Friday, November 6, 2015

Princeton At Penn x 4

TigerBlog got this text message earlier this week from his friend Charlie, who was his roommate his senior year in West Philadelphia: "You damn well better be rooting for Penn."

Charlie knows better.

Back when TigerBlog was still rooting for Penn to beat Princeton, he played intramural football on Franklin Field. And softball. And co-ed football.

In co-ed intramural football, the rule was that the quarterback had to be a female. TigerBlog's team had a women who was very good at it, and as such made it all the way to the championship game.

The opposing team in the final had a quarterback who had long fingernails with bright red nail polish - and who could throw 40-yard spirals. TigerBlog was impressed, even as she shredded TB's team in the final.

Okay, maybe it wasn't the greatest game ever played at Franklin Field. It was still a pretty good performance.

TB isn't 100% sure when exactly he started rooting for Princeton instead of Penn. He had a buffer between being a Penn student and Princeton employee that consisted of his sportswriting days, and he figures he went from ardent Penn fan to somewhat objective observer to "hey, these Princeton people seem okay" to unapologetic support for Princeton.

And let's face it. While TigerBlog went to college at Penn, he is able to pay for his son to go to college now because of Princeton. That's a pretty substantial difference.

Not that he didn't like Penn. Far from it. He had a great experience there.

Gary Walters, the Ford Family Director of Athletics emeritus, used to tell TigerBlog that he had a "Penn diploma and Princeton education." TigerBlog isn't 100% sure what he meant by that, but it sounds pretty good and as such he's always liked it.

Gary can be that way. He says things that sound really good but who's meaning isn't necessarily obvious, and so the listener is left to figure out what it's all about. The best example of that is Gary's oft-uttered line of "you are what you hang on the walls of your mind," something that TigerBlog is still trying to get his head around.

Anyway, it's a big Princeton-Penn weekend in West Philadelphia, as the Tigers and Quakers match up in field hockey, women's soccer, football and men's soccer.

The field hockey game, which begins at noon, is a winner-take-most game. Doesn't TigerBlog mean "winner-take-all?" No, he means "most."

No matter what happens, Princeton is assured at least a tie for the Ivy League title, which is the 21st title in the last 22 years. And the year the Tigers didn't win? Penn did, in 2004, beating Princeton on a penalty corner that came after time expired (teams get to play out a penalty corner in that situation, as opposed to a corner kick in soccer).

Oh, and John Mack - the 10-time Heptagonal champion whose time these days is spent being a lawyer and changing his 10-month-old son Jacobi's diapers - checked in that Iowa once won 25 straight Big Ten wrestling championships, in response to TigerBlog's wondering how many teams anywhere have ever won 21 league titles in 22 years.

Should Princeton win, it would mean the outright championship and automatic NCAA tournament bid as well. Should Penn win, then there would be co-champions, but Penn would get the auto-bid by virtue of the head-to-head win.

The women's soccer game is winner-take-all, but only if Princeton wins. Princeton, led by first-year head coach Sean Driscoll, has already wrapped up the Ivy League's outright title and NCAA bid.

There are two things on the line in this game. First, there's the chance to go 7-0-0, something that's only happened six times in league history.

Then there's the chance to play at home in the NCAA tournament. Princeton, ranked 24th nationally this week, has an RPI around 30, which puts the Tigers right on the fringes of playing at home. Having a facility like Roberts Stadium can't hurt that cause.

A frustrating season for Princeton and Penn men's soccer is winding down, as both teams are 1-3-1 in the league but not that far away from contention. Penn, for its part, has been outscored 6-5 in its league games. Princeton has been outscored 8-5 in league games, but the Tigers are 7-2-1 outside of the league, which shows just how unpredictable and balanced Ivy men's soccer can be.

And then there's the football game. This one will have two male quarterbacks. Actually, it'll have more than that. Princeton has multiple quarterbacks on most of its plays.

Princeton is 2-2 in the league, while Penn is 3-1. Penn has also won three straight, convincingly, over Columbia, Yale and Brown.

Harvard is the lone unbeaten team in the league at 4-0 after its win over Dartmouth last week. Penn is at Harvard next weekend. The math is relatively easy to figure out.

Princeton's 2015 season has been a series of injuries that has robbed the Tigers of the chance to know how good they might have been. That's the nature of football.

It's also the nature of football that each week is its own mini-season. Princeton-Penn is a big mini-season.

There are four games at Penn tomorrow between the Tigers and Quakers.

Go Tigers.


Anonymous said...

FYI: A trivial aside from Princeton '67.
President John F. Kennedy's Commencement Address at Yale University, upon receiving an honorary degree: "It might be said now that I have the best of both worlds, a Harvard education and a Yale degree." June 11, 1962.

Anonymous said...

Kennedy was just playing to the home crowd. Of course the better combination from the #2 and #3 colleges would be a Yale education and a Harvard degree.

Here at the #1 college, we seem to be sponsoring more slogans in the athletic department. I suggest that, in addition to "An Unmatched Tradition of Athletic Success," "Education Through Athletics" and "Achieve Serve Lead," we add TigerBlog's contribution, "Hey, These Princeton People Seem Okay."