Friday, September 29, 2017

Ivy Kickoff

TigerBlog's favorite professional sports team for basically his entire life has been the Giants.

The ones who play football, that is.

Last weekend, TB watched as Odell Beckham Jr., the team's best player, caught a touchdown pass and then got down on all fours, pretending to be a dog. Then he lifted his leg, pantomiming a dog as it urinated on the grass of Lincoln Financial Field.

What in the world is TB to make of this?

It obviously cost the Giants 15 yards on the kickoff. In a game that ultimately was decided on a 61-yard field goal on the final play, every yard in the game figured to be important.

To make it worse, TigerBlog couldn't figure out what was the most appalling part - that Beckham seemed oblivious to the fact that he had hurt his team, that he wouldn't promise not to do it again or that he decided to fake urinate on an NFL field in the first place.

It reminded TB of what the late, great Marvin Bressler used to say about rooting for professional teams. Marvin was a sociologist, not to mention the inspiration for the very successful Princeton Academic Athletic Fellows program.

Marvin was talking about how fascinating the connection is between fans and their teams, even though the members of those teams usually have no connection to the area. Put on your team's uniform, and all of the sudden you love them.

Marvin was talking specifically about how Philadelphia fell in love with the Flyers when they won back-to-back Stanley Cups in the 1970s. Marv's words: "Why should I care that our Canadians are better than their Canadians."

So that's something of an oversimplification. Still, rooting for the Giants is really hard these days. Beckham is the best player, and if the Giants are going to be good, then he will have to be the main reason why. At the same time, the better he does, the more insufferable he'll be.

Oh well. TB can still root for Marc Ross, the Giants Vice President of Player Evaluation. He's the same Marc Ross who is one of TigerBlog's all-time favorite Princeton football players, a record-setting receiver and kick returner who graduated in 1995.

He's also a former student worker. Much like the great Maggie Langlas, Ross would answer the phones in Jadwin Gym during basketball games after football season. That was back when the media section was on the bench side of Jadwin, in a separate section at midcourt, rather than in tables at courtside.

The current Princeton football team will be on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium tomorrow at 12:30 against Columbia.

Right now, there are five teams in the Ivy League who are 2-0, including Princeton and Columbia. Come tomorrow night, one of them will be 3-0, 1-0 in the league, heading into the final non-league game of the season. For Columbia, that would be Marist next weekend. For Princeton, that would be Georgetown back on Powers Field.

Yale is the only one of the 2-0 teams who has played a league game. The other two 2-0 teams are Penn and Dartmouth, who also play, tonight, in their league openers.

Harvard is 1-1, but the Crimson are also 1-0 in the league after beating Brown a week ago. Harvard and Yale, as well as Brown and Cornell, play non-league games this week.

What all this means is that there will be four 1-0 teams in the league after this weekend. There's no guarantee that the eventual champ or champs will be in that group of 1-0 teams, it's a huge advantage to win the first league game.

Trust TigerBlog on this one. He looked it up once, and it's true.

He looked this up yesterday, and it's also true: Princeton has won 11 Ivy League football championships, and it won its Ivy opener in every one of those 11 seasons.

As for this opener, it'll be the 18th straight year that Princeton opens its Ivy season with Columbia, and it'll be only the third time that both are 2-0 heading in.

The weather will be perfect. Princeton-Columbia will even be the perfect place to atone for your sins, if you're one of TigerBlog's people.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Making History?

It's possible that TigerBlog is making history this weekend, and he'll get to that shortly.

First, TigerBlog has put a lot of miles on his car this week.

Actually, he put 34 more miles on it than he should have.

TigerBlog was driving up to Boston Monday night. When he got to where I-84 ends and the Mass Pike begins, he did something ridiculously dumb.

There is construction going on there now, and the way TB remembers going isn't exactly how it used to be. Instead of getting on going east, he instead started going west.

He realized it in an instant, but it was too late to get over to the eastbound side. And how far is the next exit?

Yup, 17 miles. Seventeen freaking miles.

So that was 17 miles there, get off the highway, make a u-turn in a gas station and then 17 miles back. The entire time, all he wanted to do was scream.

Ah, but Miss TigerBlog was with him, and she was asleep. It reminded TigerBlog of a story that former women's tennis coach Louise Gengler told more than once.

Back before the tennis team traveled by bus, Louise had to drive the team in a van. This was a long time ago, and it's unthinkable today.

Anyway, one time Princeton was at Dartmouth. Louis had driven an hour south on I-91and then stopped to get gas. When she got back on 91, she was going north, instead of south, something she didn't realize until she'd gotten all the way back to Dartmouth, where she made a u-turn. She said nobody noticed, because all of the women on the team were asleep.

If you know Louise, that makes perfect sense. TigerBlog's favorite Louise Gengler story is the one where she came into his office for this actual exchange:
LG: Is it 2 or 3?
TB: It's 2 o'clock.
LG: Good. I have a meeting at 3 and I wasn't sure if I turned my clock back or not.

Anyway, MTB didn't wake up until they were close to the city, and she had no idea about the inadvertent detour. And it still took less time to get there than it did to get back, what with the rush hour traffic and all Tuesday.

This will be a weekend of travel for a few Princeton teams, though not all. The field hockey team, back at .500 with its brutal schedule, plays at home tomorrow night at 6 against Yale. The men's water polo team is home Saturday morning against Harvard, and there are invitationals here for women's golf and women's tennis.

And of course there is a home football game, the Ivy opener against Columbia. Kick-off is at 12:30 Saturday.

As for the travelers, the soccer teams will be playing a doubleheader at Dartmouth Saturday, with the women at 1 and the men at 4.

It's very, very early in the women's soccer race, as each team has played one league game. Princeton, Columbia, Brown and Penn are all 1-0-0.

Princeton is 8-1-0 overall after a big 2-0 win over RPI top 100 Yale in the league opener last week. Princeton is ranked 14th nationally, but more importantly is an incredible seven in the RPI rankings.

The men's race is even earlier than the women's, as this is Week 1 for league games. There is no team happier about that than Princeton, who has had a series of tough losses outside the league so far and a win over nationally ranked FDU.

Whatever it took to get to this point, Princeton and the rest of the league are all 0-0-0. Should the Tigers get to 1-0-0, the early season struggles will have paid off.

And all of that brings TB to his brush with history.

The women's volleyball team, who has won two straight Ivy titles, is at Brown tomorrow and Yale Saturday.

TigerBlog, by the way, was going to stop in at Sacred Heart and say hi to TigerBlog Jr. on the way to Boston and the way back, but the timing never worked out. Sacred Heart is about the halfway point on the ride, minus the extra 34 miles.

If you've never been to Sacred Heart, it's not far from Yale. Princeton's good friends recruited TBJ to be the public address announcer for women's volleyball, and apparently he's pretty good at it.

Princeton will be at Brown tomorrow night and Yale Saturday. TBJ will be there as the PA announcer tomorrow night against Penn and Saturday against the Tigers.

While he's doing that, TigerBlog will be doing the PA for Princeton football Saturday. TB's question - has any father/son combination ever done the PA at two Ivy events in the same day?

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

We're No. 4, Or Maybe No. 5?

Here's the least surprising thing TigerBlog will write in a long time: He thinks Bill Tierney is the best coach he's ever seen.

Stunning, right?

Tierney, in the last 26 years, has made 15 trips to the NCAA men's lacrosse Final Four, winning seven times. The scorecard reads six championships, eight finals and 10 Final Fours with Princeton, and one more championship and five Final Fours with his current team, Denver.

That's a lot of winning.

Want to know what's most impressive about all that? This: zero Final Fours, zero championships, zero NCAA tournament appearances at Princeton before he arrived, and zero Final Fours, zero championships and one NCAA appearance, a lose in the first round, for Denver before he arrived.

Not once, but twice, has Tierney arrived at a place that had no reasonable expectation of what was to follow and then built both into the premiere program in the country. His work with these two teams also was the primary factor for the explosion of the sport in those two areas, and really, with Denver, into the entire Western United States. TigerBlog has seen first hand what an event any home lacrosse game has become at Denver's Peter Barton Stadium.

As you may know, TigerBlog and Bill Tierney go way back. TigerBlog, as you may also know, is somewhat of a fan of lacrosse, and his two children are serious players. This all started with Bill Tierney.

It's not easy to do what Tierney did at Princeton, if for no other reason than most of the program's here have decades of sustained excellence and haven't really needed rebuilding.

Courtney Banghart, for instance, took over a Princeton women's basketball program that was two years removed from a 21-7 record and a share of the Ivy League championship. What she and top assistant Milena Flores have done is take that team so far beyond any reasonable expectation from when they started here, but they didn't have to build the program from the bottom up.

Bob Surace also had a rebuilding job to do when he took over in 2010, but he wasn't starting a program that had never experienced success. In fact, Princeton won the 2006 Ivy title.

What Surace has done is win two titles in the last four years while putting some of the most exciting offensive teams in league history on the field, as well as teams with great balance and lock-down defense.

Chris Ayres has had it much tougher.

The Princeton wrestling coach took over a team that had eight winless Ivy seasons in the 10 years before he arrived and has turned it into the second best team in the league, one that is constantly closing the gap on the Goliath of Ivy wrestling, Cornell.

You can tell a lot about these coaches by the records their first year, compared with the success they've had since.

Banghart - 7-23 (she's now a ridiculous 208-87).
Surace - 1-9.
Ayres - 0-17.

Tierney, by the way, was 2-13 in his first year at Princeton. 

Banghart, also by the way, has taken Princeton to eight straight postseasons and six NCAAs, even winning a tournament game. Surace is almost all the way back to .500 after being 2-20 to start. Ayres has had back-to-back 4-1 Ivy seasons and has had 11 NCAA qualifiers in two years.

All of this brings TB to Ron Fogarty.

The men's hockey coach walked into a situation as tough as anyone when he came to Princeton. The Tigers were 4-23-3 in his first season, in 2014-15.

The ECAC released its preseason coaches' and media polls for 2017-18 earlier this week. Princeton was ranked fifth by the coaches and fourth by the media. TB is pretty sure Princeton has been picked 11th or 12th for the last however many years.

Before one puck drops on this season, think about that.

Princeton was the last team in Division I to win a game last year. The Tigers then went on to host an ECAC first round playoff series, knocking of Colgate for good measure.

Princeton did it last year with a young team, one that seemed to come at its opponents with wave after wave of freshmen and sophomores. At one point, winning a game was a big deal. By the end of the year, winning became expected.

Rebuilding is a process, one that includes recruiting and then culture change within the program. Teams begin to look different long before the games start. There is a different kind of confidence, a different level of respect. Opponents who used to circle that day as a sure win now dread coming to your place.

That's the goal.

Fogarty certainly has his team on track for that, maybe even quicker than he thought he would. Either way, it figures to be a fairly exciting winter at Hobey Baker Rink.

One thing TigerBlog has learned from coaches who rebuild programs is that they think going from 12th to fifth is nice, but going from fifth to first is actually the point.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Happy Birthday Big Boy

FatherBlog is 82 today.

Happy birthday big boy. TigerBlog was talking to his brother the other day and they both agreed that FB is not what you think of when you think of your standard-issue 82-year-old. He's still up every day, suit and tie, off to work in New York City. He still travels. He still eats at all his favorite restaurants.

He was born 82 years ago in that same New York City. He grew up in Brooklyn. He's worked in Manhattan for going on 54 years. He's an Army vet. He never went to college, and yet he's worked hard, achieved big things in business and done the one thing he's wanted to do - see the world. It's an impressive story. 

TigerBlog will be forwarding him the link so he can read those first few paragraphs. And because he didn't have any stamps, so he didn't send him a card, something for which he apologizes.

Speaking of apologies, TigerBlog didn't realize that the field hockey opener was this past weekend until after he'd written about women's volleyball and women's soccer.

As it turns out, all three won their league openers. And all three were impressive.

Before he gets to that, there's the men's soccer team, which opens its Ivy season this coming weekend at Dartmouth. And before that, the Tigers celebrate FatherBlog's birthday with a nationally televised game against Rutgers on Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium. The game will be seen on ESPNU, and it starts at 7.

Princeton, who had played into horrible luck to start the season, comes into the game tonight off a huge performance Saturday, with a 2-0 win over No. 21 FDU. In fact, Princeton is now 1-0-1 against ranked teams (it opened with a tie at No. 8 Syracuse).

The Tigers basically controlled the game against FDU, with a 19-7 edge in shots and nine corners to one for FDU. For all of that, the game was scoreless until less than 10 minutes remained.

For a team that has had its share of late heartbreaks so far this season, Princeton this time reversed that, scoring twice in those final 10 minutes. The result was a really impressive win and perhaps a season that is rejuvenated. You can see the goals HERE.

Again, that game tonight is at 7 at home, with free admission. And if you're not in the area, then you can tune in on ESPNU to see it. 

As for the three women's teams that had league competitions, they all won.

The women's volleyball team swept Penn in three games as it started its run for a possible third-straight championship. If you missed THIS VIDEO of head coach Sabrina King as she was mic'd up before the Penn match, it's definitely worth seeing. So is THIS ONE, which shows some highlights of the match and a huge, spirited crowd at Dillon Gym.

The field hockey team defeated Dartmouth 5-0 Saturday and then also won at Boston University Sunday. It's possible that no college team in any sport has played a tougher schedule so far than the Princeton field hockey team, and the Tigers are a very toughened 4-4 as they head into the heart of the Ivy season, with some other quite challenging non-league tests remaining.

In the only game that TigerBlog was actually at, the women's soccer team defeated Yale 2-0, improving to 8-1-0 on the year. The Tigers, ranked 16th, were taking on a Yale team that was off to a great start as well.

The game was a huge one. Losing at home against one of the league's other top teams in the first Ivy game of the year would not have been good for a Princeton team whose only loss is 1-0 against West Virginia, the national runner-up a year ago.

Instead, the Tigers controlled this one from start to finish. Mimi Asom put Princeton ahead 1-0 with a great goal driving to her left 14 minutes in, and even though it stayed that way until the clincher with five minutes to go from freshman Olivia Kane, there was never a sense that Princeton wasn't going to win.

Vanessa Gregoire assisted on Kane's goal, leaving her two away from tying the school career record, by the way. Also by the way, you can see game highlights HERE.

Another big winner in that game was the crowd at Roberts Stadium. It was a little hot for late September, so it felt more like July, but there was a big crowd and the crowd was into it. Roberts Stadium is a perfect venue for college soccer.

And that word, "perfect," also describes Princeton's weekend in Ivy openers. There is, of course, a very, very long way to go for everyone.

But hey, starting out with wins isn't bad.

And happy birthday FatherBlog. Like Ivy wins for Princeton's teams, TigerBlog hopes he has many more coming his way.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Manic Saturday

Susanna Hoffs?

Was that the answer to the trivia question on the Princeton-Lafayette football telecast Saturday?

The question was - who was the Cincinnati head coach when Bob Surace (now Princeton's head coach) and John Garrett (now Lafayette's head coach) were hired there in 2002? The obvious answer would have been Marvin Lewis, who seems to have been there forever.

Ah, but when the question came on the screen during the third quarter, it spelled "Bengals" with an extra "a" instead of the "e," which made it sound like "Bangals," and ultimately "Bangles," an all-female rock band for whom Hoffs was the lead singer. Their biggest hit was "Manic Monday;" the real trivia question is this: Who wrote that song?

The Bangles had a few really good songs, including "Eternal Flame" and a great version of "Hazy Shade of Winter." They were not, though, football coaches.

The actual answer to the question was Dick LeBeau. And TigerBlog doesn't mean to harp on the typo in the trivia question, since he makes way more than his share of typs each week. And it was corrected between when the question was asked and when it was answered a few minutes later.

By the way, he knows it's "typos." He did that on purpose, to be funny.

Also by the way, it was Prince who wrote "Manic Monday."

Princeton defeated Lafayette 38-17, improving to 2-0 on the young season heading into this Saturday's Ivy League opener against Columbia on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium.

The Tigers

TigerBlog spent eight years as the football contact in the Office of Athletic Communications. For eight years, he went from being the football contact to men's basketball to men's lacrosse, with a few other sports mixed in as well.

He turned football over to his colleague Craig Sachson for the 2002 season, and Craig has been all over things ever since. In fact, Craig hasn't missed a single game in that time.

The win over Lafayette came in Sachson's 152nd game as Princeton's football contact. In that time, Princeton has won three Ivy League titles, and its overall record is 76-76.

Surace came to Princeton well into the Sachson era. In fact, this is the eighth season as head coach of the Tigers for Surace, and his overall record is 35-37. He has won two Ivy titles, in 2013 and a year ago.

While 35-37 isn't as good as Sachson's record, it is important to keep in mind that Surace started out 2-20. Yes, it's easy to forget that now, but that was where Surace was after 22 games.

And since? How about 33-17. That's pretty good.

As for the game against Lafayette, there were things that were pretty and things that weren't. Added all up, it was a game that was never really in doubt, even if it was still just 10-10 midway through the second quarter.

Chad Kanoff had another big game, going 31 for 41 for 256 yards and three touchdowns. If you're wondering, it's just the 13th time in program history that a quarterback has completed at least 30 passes in a game.

Okay, one more trivia question - two Princeton quarterbacks account for six of the first 12 games with at least 30 completions, with three apiece. Name the two.

Jesper Horsted caught six passes against Lafayette, with two of the touchdowns. Charlie Volker, playing for the first time this year, had 111 yards on 20 carries, and one TD of his own.

With two weeks gone in the Ivy League season, what is known?

A few things.

First, everyone who was ready to write off Harvard after the Crimson lost to Rhode Island in Week 1 needs to check out the score against Brown from this past weekend. It was 45-28 Harvard.

Then there was the basketball game that Penn and Lehigh played. Final score of that one? It was 65-47 Penn.

That game featured 1,167 combined yards between the teams. No team had ever scored that many against Penn in a game the Quakers won, and Penn hadn't scored that many itself in a game since 1946. The 112 combined points were the most in any game in the 141 year history of Penn football.

Yale sprinted away from Cornell in the second half to get to 2-0, joining Columbia, Princeton, Penn and Dartmouth, who defeated Holy Cross. Penn and Dartmouth play each other in a big Ivy opener as well this coming weekend.

It's way too early to figure out what's what in the league. All you have to know is that every game is huge.

Oh, and speaking of things you have to know? The two quarterbacks with three games of at least 30 completions are Quinn Epperly and Doug Butler.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Teammate Vs. Teammate

TigerBlog was driving near the Lincoln Tunnel yesterday when he had a really strange encounter with a blue Honda.

There was a broken down truck in one lane back where cars merge about a mile past the tollbooth at the New Jersey Turnpike. The blue Honda first came onto TigerBlog's radar when it wouldn't give the courtesy of an alternate merge as everyone had to move from two lanes to one.

Then, after that, the same blue Honda got stuck behind another truck and, seemingly in a hurry, tried to veer back into the lane next to it, only that's where TigerBlog was at the moment.

TigerBlog gently - gently, he promises - tapped on his horn, and only when the blue Honda actually reached the line that separates the two lanes. And what did the driver of the blue Honda do? Flipped TigerBlog the middle finger.

Now this isn't particularly shocking in that area, right? What made this noteworthy wasn't really apparent until TigerBlog actually drove past the blue Honda and saw the driver.

It was a woman who looked like she was closing in on 80. Seriously. At the very least, she had to be at least 70. Someone's grandma flipped off TB.

What the heck? TigerBlog had to laugh at that. 

It made TB wonder what was so awful about her Thursday morning that she could be in that bad of a mood.

It also made him wonder when the last time Princeton football coach Bob Surace has done the same. TigerBlog will guess this - never.

TigeBlog actually can picture Surace in a similar situation. He's moving into the lane of the person next to him. That person honks.

Surace would wave, smile, mouth "I'm sorry" and say "hah, yeah, that's my fault." Yeah, that's more like it, TB imagines.

Surace takes his team on the road for the first time this season when the Tigers are at Lafayette tomorrow night. Kickoff is at 6.

The Lafayette coach is a familiar one to Princeton in general and Surace specifically. John Garrett is in his first year as the head coach of the Leopards, and yes, it's that John Garrett.

Back in the late 1980s, there were three Garretts who played football at Princeton - John, Jason and Judd. All three were All-Ivy League honorees. The latter two were Bushnell Cup winners as Ivy League Player of the Year, and Jason is now the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

Surace was himself an All-Ivy League center. He and Judd Garrett were teammates on the 1989 team that won the Ivy League championship.

Now Surace is coaching against his former teammate, John Garrett, who was a senior when Surace was a sophomore. They also coached together in the NFL, with the Cincinnati Bengals.

The two actually filmed a video together this past summer, and you can see that HERE.

It's definitely worth watching.

How often are there games that match former teammates as head coaches against each other. TigerBlog, off the top of his head, can think of another one that will come up with this year for Princeton - men's basketball against Cornell (actually it will happen twice), when Mitch Henderson coaches against Brian Earl.

There have to be others, right?

Princeton is looking to build on its 27-17 win over San Diego last week in preparation for next week's Ivy opener against Columbia.

Lafayette? The Leopards are 0-3, with losses to Monmouth, Sacred Heart and Villanova last week Lafayette has its league opener next week, at Holy Cross.

Garrett, in his first year as the coach in Easton, is trying to rebuild his team around freshman quarterback Sean O'Malley, who has been the Patriot League Rookie of the Week once already this year. A Beverly Hills native, O'Malley has completed nearly 60 percent of his passes, for 582 yards and five touchdowns.

Lafayette has struggled defensively, allowing 476 yards per game. Princeton, in Week 1, had 435 yards of offense, of which 352 came though the air.

This is the 50th meeting between Princeton and Lafayette, and the Tigers lead the series 42-4-3. Of those 49 games, 37 have been played in Princeton.

Once the game starts, of course, the fact that the coaches are longtime friends goes out the window.

That does make for a nice little storyline, though.

TigerBlog talks a lot about how the friendships that form on Princeton's teams last forever. Every now and then, though, they have to take a four-quarter pause. 

That's okay. It'll resume as soon as the game is over.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Happy 5778

According to that exalted Talmudic scholar known as "Wikipedia," the earliest that Rosh Hashanah can fall is Sept. 5. The latest is Oct. 5.

That puts the start of Rosh Hashanah this year at essentially the exact midpoint. This is interesting to TigerBlog, because somewhere, at someone's family celebration, somebody will be saying that the holidays this year have either come too early or too late.

This, of course, is a staple of the Jewish High Holy Days. They either come early or late, never on time, even if they come directly in between the earliest and latest they could by virtue of the calendar.

TigerBlog's people all over the world are celebrating the Jewish New Year, the start of the Year 5778. Among the other things that are guaranteed to be said is this: "We should only be together on wonderful occasions."

The holidays conclude this year with Yom Kippur, the most sacred day of the Jewish year. Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement, a day of 24-hour fasting to atone for ones sins that begins Sept. 29.

TigerBlog has great memories of these holidays from when he was a kid. They were very serious for the late, great MotherBlog, who instilled in her two sons early on that these were days that were meant to be taken seriously and respected for their significance. They're a time of celebration and self-reflection.

Schools were always closed for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, as they continue to be in pretty much every school district around here these days. In fact, TB was looking at the local high school football calendar and saw that most games have been moved off of Friday night to Saturday afternoon or night this week.

Even with school closed, MotherBlog did not permit anything other than whatever holiday-related events she had scheduled. There would be no playing outside when TB and BrotherBlog were little.

TigerBlog has gone to work on the holidays when there have been athletic events, usually football games. That will be the case for this Yom Kippur, which will be continuing during Princeton's home football game against Columbia on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium.

There are no Princeton Athletic events today. In fact, there are probably fewer athletic events on Thursdays than on any other day of the week through the years.

There is the first Ivy League event of the 2017-18 academic year tomorrow, when the two-time defending league champion women's volleyball team hosts Penn. That's a 7:00 start in Dillon Gym.

As of right now, six of the eight women's volleyball teams in the league have a better than .500 record, including Princeton (7-3) and Penn (5-4). This tells you exactly nothing about how the league race will play out.

The second Ivy event of the year will be Saturday, when the women's soccer team hosts Yale at 4. For this one, numbers can tell you quite a bit.

The Princeton women's soccer team is off to an amazing start to the 2017 season. The Tigers are 7-1-0, with the only loss by a 1-0 score last weekend to West Virginia, last year's NCAA runner-up.

Princeton entered the national rankings last week, and the Tigers actually jumped four spots to 16th even with that loss. What's more important, though, is the RPI numbers.

Princeton is ranked eighth in RPI, which is impressive enough. Then throw in some of the wins Princeton already has: North Carolina State (13th in RPI), Wake Forest (15), Monmouth (65), Villanova (89) and New Hampshire (90).

That's five Top 100 RPI wins already.

The next opponent, Yale, is doing some resume building of its own. The Bulldogs, who are 6-2-1 on the year, are 91st in RPI. Harvard, by the way, is 77th.

In other words, this is a huge way to start the league season. Doing it at home doesn't hurt.

It is very, very difficult in a sport like soccer, men's or women's, to run the table. On the women's side, it's happened only twice since Princeton's magical run in 2004 to the NCAA Final Four - by Princeton in 2012 and Harvard in 2013.

The only men's team to do so in the last 10 seasons was Princeton in 2009.

The point is that there is some margin for error, and the championship can't be won in the first game. On the other hand, when you play a single round-robin schedule, every game is huge.

A matchup of two Top 100 teams Saturday is a great way to start. Especially with no admission charge.

And happy 5778 to everyone. Hopefully there's some peace in the world to come.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Welcome Jordyn

Ah, there's nothing like a good event meeting to bring out the laughs.

Actually, TigerBlog would like to talk to you about humor, in all seriousness. Does that sound funny, because he didn't mean it to be.

One of the best parts of the Princeton Department of Athletics is that its administrative staff is filled with people who like to laugh. With the constant flow from 37 varsity teams and 1,000 varsity athletes and everything that goes along with it, being able to laugh is a really, really good thing.

There's a difference between being silly and keeping the mood light. Around here, the people are pretty good at avoiding the former and focusing on the latter.

Because of that, TigerBlog hasn't seen much of what would be considered "burn out" here. Yes, the people who work here do a ton of stuff. At the same time, they feel like they're also a part of a team, like everyone is working for the same goal.

The reason for this is that it's not like working in an environment that is deadly serious at all times. Yes, there are moments when that is necessary. Just not all the time.

This of course starts with the two Ford Family Directors of Athletics with whom TB has worked, first Gary Walters and now Mollie Marcoux Samaan. And yeah, they have slightly different senses of humor, but they both have good senses of humor. There's a time to be serious, and a time to laugh. They both get that.

The event meeting yesterday reminded TigerBlog about the value of humor.

As it was ending, Brendan Van Ackeren mentioned that there wasn't much difference these days between being in his office and being at home. Pretty funny stuff, right?

Oh wait. Maybe you need a little context.

Brendan is married to Lisa Van Ackeren, the softball coach here. His office (and hers, actually) is on the Jadwin balcony, where the Office of Athletic Communications was for the first 46 years or so of the building's existence.

Lisa Van Ackeren was Lisa Sweeney when she pitched against Princeton for Lehigh in the NCAA tournament a few years ago. Brendan was a football player for the Mountain Hawks. He's also a graduate of the same high school as none other than Pete Carril, as they both went to Liberty High School in Bethlehem.

Lisa has led Princeton to the Ivy League championship and NCAA tournament each of the last two years.

Anyway, if you go upstairs these days, you'll see that the balcony has a large sheet that separates it from the construction going on in the lobby. The sheet keeps the balcony somewhat clean, but it does not keep it quiet, not with the major construction project that is going on in the lobby.

In fact, it's pretty loud up there these days.

Down in the new OAC, on E level? Peaceful quiet - unless the neighbors (the wrestling team) start blasting their music.

The construction is supposed to be finished by Nov. 1. TigerBlog has seen the plans for how the lobby will look, and it should really be spectacular. As the construction goes, you can see how it's starting to take shape. 

So that's one half of Brendan's joke. The other is that he and Lisa have someone new staying with them at home, and that would be Jordyn Van Ackeren, their newborn daughter.

Jordyn turns one week old today. If you've ever been around a one-week old, they tend to make more noise than an entire construction project, or at least close to it.

TigerBlog gave the Van Ackeren's the same advice he gives all soon-to-be first-time parents. If there's a TV in the bedroom, leave it on all night, without the sound when the baby falls asleep. Then, when the baby wakes up, the light from the TV will be enough so that you don't have to turn any lights on, which means that the baby doesn't think it's play time. Plus, with the TV on, you can watch it while you change and feed the baby.


Having your first newborn is a bit intimidating. TigerBlog remembers almost being frightened when the nights would roll around, because each one seemed to last forever. And he was so jealous of other people who had babies who were even four months or six months old, because they seemed so much easier to take care of than an infant.

Speaking of first newborns, TigerBlog called his first newborn and got no answer. Then he got a text message that said he was at dinner and would call him back when he was finished. That was nine days ago. And he was such an angelic little newborn.

As for Brendan and Lisa, TigerBlog wishes them all the best with the baby. His tip is a simple one. Pretty much everything else you have to figure out for yourself.

And they'll catch up on their sleep. It'll just take a decade or so.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Golfing With The Hoopsters

The first person TigerBlog saw when he got to Springdale yesterday afternoon prior to the start of the Friends of Princeton Basketball golf outing was Amanda Roman.

Amanda spent four years as the manager of the women's basketball team. She was the fifth member of the great class of 2013, the one that won four Ivy League championships and reached four NCAA tournaments.

TigerBlog wrote about Amanda a few times, since she is the daughter of a friend of his from Penn and TB is the one who connected Amanda with Courtney Banghart and the basketball program in the first place. Also, Amanda was a huge "Homeland" fan, and she actually wrote a guest blog about the final episode of the season in 2012.

Anyway, it's always good to see Amanda. She's from a golfing family, and her father Jon played at Hofstra.

Oh, and she's engaged. She works for the Jets. She's marrying a guy who works for the NFL. TigerBlog is happy for them.

As you remember, the last time TigerBlog was at Springdale was for the men's lacrosse golf outing, back in July. TigerBlog, of course, is an awful golfer, and he made that perfectly clear with the way he played that day.

This time, TigerBlog didn't even attempt to play. He did stop by for lunch, and afterwards, to see some familiar faces after they got done playing 18.

Miles Clark was there. Miles graduated in 1996 and is now a lawyer in Washington, D.C., with two kids. If there would be a "basketball managers" Hall of Fame, Miles, like Amanda, would have made it on the first ballot.

In addition to the two managers, there were also former players, men's and women's. There was a big turnout from the team of 1983, who was honored as the 35th anniversary of its Ivy title looms.

TigerBlog met Jeff Pagano, someone he knew a lot about but had never talked to before. Then he saw him hit one shot, with a driver off the 10th tee, and he hit it perfectly straight and really far. Apparently he's a really good golfer.

He also saw Howard Levy, Rich Simkus and one other member of the 1983 team. A year later, that third member would score more points in an NCAA tournament than any other Princeton player other than Bill Bradley. Can you name him?

The NCAA tournament in 1983 was a 52-team event, and Princeton defeated North Carolina A&T 53-41 at the Palestra in a play-in game. After that it was off to Oregon State, where Princeton defeated Oklahoma State before falling to Boston College.

Give up on the other player? He scored 38 in the play-in game in 1984, when Princeton defeated San Diego.

Yes, his name is Kevin Mullen. You know him as Moon Mullen.

There aren't too many Division I schools anywhere who can measure up to the basketball programs at Princeton.

The women's team has made eight straight postseason appearances, including six to the NCAA tournament. The women earned an at-large bid to the NCAAs two years ago, something no Ivy League team had ever done before.

The men's team has won 27 Ivy League championships and has carved out a unique place in the history of college basketball. Princeton's basketball resume includes an NCAA Final Four in 1965, an NIT championship in 1975, nationally ranked teams in the 1990s, an offensive philosophy that continues to impact the way the sport is played and, most recently, a 16-0 run through the league that no other team had ever been asked to do before, what with the advent of the Ivy League tournament.

More than all of that, though, Princeton basketball has this incredible loyalty among the people who have played here. It even manifests itself in the coaching tree, as the last four head coaches - John Thompson III, Joe Scott, Sydney Johnson and Mitch Henderson - are all alums.

Henderson had a painter's cap, if that's the correct term, from the 1983 team's appearance in the NCAA tournament. It was Henderson who read the rules of the Shotgun start before sending all of the golfers out to their starting holes.

Somewhat shockingly, Henderson is entering his seventh year as the head coach of the Tigers. He has never had a losing season at Princeton, either overall or in the Ivy League, and he has averaged 10.5 Ivy wins in his six years, a figure that doesn't include the two Ivy tournament wins a year ago.

His Princeton teams play like NBA teams in terms of offensive tempo, and they continue to defend extraordinarily well, despite all of the extra possessions in the games these days. He has recruited great players to Princeton. and the on-court product is exciting and successful.

Beyond all of that, though, he is the perfect person to be running the show, with the way he combines coaching ability with a great understanding of the value of his alumni base and the history of this great program. It's not hard to see why those alums, from all eras, have great respect for what he's done here.

The men's and women's teams aren't too far away from the start of practice, and they're both hoping to extend the season into the NCAA tournament come March.

Yesterday wasn't really about any of that. This was about celebrating, where Princeton basketball is now and where it has been in the past.

And there aren't too many places where that's done better than it is here.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Kicking Off With A Win

Just when TigerBlog started to think that all of the college football games on his TV late Saturday afternoon were deadly dull, along came Florida and Tennessee to change all of that.

Did you see how this one ended?

The teams were tied at 20-20 in the final minute of regulation. Florida had the ball, in its own territory, seemingly going nowhere after wasting nearly 30 seconds without calling a timeout. As it turned out, that might have been a genius move, since it meant there was no time left on the clock after Feleipe Franks hit Tryrie Cleveland between the "8" and "9" on his uniform from nearly 70 yards away for the winning touchdown.

It wasn't a Hail Mary, per se. It was just Cleveland, wide open behind the defense somehow as time was running out. And it was Franks, who threw the most perfect deep ball ever thrown, for the win.

Other than that, it was a dull late afternoon of games on TV. Lots and lots of games. Seemingly on every channel.

Back when TigerBlog was a kid, there were a handful of games on per weekend, if that. And they all seemed to have Oklahoma, and the wishbone offense that the Sooners ran, in them. The wishbone was actually a fascinating offense, one that relied on force, deception and intelligence - but back then just seemed dull, since the Sooners almost never threw it.

There were also two Sunday college football highlight shows, narrated by a man named Bill Flemming. According to his Wikipedia page, he was born in 1926. That's nuts. That's making TB feel a little old actually.

One of the shows was one of the top games of the week. The other featured a few games that were showcased.

Now, it's wall-to-wall college football every Saturday, starting at noon, and sometimes before noon. When TB was a kid, that time slot, by the way, belonged to "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle."

The Princeton Tigers opened their season this past Saturday, with a noon kickoff, and defeated the University of San Diego 27-17.

The story of the game was quarterback Chad Kanoff, who threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns, all of which went to Stephen Carlson, who caught two passes total a year ago. Carlson became the first Princeton player to have at least three receiving TDs in a game since Michael Lerch had that legendary game against Brown in 1991, with TD catches of 64, 79, 90 and only 45 yards.

Kanoff's big game vaulted him into third place all time in passing yards at Princeton, and in doing so moved ahead of Jeff Terrell and Jason Garrett. That's two Bushnell Cup winners and two all-time Princeton greats, not to mention the current head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

By the way, of the 15 highest single-game passing yardage totals in school history, a total of 11 of them were between 1981-85. Look at the scores from some of those games when you get a chance.

The 352 yards that Kanoff had through the air did not move him into the top 15, but they were the second most in Princeton Stadium history by a Princeton quarterback, behind only the 367 Connor Michelsen had against Brown in 2014.

Kanoff now has 4,388 passing yards for his career. He trails only Doug Butler, with 7.291, and Matt Verbit, with 5,202.

Kanoff would catch Butler by averaging 320 per game for the next nine games, by the way.

Jesper Horsted set a Princeton Stadium record with 12 receptions against San Diego. Horsted, a junior, is also a big-time baseball player at Princeton.

As for Carlson, what is known about him? He's from Jamestown, the one in New York, the one that appears to not be far from Lake Erie. Like Horsted, he's a junior with good size, at 6-4, 225, and he had one reception against both Lehigh and Penn last year.

From his bio on, it appears that he's an engineer and that he likes to play the saxophone.

Next up for Princeton is a trip to Lafayette, this coming Saturday at 6. Lafayette is off to a tough start at 0-3, with losses to Monmouth, Sacred Heart and Villanova.

Lafayette is coached by John Garrett, a 1988 Princeton grad and the brother of Jason and Judd. John is in his first year as the head coach of the Leopards.

After that, it's back to Powers Field at Princeton Stadium for the Ivy opener against Columbia.

As for the opener, it was a chance to play, and to play an opponent that's used to winning more games than it loses. John Lovett, last year's Bushnell Cup winner as the Ivy League's Offensive Player of the Year, was on the sideline Saturday with his No. 12 and his arm in a sling, which wasn't a good sight.

But seeing how Kanoff was throwing the ball? That was in fact a very good sight for Princeton fans.

In fact, there were a lot of things to like about the 2017 debut beyond just the final score. Now watch how quickly the weeks fly by, and see if Princeton can get to November with some meaningful games to play, which is always the goal of every season.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Time For Kickoff

TigerBlog can't be the only one struck by the contrast between the two most recent college football behind-the-scenes shows he's seen.

One of them is "Last Chance U" on Netflix. The other is "A Season With Navy Football" on Showtime, the first at East Mississippi Community College and the other at the United States Naval Academy.

It would appear that at first glance, other than the fact that there are cameras following football players and coaches around all week and then at that weekend's game, that these two teams have nothing in common.

The differences are glaringly obvious. On one side, the story centers around players who, as the title suggests, have already had their big-time opportunities and failed, leaving them at a small community college in Mississippi, where they hope to turn things around to get another chance. The struggles to keep the players engaged academically as they chase the minimum standards they need for Division I eligibility are obvious, and the saintly academic advisor became a national star for her efforts - until she just couldn't take it anymore and left.

What comes across from her is the frustration of trying to keep these kids on course when, by appearances at least, their academic progression is more important to her than to the players themselves. Heck, how many scenes are there when she has to ask the players if they have a pencil or a notebook?

And that doesn't even take into account the news that broke yesterday of one of the players featured in Season 2 who was just arrested in connection with a fatal stabbing.

It makes for quite the contrast with the students at the Naval Academy, obviously. Even the academic advisor for the football players is a Marine Corps officer.

The two head coaches couldn't seem less similar if it was all scripted. Buddy Stephens, from EMCC, comes across as simply a jerk who turns a blind eye to anything that can't help his team win games, often by as many points as possible. Navy's Ken Niumatalolo, much like Princeton's Bob Surace, seems like the exact guy you'd let coach your kid.

In "Last Chance U," the singular goal is use football to get to the NFL, which several who have come through the program there have achieved and which most have not and will not. In "A Season With Navy Football," the goal is to play football now and serve their country later. It is for them a calling, and it's very inspiring.

The biggest difference between the two teams can be summed up in one word - discipline. There is next-to-none of from the players at EMCC. There is an abundance of it from the players at Navy. Yes, that is the point of a service academy. It's a military institution, and the military relies on discipline. The slightest bit of it at EMCC, though, would go a really, really long way for the players, both on the field and in the classroom.

There are two similarities that come jumping out from the two shows.

First, in some ways, football is football, whether it's at a junior college or the top level of Division I. The preparation, the practice, the way that the players reveal themselves through how they practice and play and, more than anything else, the dynamic that exists between head coach and assistant coaches, head coach and players and assistant coach and players.

The other is way more subtle. As much as the players seem to not care at all about going to school on "Last Chance U," they are still IN school, which they wouldn't be were it not for football. And they are forced, as a result, to go to class, to do the work - or they won't have any chance of advancing. As for the Navy players, they are also forced to learn the balancing trick of football and athletics, with the unbelievable demands of the Academy added on.

This is what here at Princeton is called "Education Through Athletics." It's about the life lessons that college athletics teach and the way that athletics becomes an extension of the educational experience, not a competitor with the educational experience.

Navy, EMCC, Princeton. That part is the same.

TigerBlog's only complaint about the Navy show is that it's only 30 minutes. He thinks 45-60 minutes would be much better.

Oh, and it just has to be driving the people at Army nuts.

Speaking of football, the 149th year of Princeton football begins tomorrow at noon, when the Tigers host San Diego.

Princeton enters the 2017 season hoping to be where it was at the end of 2016 - celebrating an Ivy League championship. That task would be easier with a healthy John Lovett (you remember him from his first-team All-America season a year ago after his amazing 31-touchdown season), and it'll be interesting to see how his absence impacts the offense - and who steps in to his role.

Defensively, Princeton will be led by lineman Kurt Holuba, who is as good as it gets in the Ivy League. 

San Diego comes across the country after having played two games. The Toreros are 1-1, with a win over Western New Mexico and a loss to Cal-Davis. The opponents and the scores are irrelevant; it's the advantage of having played two games already against a team playing for the first time. 

Princeton has two non-league games to start the season, tomorrow against San Diego and then next Saturday at Lafayette, before opening the league season at home against Columbia Sept. 30.

There are all kinds of events before the game tomorrow as well. From the pregame story:
Prior to the game, there will be a Youth Clinic on the neighboring Weaver Track (10:30-11:30). Princeton student-athletes, representing a variety of varsity sports, will come to Weaver Track to work with the children and teach them the general skills and techniques associated with their respective sports. In the past, the student-athletes have staffed approximately 15 sport and activity stations, including basketball, soccer, lacrosse, track & field and volleyball, to name a few.

There's something really special and really fun about the first football game of the year. The weather for practice has been really good, and the weather for the game should be relatively perfect.

It's time for kickoff for Princeton.

It's a 10-week sprint to the finish, one that, for Princeton, hopefully will mirror 2016.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

A Really Nice Touchdown

TigerBlog came back into the office yesterday at one point and was greeted with this question from his colleague Craig Sachson:

What was Maggie's last name?

With all due respect to all the other Maggies who have ever played sports at Princeton, TigerBlog knew immediately which one Craig meant.

"Langlas," he said. "From Missoula, Montana."

Maggie Langlas, Class of 2000, was a 1,000-point scorer and first-team All-Ivy League selection as a women's basketball player here. She reached her 1,000th career point in the same game as her teammate Kate Thirolf, also a first-team All-Ivy honoree, and that game was played at, of all places, the University of Hawaii.

Interestingly, as far as trivia goes, Langlas and Thirolf reached 1,000 points on the same court in Hawaii where Gabe Lewullis of the men's team had done so the previous season. Princeton had three straight players reach their 1,000th point at the University of Hawaii.

Langlas and Thirolf also aren't the only Princeton duo to reach 1,000 points in the same game. Just three years after they did it, Maureen Lane and Allison Cahill both went over 1,000 points in a triple-overtime win at Yale.

In addition to being great basketball players, Maggie Langlas and Kate Thirolf were both student workers in the Office of Athletic Communications. Back then, at football games, someone needed to be assigned to sit by the phone and answer it when wire services called looking for the score of the game, as well as call several outlets at the end of each quarter or after a score.

Maggie, then a freshman, jumped right in, during the last season at Palmer Stadium. TigerBlog can still hear her as she said:
"It's 7-0 Princeton."
"What kind of touchdown?"
"It was a very nice touchdown."

That's Maggie in a nutshell. It's likely that you have never met anyone nicer than Maggie Langlas.

Anyway, a quick search seems to reveal that she is now Maggie Langlas Ward, a lawyer involved in issues related to sports. Click HERE to see.

As for current Princeton Maggies, there's Maggie O'Connell, a sophomore on the women's volleyball team. This Maggie was the Ivy League Rookie of the Year and a first-team All-Ivy selection a year ago, when Princeton won its second straight Ivy League title and advanced to the NCAA tournament.

Maggie O'Connell is from Katy, Texas, which is close to Houston. Hopefully Hurricane Harvey was kind to her and her family.

The women's volleyball team is off to another strong start for 2017-18. This weekend, the Tigers will be in Washington, D.C., playing at a tournament at American. Princeton takes on the host team tomorrow night at 7 and then plays Howard and Iowa Saturday.

Speaking of tomorrow, there is another soccer doubleheader on Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium, a big one at that. It's the reverse of a week ago, as the women's game will be first, followed by the men.

It begins at 4, when the women take on West Virginia, in a game that will be televised on ESPNU. The second game, which starts at 7, will match the men against SIU-Edwardsville.

Admission, of course, is free.

The women's game is a matchup of Top 20 teams. West Virginia, ranked sixth, owns wins over then-No. 1 Penn State and then-No. 5 Georgetown.. The Mountaineers also are coming off a season in which they went 23-2-2 and reached the NCAA championship game, where they lost 3-1 to USC.

Princeton is off to a 6-0 start, one that included a sweep of nationally ranked North Carolina State and Wake Forest on the road. Those wins pushed Princeton into the national rankings this week, at No. 20.

Princeton had shut out its first five opponents before New Hampshire scored a goal in last Sunday's game, leaving it at 1-1 midway through the second. Princeton responded in a big way, getting two goals to win 3-1. It's the kind of test that a team that's had everything come easily so far needed to have, and maybe that was the best sign from the Tigers so far this year.

Or maybe the best sign is that Princeton has gotten 14 goals this season, and they've come from six different players.

After West Virginia, Princeton will host Delaware Sunday at 4. If you want to see West Virginia twice this weekend, come back at 1 Sunday, when the Mountaineers take on La Salle on Myslik Field.

As for the men's game, SIU-Edwardsville is the defending Missouri Valley Conference champ. After that, the Cougar won two games in the NCAA tournament a year ago, beating Michigan State and Butler before a 2-1 loss to Wake Forest in the third round.

SIU-Edwardsville is 2-3 this year. Princeton and SIU-Edwardsville actually have a common opponent, Syracuse, whom Princeton tied 1-1 and whom the Cougars lost to 2-1.

So that's tomorrow's doubleheader.

Remember, admission is free.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

No. 1 Again

On the day after the iPhone 8 was introduced to the world, TigerBlog would like to salute something that long ago seemed to vanish from its former role, which was to simply annoy the bejeezus out of people on a regular basis.

He speaks of the busy signal.

If anything is the 180 degree opposite of the most updated version of the iPhone, it's the busy signal. Hey,  there isn't a Princeton student around who has ever gotten one.

Basically, a busy signal was a beeping noise that you heard when you called someone who was on the phone at that time. For however long that person was on the phone, you'd get a a busy signal each time you dialed that number.

The average telephone call back then - you know, those long ago days of the 1970s or so - was probably much longer than today's. People don't like to talk on the phone like they used to, not with the ability to text. In fact, people often will send a text that says "can you talk" rather than simply calling.

As TB has said before, if technology had evolved in reverse order, then you would hear people say things like "why are you texting that person when now you can actually talk to them and hear their voice?"

Ah, but the busy signal. Beep. Beep. Beep. Then you'd have to wait a minute and try again. Beep. Beep. Beep. Then a few more minutes. Beep. Beep. Beep.

You'd be trying to call your mother to say that you forgot something or your friend to make sure they're still meeting you, but someone's younger brother or sister was on the phone, talking about nothing for 30 minutes with some other little kid. And there was nothing you could do about it, other than scream at your own phone as you slammed it down, shouting "get off the @!#$!#@$ phone already."

Well, not quite nothing. You could call the operator (do they still have operators?) and request an emergency break-in call.

The busy signal was pretty much wiped out by call waiting. Early call waiting on landlines (they were just called "phones" then) didn't come with call waiting, and nobody yet had an answering machine, so the choice was to either click over to the other call or be left wondering who in the world it was, what hugely life-changing call you just had let slip away. This led to a whole different world of poor etiquette, the "yes you are important but the other line is buzzing at me and it is probably more important than you" moment that dominated those days.

Caller ID was a big invention. TigerBlog had a friend in college named Paul, and when Caller ID first came along, one of his other friends told Paul that now that people would know it was him when he called that nobody would ever answer him again.

It all seems so quaint and nostalgic, talking about busy signals and phones that didn't go with you when you left the house. As everyone knows, those days are long gone.

Hey, even an iPhone 5 looks like it should be in the Smithsonian.

TigerBlog wonders what number iPhone the current freshman class will take to its 50th Reunion, in 2071. TB mentioned that yesterday, when he spoke about freshman athlete orientation.

Those freshmen will be taking their iPhones to their first day of classes here at Princeton. Today is Day 1 of the fall semester, which starts fairly late compared to most other schools.

TigerBlog remembers vividly his first day of classes at Penn. He had a politics class in the University Museum, and he walked down Spruce Street from his dorm in the Quad on a warm, sunny September morning.

As he walked past the hospital, there was some minor construction going on, and he could smell the tar as it was being put down. Anytime he's smelled that since, it's taken him right back to that moment.

That was the first class his freshman year. His first class his sophomore, junior and senior years? No idea.

The start of classes at Princeton will bring with it a more structured routine for the fall teams that have already been competing. To this point, it's just been practice and games, without any of the dynamics that go along with the academic side of things here.

That changes today.

In addition to the news of the iPhone 8, yesterday also saw the release of the U.S. News and World Report annual college rankings. Princeton, again, was the No. 1 ranked university in the United States.

The idea that Princeton combines that sort of academic record with the athletic success it has enjoyed through the decades is something that there's an understandable amount of pride in among the people who work in this department. It's why they do what they do, to help an incredible group of young men and women have the best possible experience they can.

It's worth remembering, obviously, that neither of those accomplishments - academics and athletic - happens accidentally. When Princeton coaches recruit and say that in coming here, athletes can play the sport they love on a championship level while also getting the best possible undergraduate education, they're completely serious.

So the fall season has started in seven sports, and the eighth, the football team, opens Saturday.

School opens today.

The goal around here, as it is ever year, is to be the absolute best at both.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Class of 2021

TigerBlog loves the P-Rade.

You know, the one at Reunions each year. It's awesome. The 25th Reunion Class, and the Old Guard, and then everyone else, all decked out in their beer jackets, with the random splashings of orange and black, stripes and checks.

What does that have to do with early September?

TigerBlog will get to that in a second.

Yesterday was Freshman Student-Athlete Orientation. It's an annual gathering of the incoming athletes, along with the current captains, in the McCosh 50 lecture hall.

It's quite a contrast from the event that kicks off Reunions, when the senior athletes gather for the Gary Walters Princeton Varsity Club Awards Banquet. That's the finish line for the athletes.

The event yesterday is something of the starting line. Yes, many of the fall athletes have already competed, so it's not quite like the first day they're all on campus.

What it is, though, is one of the few times the entire athletic class will be together at the same time., and TigerBlog is always struck by a few things about the event.

First, Princeton has 37 teams. There are more than 200 freshman athletes, and they come here from incredibly different backgrounds, different states and countries, with different experiences as they grew up. A football player from Texas, for instance, had a much different high school experience than a women's squash player from Egypt. That's obvious.

And yet they're both here, Princeton freshmen, ready to compete for the same school, hoping to have the best possible experience. Even within their sports, most of them are tossed together here as total strangers. And yet they now have that bond, Princeton Athletic Class of 2021.

As he does every year at freshman athlete orientation, TigerBlog looks around the room and wonders what the next four years holds for each of them. And, as always, he wonders one other thing.

Somewhere in the room yesterday were the 2021 winners of the von Kiensbusch Award and the Roper Trophy, the top senior athlete awards - unless one or both of the winners is like last year, when Ashleigh Johnson won after taking a year off from school to train for the Olympics. But hey, you get the point.

In addition to the winners, there will also be a handful of finalists for the awards. Who will they be?

So those are the things that TB thinks about each year.

Yesterday, he added something new to that, something rather wild to consider. Hint - this is the part that involves the P-Rade.

The event itself is meant to give the newbies a sense of what to expect, what pitfalls there might be, how to avoid those pitfalls. There were introductions of the members of what Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan refers to as "The Team Around The Team," something she's upfront about having swiped from men's volleyball coach Sam Shweisky.

It's the end of a long run of orientation activities, and it's the lead up to the start of classes. Marcoux Samaan's message is to "control the controllables" and then not to let stress overwhelm you about everything else.

Marcoux Samaan also showed team pictures from her playing days here, with the women's hockey and women's soccer teams. When TB first saw the pictures, he was pretty sure, though not 100 percent sure, he could pick her out. He turned out to be right.

There were a few other pictures displayed as well.

Mostly, those featured alums. Former athletes, like Chris Young, David Hale, Ross Ohlendorf and Will Venable, who were all active Major Leaguers at the time they spoke at a Princeton Varsity Club event. There were several pictures like that. Gary Walters, Marcoux Samaan's predecessor, was in one of them.

There were others too. Steve Mills, the president of the New York Knicks. Bill Powers, the benefactor of Powers Field at Princeton Stadium. Chanel Lattimer, a former track and field athlete and an all-time great Office of Athletic Communications student worker. Ralph DeNunzio, Bill Ford, Janet Morrison Clarke. John Berger. Frank Sowinski. So many who have given so much of their time and resources to make the experience for the athletes better.

And as TB looked at those pictures, he began to think beyond the senior athlete banquet. He began to think about when this group would become alums, and then become the ones who help the generations to come.

He thought of them in the P-Rade, perhaps on their 50th reunion, which would be the P-Rade of 2071, as opposed to the current year of 2017. That's sort of freaky, no?

Anyway, TigerBlog was getting way ahead of things with that one. Well, not really.

The trip that they're all starting to take together now leads directly to things like that. It was Courtney Banghart, the women's basketball coach, who told the group that the next four years will fly by. She's right.

Not that the Class of 2021 will be at its 50th in a blink of an eye. But time does move quickly sometimes.

Best of luck to all of them. Hopefully, they have a winning, satisfying, educational experience as Princeton athletes - like so many who've come before them have. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

16 Years Later

TigerBlog can remember every detail of that awful day 16 years ago today.

He remembers most of the details of the day after, 16 years ago tomorrow.

He wishes that he could remember the day before, back to Sept. 10, 2001. He wishes he could remember what he was thinking on that day, what his world was like on that day, because that world changed forever on Sept. 11 and has never come back.

Each year since Sept. 11, 2001, TigerBlog has gotten an uneasy feeling in the hours before the next anniversary. This year is no different.

The date is enough to bring it all rushing back.

TigerBlog has gone through this pretty much each year he's been doing this. It's important though. It's important not to let what happened on that day ever fade in importance.

The only day in American history that can compare with Sept. 11, 2001, is Dec. 7, 1941. That's the day that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, bringing the United States into World War II.

Yes, there have been battles in wars that have featured unimaginable death totals. Nearly 10 times more American soldiers were killed in the Battle of Normandy (the entire battle, not just D-Day) in World War II than died on 9/11.

As for 9/11 or Pearl Harbor, though, those were direct attacks on America, not overseas (yes, Hawaii was not yet a state in 1941).

Now, nearly 76 years after the Pearl Harbor attack, the day Dec. 7 still lives, as FDR said it would, in infamy. It just doesn't haunt the national consciousness the way 9/11 does.

Part of that is because the vast majority of Americans who were alive 76 years ago no longer are. The other, though, is that it would take less than four years for the U.S. and its Allies to defeat the Axis powers.

The aftermath of 9/11 has been anything quite so tidy. There are still military operations as a direct result of 9/11, and even though Al Qaeda never launched another massive attack in this country, the threat is still there.

Like TigerBlog said, the world of Sept. 10 vanished and has never come back. In so many ways.

TigerBlog knows people who saw 9/11 from so many different angles. Everyone has a story to tell from that day.

TB has friends who were on airplanes at the time of the attacks and landed nowhere near New York, as all flights were immediately grounded. They had to try to rent cars to drive home, including one who was on a flight to Newark that landed instead in Nashville, from where he drove home.

He knows another who landed at Newark around the time that the flight that would crash in Pennsylvania after the passengers fought back against the hijackers was leaving and saw the Towers burning as she drove down the New Jersey Turnpike.

He knows another who was unaware of the attacks until, after being told about them, looked out the window at home on Long Island and saw the smoke from the Twin Towers. FatherBlog was in his office in midtown, four or so miles from ground zero.

Princeton had more than its share of graduates, a lot of them athletes, who were in one of the towers at the time.

As for TigerBlog, he was dropping off TigerBlog Jr. at the University League Nursery School, on the far side of the parking lot outside Jadwin. It was the most perfect weather day, crystal clear, sunshine, no humidity, not a cloud to be found.

TB dropped TBJ off at the school, and the woman who was the office manager said that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center.

TigerBlog walked outside, looked up, and thought "how in the world did that happen?" By the time he got to Jadwin, he found out how.

Most of that day was spent huddled around the only television around, the one in the athletic training room in Caldwell Field House. It was a day where people spoke very little, where everyone had dazed looks on their faces.

By mid-afternoon, he went back to get TBJ at the nursery school. He can still see the children, swinging on the swings, playing in a sandbox, oblivious - happily oblivious - to what had happened to the innocence of the world outside that playground.

Later that night, after it was dark, TigerBlog walked outside to the end of his driveway and looked up. There were no planes in the sky. They'd all been grounded. TB remembers it vividly, the sight of the stars, without planes, above a world of confusion, angst, uncertainty, fear.

Those were TB's memories. They come rushing back each year on this day, and they bring with them all of those emotions all over again. It's important that it does. This isn't a day that should ever fade from anyone's memory.

All of those children from the playground have grown up. Miss TigerBlog was 1 at the time. She's a high school senior. That means that basically anyone who is younger than a high school junior wasn't even alive on that day. They need to understand what happened.

The next day, TigerBlog was able to track down former Princeton football captain Dan Swingos, who had been in the second tower but managed to get out. He told TigerBlog a wild story of survival, and luck, one shared by so many others who'd been there at the time.

TigerBlog tells this story each year. He'll continue to do so.

He'll also continue to remember all of the people who were lost that day, the ones who didn't get out, or the ones on the planes.

It's a group that includes John Schroeder, a member of the 1992 men's lacrosse team that won the first of the program's six NCAA championships. He'd been in the World Trade Center and did not get out.

Anytime that TigerBlog has been around the men's lacrosse Class of 1992, no matter what the occasion or celebration, they remember their teammate. They talk about him. They include him in whatever they're doing. They keep his memory alive.

It's been 16 years now.

It seems like yesterday. The memories are vivid, for TigerBlog and everyone else.

And those lost - like John Schroeder - are still missed.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Reinforcing The Message

TigerBlog has been meaning to tell you this story all week.

So Miss TigerBlog went to the "Made in America" concert in Philadelphia last weekend. She came back like a "drowned rat" after the first night. On the second night, TigerBlog got a text message from a number he didn't know, saying it was MTB and she'd lost her phone.

What do you do in that situation? TigerBlog called MTB's number.

It rang. And then a male voice answered. It turned out to be Steve.

Who's Steve? No idea. Just the kid who answered the phone that he found.

Ah, but Steve did better than just say he had the phone. He told TB that MTB's phone had only five percent of its battery left, so he gave TB his number to call him back on. Sure enough, TigerBlog called and Steve answered.

TigerBlog then texted MTB on her friend's phone. She then coordinated with Steve, who returned her phone to her. How did TigerBlog find this out? Steve texted him. MTB? She replied about an hour later to TB's text.

Steve, on the other hand, said "no problem. I'd want someone to do the same for me if I lost my phone."

So how about a nice round of applause for Steve, the MVP of the "Made in America" concert.

Nice little story, right?

TigerBlog spent yesterday morning at the Department of Athletics "Welcome Back" staff meeting. It's an annual event, the first time post-Labor Day when the entire department assembles, even though games have already been played.

One of the best parts of the meeting is when the new staff members are introduced. Head coaches will introduce new assistants. Administrators will introduce junior members.

Matt Madalon, the men's lacrosse coach, introduced Jeremy Hirsch, the new defensive coordinator. Jeremy is a former Princeton defenseman, Class of 2010. Madalon mentioned that Jeremy is one of two Princeton alums who are currently full-time Division I men's lacrosse coaches.

At first, TigerBlog couldn't think of the other one. He's embarrassed to say that it took him probably two minutes until it came to him - Brian Kavanagh, a former Tiger goalie, who is at the University of Vermont.

In all, there were 20 new staff members. TigerBlog actually thinks that number was a bit low compared to most years.

That's a pretty good turnover from year to year. It's visible mostly in the photo collages that Phyllis Chase, the former travel coordinator, used to make of the holiday party each December, and now in the staff photo that is taken each year after the kickoff meeting. There was a 2017-18 version taken yesterday.

TigerBlog has been here for a long time. So have many others.

At the same time, there's always the new group. They're young. They're just starting out. For the most part, they won't be here for the long haul. Some will, but most will be here a few years and move on in their careers. It's the nature of college athletics.

As a result, it's important that Princeton do a good job of explaining to the new people what the values of the department are, and, at the same time reinforce them for everyone else. That's the main purpose of the meeting, other than it's also one of those rare times that the entire group gets together.

So what does Princeton stand for? The department operates on under the ideals of "Education Through Athletics" and "Achieve, Serve, Lead."

As these suggest, Princeton Athletics is about providing for its athletes the opportunity to compete at a high level, a championship level, while also understanding that there is more to college athletics than just winning. It's about the entire overall experience.

Princeton wants its athletes to be an extension of the student body as a whole. It wants its athletes to understand the incredible opportunity they have been given to attend a school like Princeton and therefore understand their responsibility as students, as well as athletes.

It wants its athletes to buy into the University's commitment to service. It wants its athletes to be invested in proper nutrition and sleep and other areas that aid in high performance.

Princeton is about learning lessons through athletics that extend well beyond playing a sport here. Teamwork. Leadership. Time management. Sacrificing individual desires for the betterment of the entire team, and organization.

When Princeton athletes leave here, the hope is that they had such a great experience that they'll stay invested in the programs for whom they competed for the rest of their lives. Not all will, but an incredibly high number do. That's something that should never be taken for granted. 

These are words that are easy to say. They're harder to live by. It's important, though, to set really high standards.

As Pete Carril once said, "when you lower your standards, they turn around and attack you." He's right about that.

That's why it's important to constantly talk about them. And to have a room full of people, like yesterday, who buy into them.

It's what makes Princeton special.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Soccer Time

If you take a quick look at the current Division I women's soccer rankings, you'll notice a few things that look a bit off.

First, Wake Forest moved up a spot from last week, going from 18 to 17. Second, Wake is listed as 5-0-0.

And then there's Princeton, in the others receiving votes category, tied with Texas in the 28th spot.

Actually, before TigerBlog gets to that, he'll mention that this is the United Soccer Coaches poll. If you do a search for "National Soccer Coaches Association of America," which had been the organization behind national and regional rankings since TigerBlog first started following such things, you'll find that it's now called the United Soccer Coaches.

The website even says this: "New Look. New Name. Same Mission."

Anyway, Wake Forest is 5-1-0, not 5-0-0, after having lost to Princeton 2-0. Ah, but that game was played Monday, not Sunday, and as such it isn't reflected in the current week's rankings.

Back in 2004, Princeton went 19-3-0, beating Central Connecticut, Villanova, Boston College and Washington in the NCAA tournament before falling to UCLA in the national semifinals, making that team the only Ivy League women's soccer team ever to reach the Final Four and the only Ivy League team in any sport ever to reach the Final Four in a 64-team tournament.

Even those Tigers didn't beat Wake Forest. That was one of the Tigers' two regular season losses that season - the other was to Colgate. 

It's been quite a start for the current women's soccer team. The resume after four games is like this:

* a 4-0-0 record
* zero goals allowed
* outscored its opponents 9-0
* a sweep of North Carolina State (ranked 20th last week) and Wake Forest on the road
* three of four games away from home

Yeah, that's quite a start.

Had the game against Wake counted towards this week's rankings, Princeton might have found itself in the Top 25. On the other hand, in what is still somewhat early September, that doesn't really matter much.

As TB said, Princeton has played three of its four games to date on the road. The men's team has played both of its games on the road.

All that changes rapidly, beginning today.

At 4 on Mylsik Field at Roberts Stadium, it'll be the Princeton men against Seton Hall, followed by the women against West Virginia at 7.This will be the start of a massive September of soccer at Princeton's beautiful facility.

The women will be play five home games between today and Sept. 23 - Rider tonight, New Hampshire Sunday, West Virginia next Friday (the 15th), Delaware two days after that and then Yale on Saturday the 23rd.

The men are home tonight and then next Friday as well, in the second game of another doubleheader, when SIU-Edwardsville is here. The Cougars won an NCAA tournament game last year, by the way.

And then, after all those women's games, the men host Rutgers on the 26th.

If you add it all together, that's five women's games and three men's games at Princeton, in a 19-day stretch that begins tonight. Admission to every one of those games, by the way, is free.

The women play a Rider team that is 0-4-0 tonight and then a 4-2-0 New Hampshire team Sunday.

Looming beyond is West Virginia, a team whose goal this year is to at least equal what the Princeton women did in 2004 and possibly go a step or even two steps beyond that.

West Virginia is ranked third this week. The Mountaineers have already defeated Georgetown when the Hoyas were ranked fifth and Penn State when the Nittany Lions were ranked No. 1.

The game between West Virginia and Princeton women - and later Princeton-Rutgers men - will be televised on ESPNU. Hopefully they'll be on perfect weather nights with huge crowds.

One way to get to the NCAA tournament is to have a really, really high RPI. As of now, no RPI rankings have been released. If you're a Princeton fan, root for NC State and Wake the rest of the way.

And, if Princeton could beat West Virginia, that would really help that cause.

The other way to get to the NCAA tournament is with an automatic bid. There's a long way to go to see who gets that prize from the Ivy League.

There are currently two unbeaten women's soccer teams in the league. Princeton is one. Yale is the other. Yale, you might recall, is Princeton's Ivy opener, on the 23rd, which as of now clearly looks like a big one.

Of course, there is a ton of soccer to be seen here between now and then. Beginning tonight.

Remember, it's the men at 4 against Seton Hall and the women at 7 against Rider. And it's free.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Amazing Comeback And Princeton

TigerBlog felt badly about not starting out yesterday with the women's soccer team.

After all, the Tigers are off to an amazing start.

Still, TB wanted to talk college football yesterday, so he figured he'd start out today with women's soccer. And while technically he has, he'll get back to that in a second.

First, there's the little matter of someone named "Nassau83." Well, that's not exactly the person's actual name. It's the name that TigerBlog has seen on message boards before. The assumption, of course, is that it's a Princeton grad, Class of 1983. Or possibly someone who wore the No. 83 at Princeton, but that's more of a longshot.

Actually, TigerBlog wonders if he's ever met "Nassau83." Ah, but that's not the point.

"Nassau83" is the author of a comment yesterday that mentions something that TigerBlog never knew to be true. UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen, who engineered one of the greatest comebacks football has ever seen the other night with his four-TD fourth-quarter against Texas A&M, is the son of Princeton women's lacrosse player?

Who knew this?

Rosen's bio on the UCLA website says that his mother, Elizabeth Lippincott, was an all-league lacrosse player at Princeton.

It's true. Lippincott, known as "Wiz," was a 1981 and 1982 first-team All-Ivy League selection. She also won the, as "Nassau83" said, the Emily Goodfellow and Women's Lacrosse Awards, two major Princeton team awards, her senior year of 1982. She was also the captain of the 1982 Tigers, the only captain that year.

 The first year that there was a women's lacrosse team at Princeton was 1973. The first year of an All-Ivy League team for women's lacrosse was 1980.

Think of all the great early women's lacrosse players in the league who never had a chance to be recognized with something so simple as "all-league." TigerBlog wonders what it was like administratively back then, when it was simply understood, it seems, that men's sports would take priority over women's.

He has no way of knowing this, but he assumes that it was the women's coaches who drove the league to start down the path of equality on something as basic as having an all-league team. Or were it the earliest women's administrators? What they had to fight for was extraordinary.

Really, it's hard to picture it. TigerBlog has spent decades working in Ivy sports, and he has spent way more time than he could possibly guess in meetings of all kinds, discussing every possible aspect of Princeton sports. At no point in any of those meetings has TB ever found himself in a situation where someone even remotely suggested that something be done for the men but not the women based simply on gender.

Not once.

It's hard to imagine that not even 10 years before he started covering Princeton sports, such decisions were still in effect. Maybe he can ask one of the players on the first All-Ivy women's lacrosse team what she remembers about. There was a player from Harvard named Chris Sailer who was first-team in 1980 and 1981. Maybe she knows something.

Speaking of Sailer, she's been the women's lacrosse coach here for 31 years. Did you realize that Princeton has had only three women's lacrosse coaches in its history - Penny Hinckley for five years, Betty Logan for nine and now Sailer. That's fairly amazing.

Perhaps TB should track her down.

The comment from "Nassau83" mentions that Lippincott was an outstanding figure skater, along with Treby Williams, the University's Executive Vice President. Rosen's UCLA bio goes one further, mentioning that his parents - his father is a Penn grad and orthopedic surgeon - were actually U.S. national champions in ice dancing, which, by the way, TB thinks is more entertaining than pairs figure skating.

Lippincott's son put on quite a show the other night, especially in the second half, and really in the fourth quarter. He spent the entire first half getting beaten up and then in the second half was incredible.

It doesn't matter what he does the rest of the year. All people will remember is what happened on opening night, especially Jets fans, who were drooling over USC quarterback Sam Darnold, until they saw Rosen.

And his mother is a Princetonian. Even better. Darnold's mother went to Long Beach City College, where she played volleyball, by the way.

And that's it for today.

What? Oh year. Women's soccer.

Well, apologies again to the Tigers. They had a great weekend, beating two top 20 schools on the road.

But tomorrow they have a home game, against Rider, on the back end of a doubleheader, after the men play Seton Hall at 4.

TigerBlog promises to talk women's soccer tomorrow. And hopefully many other times as the year goes along.

It's certainly been a great start.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Rosen And Olson

The college football season is underway, in case you didn't happen to stumble on one of the approximately 1,000 games that were on TV this past weekend.

Once the Ivy League football season starts, and with all of the games that Princeton's fall teams play on your average Saturday for the next two-plus months, TigerBlog won't get a chance to watch endless college football, like he could this past weekend.

Not that he watched all that much. The point is that he could have.

College football was everywhere on television. Are the powers that be worried about over-saturation of their product? If they are, you can't tell by the schedule in Week 1, and it'll only get bigger and bigger as the season goes along.

It all started at noon Saturday, when there were nine games on TB's television. That doesn't even count all the games that were on ESPN3 or streamed elsewhere.

For all of the college football this weekend, there were really only two players who stood out. One was Josh Rosen. The other was Jake Olson.

Let's start with Rosen, UCLA's quarterback. Are these good passing numbers: 19 for 26, 294 yards, four touchdowns?

Yeah? Because that was Rosen's fourth quarter against Texas A&M Sunday night. yeah. His fourth quarter.

Of course, UCLA needed all of those yards and TDs. The Bruins trailed 44-10 in the third quarter before Rosen brought the Bruins back, all the way back, for a 45-44 victory.

The largest comeback in college football history was 35 points. This was only 34. Of course, any conversation about comebacks has to include Princeton's 50-49 win over Penn in men's basketball at the Palestra in 1999, but hey, why digress right now?

TigerBlog was hardly paying attention to the UCLA game after it become a blowout. He was mostly seeing Rosen being pitied on Twitter for having to stand out there and get beaten up like that.

Then all of the sudden, he started the comeback. TB didn't even turn it on until it was 44-38 and Rosen with the ball for the last time as he took his team to the win, converting a fourth-and-6 along the way after a sure, certain first-down pass on third down had been dropped. He even did the fake spike on the game winner.

It's going to be hard to top that one as the best individual performance of the year by a player. In fact, TB will go out on a wild limb and say nobody will.

The play of the year might also have happened in Week 1, and it also happened in Southern California. That's where Olson comes in.

Olson was the long snapper for USC. The Trojans scored a late touchdown against Western Michigan to go up 48-31, and Olson came on to be the snapper for the extra point for the first time in his career. And his snap was good, leading to a 49-31 final.

Play of the year? Well, if you consider that Olson is completely blind, yes, it is. Read about it HERE.

You probably already heard about that of course. There's more to the story than just the USC part, of course. The official who started the play deserves a lot of credit for how he handled it, as do the Western Michigan coaches and players, especially the ones on the field at the time.

It'll make you teary a bit if you watch it again.

Anyway, that was a big Week 1 for college football.

For Princeton, Week 1 for the football season is in two Saturdays. This is always the toughest week for Ivy League players, TB supposes, in that now everyone is playing, but you still have another non-game week to go.

Princeton opens its season against San Diego, on Sept. 16 an Powers Field at noon.

If you want to buy tickets in person, by the way, you have to go out to the football stadium to do it. The ticket office in Jadwin Gym is now closed, as part of the Jadwin lobby renovation project. As a result, the ticket office has been relocated for the time being to the ticket booth in the football stadium.

San Diego opened its season this past weekend with a 34-20 win over Western New Mexico. Up next is UC-Davis, before the trip to Princeton the following weekend.

Lafayette, Princeton's Week 2 opponent, lost 31-12 to Monmouth this weekend. The Leopards next host Sacred Heart this Saturday and then are at Villanova before hosting the Tigers. By the way, TigerBlog will be rooting for Sacred Heart in this weekend's game, for obvious reasons.

Georgetown, the other non-league opponent for Princeton, opens this weekend.

The later start for Ivy League football is part of the culture of the league. It's just how it is.

Besides, the 2017 season at Princeton should be worth waiting for. The Tigers were the best team in the league last year, earning a share of the title with Penn but owning a 28-0 win over the Quakers. Princeton also had the No. 1 offense and No. 1 defense in the league.

With the start of a new season will come a chance to see whatever new wrinkles will be part of what is already the most unique offense in the sport, with its multiple quarterbacks on pretty much every play.

Besides, a week from Saturday will be here soon enough.

In the meantime, you can watch the next 1,000 games on TV next weekend. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

More Opening Days

Well, if you go back pretty much exactly 12 years to the day, you can find a picture of Miss TigerBlog and her friend Wiki on the first day of kindergarten.

They were at the same bus stop, two little wide-eyed girls getting on the school bus for the first time. In their elementary school, kindergarten kids wear a little pin on their clothes for the first few days with their name and teacher's name, in case they get lost. It's cute.

Each year since on the first day of school, MTB and Wiki stood next to each other for a picture. Every single year. Even through middle school, when they first learned to roll their eyes. And all the way through high school, even though the idea of taking yet another picture was "sooooooo embarrassing."

Yesterday was the last of those pictures. It was the first day of senior year, and the two of them stood next to each other yet again, for the last of the first day of school pictures. It was nice, and it was a tad bittersweet.

Unlike the five year olds who got on the bus all those years ago, MTB and Wiki posed for their picture and then got into their cars and drove off to school. Times change. And goes by quickly.

One day you're in kindergarten. The next you're a high school senior. At least there are all those pictures as a reminder.

So that was yesterday's opening day. Today's opening day is much more Princeton-centric.

The women's soccer team opened its season with a sweep last weekend against Monmouth and Villanova. This weekend the Tigers are at North Carolina State (tonight at 8) and at Wake Forest (Sunday at 1), both of whom are unbeaten and ranked in the top 20.

You can see both of those games, by the way, on ESPN3.

Ah, but TigerBlog is talking opening days today. And that applies to three other Princeton teams today and then another one tomorrow.

Of the four teams who are starting their seasons this weekend, three of them are doing it on the road. TB will start with them.

The men's soccer team is in Central New York this weekend for the, well, Central New York Classic. It starts today with a game at Syracuse at 3 and then concludes at Colgate Sunday at 4, if you happen to be in Central New York.

There are two things about Syracuse men's soccer that TigerBlog didn't realize before he read the story about the game. First, Syracuse is ranked eighth in the country. That's not all that stunning.

The other is. Princeton and Syracuse have never met in men's soccer before. Syracuse has been playing since 1920. Princeton has been playing since 1938. The two have never played before?

Of course it's not like Princeton and Colgate have gone at it every year either. This will be just the fourth time the Tigers and Raiders have played.

The first meeting between Princeton and Colgate was played in 2007. Where was that game played? It was played on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium, in the year when Lourie-Love Field was torn down and Roberts Stadium was built.

By the way, both Syracuse and Colgate are coming off of NCAA tournament appearances, so Princeton is really jumping into the deep end to start the season.

Speaking of jumping into pools, the men's water polo team starts the 2017 season at the Navy Invitational. The first game is tomorrow at 10:30, against Salem International.

Princeton, ranked 11th nationally in the preseason, also plays Fordham and La Salle tomorrow and then Navy Sunday.

The women's volleyball team begins its season today, four hours before the men's soccer team does, when it plays at Boston College at 11. Then it's North Texas at 5 and Bryant tomorrow at 2.

Princeton has won two straight Ivy League women's volleyball championships. The 2016 season ended with a strong showing in the opening round of the NCAA tournament against BYU, and the 2017 Tigers are among the league favorites yet again.

The other team to get started today is the field hockey team. How's this for an opening weekend: the No. 1 team in the country Friday and then the defending NCAA champion Sunday.

Princeton, who reached the Final Four a year ago, takes on North Carolina, the No. 1-ranked team in the country, this afternoon at 4 on Bedford Field. Then, right after that, it's a game at Delaware Sunday at 1:30.

Delaware, by the way, beat Princeton in the semifinals a year ago before beating North Carolina in the championship game.

And, of course, it's no longer August. Once again, another August has zoomed by.

Now it's September. The campus already has a completely different feel to it.

Very, very shortly, classes will be underway. Then it will be August again. And then MTB and Wiki will be, wait, what? College students?

What the heck?