Friday, October 13, 2017

Thoughts, On CAANJ And Football

You know what's in the back of TigerBlog's car?

The 2016-17 College Athletic Administrators of New Jersey Cup, which TigerBlog accepted on behalf of Princeton yesterday. Princeton was honored for having the highest finishing Division I team in the state of New Jersey in the Learfield Sports Directors' Cup.

Olivia Hompe, the all-time leading scorer in lacrosse at Princeton, was named the Division I Female Scholar Athlete of the Year at the same awards luncheon.

Princeton wins the Division I CAANJ Cup every year. The award used to be based on a points system, and now it goes to the top finisher in the Directors' Cup standings. There are Cups for junior college, Division III, Division I and now, awarded for the first time yesterday, Division II.

TigerBlog used to be the president of the College Athletic Administrators of New Jersey. There are 44 colleges who play sports in New Jersey across all levels, and five conferences have their offices in New Jersey.

That's a lot of athletes who compete in this state. They do so from vastly different perspectives, on very different campuses. Their common denominator is intercollegiate competition, and with that comes all of the benefits that college athletics brings - the life lessons that collectively make up what Princeton likes to call "Education Through Athletics."

TigerBlog accepted the award for Princeton yesterday from the current CAANJ president, Stevens Tech Director of Athletics Russell Rogers, who had just read an introduction that covered Princeton's athletic success from the past academic year.

When TB said a few words, he mentioned that athletic success is something that should never be taken for granted. Neither is the opportunity to be part of a University as unique and special as Princeton.

Yes, TB said, Princeton has a great advantage in resources and history and tradition, and of course, there's the "Princeton University" piece itself. But athletic success or any other kind of success is something that has to constantly be earned. If you start thinking it's just going to happen, that's when it's going to stop.

He also talked about the organization as a whole - thanking Terry Small of the New Jersey Athletic Conference, who does so much to keep it going - and about what he mentioned above, how the values that comprise Education Through Athletics are shared by so many athletes on so many campuses in the state and how much respect TB has for those who are combining their academic careers with their athletic ones in such positive ways.

Maybe it's because he was so actively involved in the organization, but TigerBlog always enjoys the CAANJ banquet each October.

The weather, by the way, finally started to feel like October yesterday, though it's supposed to get back into the 80s Sunday. Despite the fact that it's been shorts weather since school started, this weekend is the midpoint of the Ivy League football season, and it's been a rather unpredictable one to say the least.

The three presumptive preseason favorites - Princeton, Harvard and Penn - are a combined 1-3 in the league, while Dartmouth and Columbia are the lone unbeatens in the league. There are two league games this weekend: Princeton is at Brown and Penn is at Columbia.

Princeton and Penn finished last season tied for first (though, as TB recalls, Princeton beat Penn 28-0 during the year). This year, neither can afford another loss this early.

Or can they?

Should Princeton or Penn lose, that would be two league losses. In most years, that would be season-ending. This year? Who knows?

The top team in the league seems to change almost possession by possession, let alone week by week. Nothing that happens the rest of the year will be shocking. Seriously, any team can beat any other team.

What does this mean for Princeton?

The Tigers are at Brown tomorrow and then Harvard a week from tonight. And then home against Cornell, who beat Harvard last weekend. Princeton is 0-1 after being stunned late by Columbia, but the Lions are 4-0 overall now.

What it means is that each game is big, no game is a sure thing and no game is unwinnable. Princeton, like every other Ivy team, is looking for some consistency and the chance to start to string some W's together.

After this weekend, each team in the league will be done with its three non-league games (including Dartmouth at Sacred Heart tomorrow). After that, it'll be five league games for each team in the last five games.

What will be the record of the league champ this year? It's almost never 5-2, not since 1982 anyway (Princeton did win at 5-1-1 in 1995), but this year seems a little more unpredictable than most.

In Ivy League football, no game can be taken for granted. 

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