds and, perhaps most importantly, inspirational athletes for the girls in attendance to see play. There were a lot of good things going on on Bedford and Myslik Fields.

It didn't make the two outcomes any less harsh, of course. Well, maybe a little less harsh. But not much.

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Drop-Off

TigerBlog has a bunch of pictures on the shelf above his desk.

At the far end, there's one that's actually two pictures. It shows TigerBlog Jr., on his last day of high school. He's just gotten out of his car, and he has a slight grin on his face, one that said "hey, I'm just a little too cool to make a big deal out of this."

That's the right side of the picture. The left side is TBJ, Day 1 of kindergarten. He's just gotten on the school bus for the first time, and he has a huge, ear-to-ear smile on his face, one that said "this is the coolest thing I've ever done."

TigerBlog has no memory of when TBJ first went to kindergarten. He doesn't remember the bus. The bus stop. None of it.

He does vividly remember a day several years before that, the first time he dropped TBJ off at his babysitter. TBJ was probably just short of a year old, and he went to day care at the house of a woman named Debbie, along with four other kids.

Actually, TigerBlog had taken off a few months from work, sort of, during the 1997-98 winter, to prolong sending TBJ off to the babysitter. It was an interesting time for TigerBlog, as he did all the work as the athletic communications contact - and went to every game - while spending his days taking care of a baby.

That of course wasn't just any Princeton men's basketball season. That happened to be the season when Princeton went 27-2 and moved into the national Top 10.

Princeton was the talk of college basketball that winter, and TigerBlog has a book that chronicles pretty much all of the different media outlets that came here to write about the Tigers. And it was everyone.

The New York Times Magazine. Not the newspaper. Well, the newspaper too, but the Sunday Magazine section. USA Today. The Los Angeles Times. The Boston Globe. Newsweek. Sports Illustrated of course. The San Antonio Express-News. The Washington Post - but with George Will, not just a sportswriter. The Dallas Morning News. The Chicago Tribune. The Baltimore Sun.

All of these publications - and more - came to Princeton, to this campus, to write about the men's basketball team. It was like the women's basketball team's run last year, only without the internet to help push it along.

TigerBlog had no cell phone then. There was no webpage, and he had no way to connect to the internet at home anyway. He had email. That was it. And voicemail on his work phone.

All day long, he'd get messages from media people who wanted to talk to then-head coach Bill Carmody and a handful of the players. TigerBlog would field all the calls, set up the interviews and do all of the things that used to define the position.

Of course, he didn't have a laptop. He did take a computer home with him, but it was an old, old, old Mac, one he could barely do anything beyond word processing. TB would write gamenotes and then have to come into the office to import them into the format he used then.

All while taking care of a baby. Nap time - TBJ was a great napper when he was a baby - was a valuable time for TigerBlog.

Anyway, eventually the day came to drop him off at the babysitter. She lived in Ewing, and TB dropped TBJ off on the way into the office.

The first day was not easy. As he left him there, TigerBlog was filled with a wide array of emotions, really every emotion a person could have. He was concerned about leaving his son in this strange new environment, but he recognized it as a step forward in the walk down life's path. He was sad to say goodbye to the time he'd spent at home with his son, but he was excited at what was coming next.

TigerBlog has never forgotten what that explosion of emotions felt like. Nothing he'd done from that day forward had ever matched it - until last Saturday.

That was when TigerBlog again dropped his son off for the first time. This time, instead of for a few hours at a babysitter, it was at college, Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, to be exact.

Yes, this was another emotional explosion. It still is, actually.

TigerBlog has spent his career looking out his window and seeing college students everywhere. It never really dawned on him that someone dropped them off here at Princeton for the first time, and that it might have been a difficult moment for them.

It's not difficult, per se, as in "the baby is in college." It's difficult because of the helplessness of knowing that there are so many questions that TigerBlog has that he won't be getting answered and so much advice that won't be offered.

TigerBlog Jr. hasn't exactly been good about staying in touch in his first week at school. That's okay. TigerBlog gets it.

TBJ has not initiated any contact other than to email his dad the Sacred Heart lacrosse schedule for the spring and to tell him that he'll wear No. 11 for the Pioneers. Other than that, it's been five texts sent for every one that comes back, and words are more like 20-1 or 40-1.

TBJ lives in a wing of a dorm that has six rooms, with 17 men total. And one bathroom. TBJ's roommate is also a lacrosse teammate who apparently prefers to be called by his last name of "Foley," and there are several other athletes in the wing, including a fencer and football player. The football player was the first person other than Foley that TigerBlog met on move-in day, and he was wearing a "Princeton Tigers" t-shirt, which TB took as a good omen.

It was a typical move-in, TB supposes. Unload the stuff. Unpack it. This goes here. That goes there.

About five hours earlier, with the car loaded up with TBJ's stuff, TigerBlog had backed out of the driveway and started down the street. As he pulled away, he looked back above the driveway, where he'd first shot tennis balls at his son more than a decade ago, and then into the backyard, where they graduated to a lacrosse goal and lacrosse ball, often having the balls end up in the yard of the next door neighbor Bill, a retired airline pilot, or even smashing off of Bill's house. Fortunately, he never minded.

Hours and hours, TigerBlog and TigerBlog Jr. would do this. TB would shoot lefty. He'd shoot righty. He'd bounce shots. He'd shoot high. Even at seven or eight years old, TBJ would never flinch. Over time, TB would shoot harder and harder and eventually hardest, as hard as he could, but by then TBJ was too good for him.

As TigerBlog thinks back about it, he remembers the game they'd play. As they came to the end of their shooting session, no matter how long it was, they had a contest. Could TigerBlog score five goals before TigerBlog Jr. made five saves. Shots wide didn't count.

If TigerBlog lives to be 100, he'll remember those moments as among the very best of his life.

Now, though, the car had left the neighborhood, and as TB came to the center of town, he saw a father crossing a street holding the hand of his son, who appeared to be about three or four.

It made TigerBlog think back to how fast it's all gone by. One day, you're walking across the street with your oldest, who's not yet old enough to go to school at all. The next, you're driving through the same town, on the way to a college, where he won't be able to get rid of you fast enough.

And now it was time to go. TigerBlog's mind raced, filled with everything he wanted to say, everything he thought he needed to say, one more crash course on what a college freshman needed to know to be successful.

Only he said none of it. He knew it was too late by then. It was time to go.

So all that was left to do was to tell TBJ that he loved him and he was proud of him - and to hope that 18 years worth of parenting made some kind of mark on him.