Monday, November 30, 2020

Jersey Tigers

TigerBlog hopes you had a great Thanksgiving weekend.

This is the longest he goes each year without writing here. It's the four days of Thanksgiving weekend.

Did you miss him?

TB starts out this Monday with something from last week. It came from Noah Savage, the Princeton men's basketball alum and current outstanding color commentator. 

Savage, in addition to doing Princeton games and ESPN games, is also a comedian. He has started a series on YouTube of his golfing prowess, or lack thereof, that's pretty funny.

You can see it HERE.

For today's purposes, though, Savage is the straight man to another Princeton men's basketball alum, Savage's former teammate Scott Greenman. Savage posted on Twitter a picture of him from high school, when he drove to the basket against future NBA player Luol Dang.

Savage mentioned that the layup ended up hitting the wall, the implication that Dang blocked it with great ferocity.

Enter Greenman, with the perfect response:

That's funny stuff.

Greenman, by the way, is an assistant coach at American, under another former Tiger, Mike Brennan. 

Savage, Greenman and Brennan all grew up in New Jersey. It got TB to wondering about New Jersey players at Princeton.

For instance, do you know who Oliver deGray Vanderbilt was? It's okay, neither did TB until a few seconds ago.

Oliver was the first Princeton men's basketball player to be named an All-American. He was actually part of the first ever All-American team, the one from the 1904-05 season. 

Ol' Oliver was part of a Princeton team that went 8-5 that year. He averaged 5.9 points per game for a team that averaged 26.5 per game.

If you take the most recent Princeton men's basketball team, the one from 2019-20, those Tigers averaged 71.5 per game, which is 2.7 times as many as the 1904-05 team. If you take Vanderbilt's average and multiply it by 2.7, you get 15.8 per game.

Anyway, Vanderbilt came to Princeton from Brick, by the Jersey Shore.

Princeton has had 11 different players win the Ivy League Player of the Year award. Of that group, four were New Jersey natives - Frank Sowinski, Bob Scrabis, Brian Earl and Spencer Weisz. A fifth, Armond Hill, spent a postgraduate year at the Lawrenceville School.

Of the non-New Jersey winners, there were four states with one player and one state with two players. Can you name the state that had multiple winners?

Princeton has had three Ivy League Defensive Players of the Year, and two of them were from New Jersey: Myles Stephens and Amir Bell.

The best Princeton men's basketball player ever to come from New Jersey?

That would be Perth Amboy's Brian Taylor, who granted only played two varsity seasons before going to the ABA. Despite that, Taylor ranks 15th all-time at Princeton with 1,239 career points (five New Jersey players are ahead of him)

Taylor's numbers at Princeton are exceeded only by Bill Bradley's, which is saying something. In fact, Bradley is the only Princeton player to score more points in a season than Taylor.

Bradley ranks 1-2-3 in points in a season (and points per game in a season). Taylor ranks 4-5, and he came within six points of tying Bradley for third.

Taylor averaged 25.0 points per game as a junior in 1971-72, after averaging 23.5 as a sophomore in 1970-71. 

Taylor went on to become the ABA Rookie of the Year the next year with the New York Nets (the forerunner of the NBA's Brooklyn Nets), and he was a two-time ABA champion and ABA all-star. If you don't know what the ABA was, look it up. Better yet, watch some YouTube highlights. It was the most fun basketball ever played.

He would move over the NBA in 1976-77 and average 17 points per game for the Kansas City Kings (now Sacramento). He played in the NBA until the 1981-82 season, and he returned to Princeton a year later to graduate before embarking on a long and successful career in education. 

The only reason he wasn't the Ivy Player of the Year was because there wasn't one yet when he played.

Oh, and the state with more than one Ivy Player of the Year? That state actually produced two players who both won the award twice. That would be Illinois, with Craig Robinson and Kit Mueller.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving

The First50 podcast with Podie Lynch and Carol Brown

The latest in the "First50" podcast series, which celebrates the first 50 years of women's athletics at Princeton, was released today.

This one features two of the great early women athletes at Princeton, Podie Lynch of the Class of 1971 and Carol Brown of the Class of 1975. The podcast series is moderated by Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan, with some help from TigerBlog.

Lynch, who played tennis, was the only letterwinner in the first class to participate in women's athletics. 

She went from Concord Academy outside of Boston to Bennett College, which was a two-year college in Millbrook, N.Y., that has since closed, in 1967. Lynch played field hockey, basketball and tennis there, serving as team captain for field hockey and tennis. She also was the president of the student government, not to mention the top student in her class. 

From there she was part of the first group of women to attend Princeton, in the fall of 1969.

There were 39 women in her class, along with 840 men. With five younger brothers (including her brother Vinnie, who was a soccer and hockey player in the Class of 1972), she was fairly well prepared.

Brown's own story is also fascinating.

She came to Princeton from Illinois, where there was an actual state law that prevented girls from competing in high school sports. Her only athletic experience pre-Princeton was as a summer swimmer at a local club, and she spent most of her high school time in the musical world, playing four instruments.

What happened when she came to Princeton? She became part of the first rowing team and the first swimming and diving team. 

She'd end up winning a national championship as part of the 1973 200-freestyle relay, setting an American record in the process. She did even better in rowing, where she went from never having been in a boat to winning a bronze medal at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.

So that's the fourth edition of the podcast.

Tomorrow is obviously Thanksgiving Day. This one is a bit different than most years, like everything else in the COVID world. 

Hopefully everyone has the best – and safest – Thanksgiving possible, and hopefully at this time next year, things are back to normal.

As with every other year, TB offers you his thoughts on his favorite holiday:

As holidays go, you can't do much better than Thanksgiving. It's got it all, really: a huge meal (with turkey, no less), football, family, history (dates back to 1621), start of a four-day weekend for most people, leftovers. It's even a secular holiday, so every American can dive right in, regardless of religion.

The Lions and the Cowboys, obviously, always play at home on Thanksgiving, and the NFL has now added a third game (maybe a little too much). Beyond watching football, how many out there have played their own Thanksgiving football games, all of which, by the way, are named "the Turkey Bowl?"

The holiday may lag behind Christmas in terms of great Hollywood movies, and "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" is no match for "A Charlie Brown Christmas" or "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." Still, there are some great moments in movies and TV shows around Thanksgiving.

Rocky and Adrian had their first date on Thanksgiving – "To you it's Thanksgiving; to me it's Thursday," Rocky said romantically – as did Meadow and Jackie Jr. on "The Sopranos" (it didn't quite work out as well as it did for Rocky and Adrian). "Everybody Loves Raymond" had two pretty good Thanksgiving episodes, the one where Marie makes a low-fat dinner and the one where Debra makes fish instead of turkey. As an aside, TigerBlog's Aunt Regina once made Cornish game hens instead of turkey, so he knows how they all felt. And of course, there was the Thanksgiving episode of "Cheers," which has the big food fight at the end.

The Woody Allen movie "Hannah and Her Sisters" starts and ends on two different Thanksgivings. "Miracle on 34th Street" is a Christmas movie, but it does start with the Thanksgiving parade in New York City.

And of course, there is the best of all Thanksgiving movies: "Planes, Trains and Automobiles." It'll make you laugh a lot and cry a little, and it ends on Thanksgiving.

TB wishes everyone a great holiday and hopes that maybe you take a few minutes to think about what you really are thankful for these days.

Happy Thanksgiving, Tigers.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The 1964 Summer Olympics

One of TigerBlog's favorite channels is the Olympic channel.

He likes to watch the documentaries on each of the various Olympiads, with all of the different events, highlights and backstories. Most of them have the same narrator, the one with the deep, completely unemotional voice.

The show that TB stumbled on yesterday morning was from the 1964 Summer Games in Tokyo. These games were just a bit before his time in terms of TV viewing, though he had already been born by that point.

When TB turned it on, the first highlights he saw were of fencing. After that was judo.

That was followed by basketball. TB was especially interested in that.

Princeton Athletics was well-represented in Tokyo, including by the captain of the U.S. basketball team, Bill Bradley. In fact, Bradley was a Princeton senior when the Games were played, since they actually occurred in October.

And there was Bradley, scoring two baskets and setting up two others for easy layups with assists. It was typical Bill Bradley. 

The 1964 Summer Games actually ended on Oct. 24. According to Wikipedia, the October schedule was due to the mid-summer heat and then the September typhoon season. The 2021 Tokyo Olympics (the ones that were supposed to have been this past summer but were postponed by the COVID pandemic) will be from July 23 through August 8.

Bradley wasn't he only Princetonian in Tokyo in 1964. In fact, there were four Princeton athletes who competed there, and three won medals, including two golds.

Frank Anger fenced there but did not win a medal. Seymore Cromwell won a silver medal in double sculls rowing.

Jed Graef won the gold medal in the 200 backstroke in Tokyo, just a few months after he 1) won the NCAA 200 backstroke and 2) graduated from Princeton. 

Graef won the 200 backstroke in a time of 2:10.3, which was the world record at the time. He led a 1-2-3 American sweep in the event.

Graef's Olympic teammate, Gary Dilley (who swam at Michigan State), set the Olympic record in both the preliminary round and the semifinals, while Graef had the second-best time in both. In the final, Graef edged Dilley by two-tenths of a second, while the bronze medal went to Bob Bennett (a USC grad), who was nearly three seconds behind. 

Graef and Dilley went on to from their swimming careers and returned to school, as Graef earned a Ph.D. in psychology and Dilley became an orthodontist. 

As for the 200 backstroke world record, Graef's record stood for three years. Today, the record is actually 1:51.3, set by American Aaron Peirsol back in 2009.

As for Bradley, he was the captain of a basketball team that went 9-0 and won the gold medal, defeating the previously unbeaten Soviet Union team 73-59. That 14-point win was actually not the closest game the team played, as there was also an eight-point win over Yugoslavia in the preliminary round.

The 1964 U.S. team included Larry Brown, the same Larry Brown who played at North Carolina and went on to a long coaching career in college and the pros, as well as future NBA standouts including Walt Hazzard, Jeff Mullins, Lucious Jackson, Mel Counts and Jim Barnes.

The leading scorer on the team was Jerry Shipp, who was also the oldest player on the team. Shipp, who was 29 years old, graduated from Southeastern Oklahoma State in 1959 but passed on playing professionally to maintain his amateur status (playing for AAU teams) so he could play in the Olympics.

That patience paid off four years later, when was part of the gold medal U.S. team at the Pan Am Games, and then the following year, when he averaged 12.4 points per game to lead the U.S. team in Tokyo. His best game was when he went for 22 against the Yugoslavians.

As for Bradley, to show you the respect he earned, he was voted team captain despite being the youngest player on the U.S. team. Bradley was the second-leading scorer for the U.S. in Tokyo at 10.1 points per game.

He of course returned to Princeton, and five weeks after the gold medal game, he started his senior year with 29 against Lafayette. 

He ended it in March with twice that many in his final college game, setting a Final Four record that still stands with 58 in the third-place game.

Monday, November 23, 2020

The Poe-Kazmaier Trophy

TigerBlog was on his bike in Sandy Hook Saturday afternoon when he got an email from Gary Walters.

It was a perfect afternoon to ride and even nicer at the shore. There wasn't much wind. The sun was shining. The salt water smell off the water brought the usual smile to TB's face.

And of course it was warm, very warm for late November.

What did Gary's email say? It said exactly what TB was thinking.

Essentially, it pointed out that in a non-virus world, Princeton would have been playing Penn in football in the final game of the season. 

Beyond that, TB had already had the same thought that Gary had referenced in his email. The weather on each of the last 10 Saturdays had been nearly perfect for football. 

It just wasn't meant to be in 2020.

With the end of the season, that meant that yesterday would have been the football banquet. What would have been the mood? 

Celebratory after a championship? Appreciative of a good season that just fell a little short? Disappointment? 

TB will guess that given how 2020 figured to unfold for the Tigers, there would be no room for disappointment.

Would linebacker Jeremiah Tyler have won the Poe-Kazmaier Trophy as the team MVP again? Tyler shared the award last year with Kevin Davidson.

Had Tyler won, he would have become only the fifth Princeton football player to win the program's top award more than once. The other three?

Two are easy: John Lovett (2016, 2018) and Dave Patterson (1994, 1995). Who were the other two?

Hint: One was in the two years after Patterson won the award, while the other was long before that.

The 1998 Poe-Kazmaier Trophy was shared by Dan Swingos and Jim Salters. Swingos was the team captain that season, which was the first of the new Princeton Stadium.

TB last spoke to Swingos in the days after 9/11. Back then, Swingos, a defensive lineman, was in the second tower of the World Trade Center to be hit, and he told a harrowing tale of getting out alive, and what he encountered along the way.

As for Salters, he was a linebacker, a slightly undersized one at that. He also was a great player. 

Salters was featured the other day in Steve Verbit's #The40 series on Twitter:

When TB saw that tweet, he immediately texted Princeton head coach Bob Surace to tell him that in TB's opinion, Jim Salters is the most underrated Princeton football player he's seen in all the years he's been around the team. 

Salters was seemingly in on every play. He played with so much joy, and he was a very humble, very soft-spoken player. 

TB hasn't spoken to him in years. It was good to see him in Verb's tweet.

Oh, and the other two-time Poe-Kazmaier Trophy winners? There was Tim Greene, in 1996 and 1997. Another linebacker. And there was Donold Lourie in 1920 and 1921. TB never saw him play.

Here's an interesting fact: Princeton's first two Directors of Athletics (Ken Fairman in 1933 and Royce Flippen in 1955) were Poe-Kazmaier winners.

When TB was looking back at the list of previous winners of the Poe-Kazmaier Trophy, he was struck by something pretty wild.

Jason Garrett won the award in 1988. The next quarterback who won? How about Jeff Terrell in 2006. That's 18 years between having a quarterback win the team MVP award?

In fact, from the time Garrett  won the award in 1988 until Lovett won it for the first time in 2016, a span of 28 years, Princeton has as many offensive linemen win the award as QBs. The offensive lineman was Dennis Norman in 2000.

Anyway, the 2020 season would have ended on a perfect Saturday afternoon for football. It would have been Princeton-Penn on Powers Field Saturday.

And then there would have been the banquet yesterday.

And, of course, in a perfect world?

The weekend would have ended with a bonfire. 

Friday, November 20, 2020

Who's No. 1?

This is the last week of the CoSIDA Fitness Challenge.

TigerBlog's team, the Scrambled Aches, had their final Zoom call of the season yesterday. It's a team that started slowly, finishing last the first two weeks, before rallying in a big way. When the final standings come out, the Aches will be near the top.

The runaway - or in his case, walkaway - winner of the MVP of the event is Princeton's own Warren Croxton, who TigerBlog believes was the individual winner in eight of 10 weeks.

Speaking of Warren, he certainly put in the miles - that's a little joke - for the story he did on the oral history of the 2012 NCAA field hockey championship. You can see that story HERE.

It's a really well done piece. It includes this quote from Molly Goodman:

The morning of the National Championship was – for lack of a better word – a hot mess.

And, of course, this one from Julia Reinprecht:

I was standing over the ball and collapsed. That’s where the dog pile started. I remember being under it all and hoping for some air.

When your national championship day starts with the first one and ends with the second one, you know it's an interesting story. 

The 2012 field hockey championship is one of the greatest moments in the first 50 years of women's athletics at Princeton. As TB has gone down the path of writing his book on those 50 years, he has been asked more than once two questions: 1) who is the greatest woman athlete in Princeton history, and 2) what was the biggest moment in Princeton women's athletic history?

He hasn't answered either, though he's given them both a great deal of thought. At some point, he'll come out with a list. Maybe around when the book comes out in the spring.

These aren't easy questions, not in the least. On the men's side, it's a bit different.

Even though the men competed in intercollegiate athletics for 86 years before the women did, it's easier to narrow down the list of the top athletes. In fact, pretty much everyone would agree that there are three of them: Hobey Baker, Dick Kazmaier and Bill Bradley. 

If you needed to add a fourth to that list, that's where it gets pretty tricky. If you ask 100 knowledgeable Princeton fans to name the top four Princeton male athletes, you'll probably get 95 votes for Bradley, Kazmaier and Baker and then probably 50 different names for the fourth.

Another way of looking at that, by the way, is that if those three are the top three athletes in Princeton history, then a good question would be who is the best Princeton male athlete of the last 50 years? For that alone you'd get a lot of different answers.

The same would be true of the women.  

As for the greatest single moment in Princeton men's athletic history? Again, there are so many possible answers that could be No. 1, depending on perspectives.

As part of the celebration of the anniversary, TigerBlog has been posting book excerpts on the page. He'll be doing this on the third Thursday of each month.

And hey, that's what yesterday was. 

TigerBlog chose to share the piece of the book that focuses on Cathy Corcione, a five-time national swimming champion and the first woman from Princeton to make an Olympic team. Of course, she did so when she was 15, so it was before she was a Princeton student. 

And, since it was the 1968 Summer Games, it was before women were at Princeton.

You can read about Corcione HERE.

When you make a list of the greatest women athletes at Princeton, you have to include her name, certainly in the top 10. 

Like most of the women from the early 1970s - actually like all of the women from that time - Corcione has a great appreciation for the ability to have competed at a place that was famously all-male for 230 years or so before they came along. The timing was perfect.

Of course, it took more than timing to make it happen. It took timing, and the willingness to kick down the doors that stood in the way. From that sort of experience comes an obvious amount of pride.

In fact, this was the last line of the story, a quote from Corcione:

I was lucky enough to be one of the first women ever to be able to swim at Princeton.

That says it pretty well.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

And The Horse You Rode In On

In yesterday's edition, TigerBlog mentioned a photo he'd seen recently of Princeton's 1980 football captain, offensive lineman Mark Bailey.

It was a great picture. Bailey, covered in mud and grass stains, is about to pancake a Columbia defender. In the second before the block is thrown, Bailey is laser-focused on the target, with a scowl on his face visible under his helmet.

For today, TB offers two more pictures. 

First, there's this one:

The player is Peter Smyth, a men's lacrosse player from the Class of 2012. He was a shortstick defensive midfielder and a face-off man.

Smyth's best game as a Tiger, or at least most important, was the 2010 Ivy League tournament final. That was the first year of the Ivy League tournament, and the championship game matched Princeton and Cornell in Ithaca.

Even though it was May, there were snowflurries before the game. 

Princeton had lost three excruciating games to Cornell between the 2009 season and the 2010 regular season. In order, Cornell had 1) knocked off the Tigers in their first game since being ranked No. 1 in 2009, 2) defeated Princeton 6-4 in a brutal NCAA quarterfinal game in 2009 and 3) defeated Princeton 10-9 in the 2010 regular-season finale to deny the Tigers an outright Ivy title.

The rematch in 2010 came a week later in the tournament final. Princeton trailed big early, as it had in the other three games as well, and it was 6-2 Big Red at the break. It was Smyth who helped spark the second-half comeback, going 8 for 12 on face-offs and helping the Tigers to a 19-8 ground ball advantage in the third and fourth quarters after Cornell had won 14 of 15 ground balls in the second quarter alone.

Jack McBride eventually won it 10-9 with one second to go in overtime. It was a great moment in Princeton men's lacrosse history.

As TB thinks back about Smyth, he remembers him as a kid who had a great spirit, a very outgoing kid, one who seemed to always be upbeat. 

In fact that leads him directly to the other picture he wanted to share today, because no matter what, TB will never be able to think about Smyth without this:

That's Smyth on the horse. You want some context?

The picture was taken during the 2012 men's lacrosse trip to Costa Rica. If TB is remembering the timing correctly, the members of the team had just finished refurbishing a community center on a very hot, very humid morning. 

The center was located a few yards from a beach. When the project was finished, everyone relaxed for a little lunch. 

Shortly after that, Smyth arrived, on the above-pictured horse. So did one of his teammates - TB thinks it was Jeff Froccaro. They'd rented them on the beach.

It was pretty funny. It was also about the last thing TB expected to see, Smyth as he rode off the beach back to where the team was on a white horse.

TB and Smyth were emailing yesterday, and Smyth told him something truly extraordinary. Smyth, to whom TB will always think of as a kid himself, will be the father of a son in a few weeks. 

So too, Smyth said, will his teammates Matt Doherty, Tyler Moni and Zach Drexler. That's four people that TB remembers as "kids" who will be having kids of their own.

Smyth referred to them as a coming midfield unit and joked about the Class of 2041. His father Fran, a Princeton lacrosse standout himself and a member of the Class of 1982, probably made similar jokes when Peter was born.

TB congratulated Smyth and then gave him some of his best advice about diapering baby boys. Even as he typed out the words, he was sort of shocked about how he was having this conversation with Peter Smyth.

Then again, he shouldn't have been.

It's what Princeton Athletics are all about. One of TB's favorite things about his time here has been when he does hear from those who have come through the programs he's worked with, and it's always good to hear from them, whether it's been a few years or a few decades

Teammates. Coaches. Apparently staff as well.

Once you're on the same team, you're always on the same team. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Get The Picture

The 2014 Ivy League football season was unique in one respect.

What was it? 

Well, the year 2014 was the only year since the inception of the Ivy League that there was no tie between any two teams in the standings. The league champion finished 7-0, second place was 6-1 and so on down to 0-7 in eighth place.

To make that happen, every team needs to beat the teams behind it and then lose to all the teams in front. Princeton went 4-3 in 2014, losing to Harvard, Dartmouth and Yale - the top three teams - while beating Brown, Penn, Cornell and Columbia.

If you go down the list in that order, you can tell the results of every game that season. In no other Ivy football season has that ever happened.

At the other end of the spectrum, there were five times when teams finished in a four-way tie for a spot in the standings, though it's never happened at the top. There have been two seasons where there was a three-way tie for first in Ivy League football, in 1966 and 1982.

In 1966 it was Princeton, Harvard and Dartmouth who all went 6-1 in the league. Princeton lost that year to Dartmouth but beat Harvard, who in turn beat Dartmouth. 

The other time was in 1982, when Penn, Harvard and Dartmouth all went 5-2. Penn had a miraculous win over Harvard in the second to last week of the season, and if TigerBlog was actually QuakerBlog, he would have written about that game about a thousand times by now.

In short, Penn, which was coming off a four-year stretch that saw the team go 4-33-1, put together a series of wins and then beat Harvard 23-21 on Franklin Field to get to 5-1. That game featured a 20-0 Penn lead in the fourth quarter, a 21-20 Harvard lead with two minutes to go, a game-winning drive that featured a fourth-down conversion on a deflected pass that landed right in the hands of a Penn receiver and then finally the game-winning field goal after a roughing-the-kicker penalty on the first game-winning attempt.

The next week, playing for an outright title, Penn was steamrolled at Cornell.

Those are your two three-way ties for the championship.

One of the four-way ties was in 1976, when Princeton, Cornell, Penn and Columbia all went 2-5 and tied for fifth. Who was Cornell's head coach that year - hint, he coached the Big Red for two years and went a combined 3-15?

Here's another hint - he has five Super Bowl rings, including two as a head coach. 

Give up?  

It was George Seifert, who would go on to coach the San Francisco 49ers to a pair of Super Bowl wins.

Why all this Ivy football history today?

Well, it started when TB received a picture yesterday from Stacie Traube from the football office. The picture was of 1980 captain Mark Bailey, who would be a first-team All-Ivy League offensive lineman that season. 

TB thought the picture was amazing. See for yourself:

If nothing else, you don't want to be No. 45 on Columbia in that picture. TB has seen a million football pictures, and this is one of the best he's ever come across, especially one that doesn't even have the ball in it.
And in the days before FieldTurf, this is what a lot of football games looked like, with dirty, grass-stained uniforms, and much bigger shoulder pads.

Anyway, the 1980 Tigers started out the year with three straight losses before putting together a five-game winning streak. This put Princeton into the game at Yale with at least a chance at an Ivy title, but the Bulldogs would win 25-13. 

The key stretch came when the game went from 10-7 Yale to 18-7 Yale in a few short minutes late in the second quarter. 

That win was, of course, Yale's 14th straight against the Tigers. TB went back and looked in the Daily Princetonian story from that game to see if there were any great quotes about hoping to beat Yale someday, but there weren't any.

There was a quote from Yale running back Rich Diana, who credited his success on the ground that day (165 yards for the future Miami Dolphin/orthopedic surgeon) with the fact that "our offensive line was really juiced." 

Presumably "juiced" in 1980 didn't have the same implications as it might today.

And as you know, Princeton ended that 14-year losing streak a year later at Palmer Stadium in quite dramatic fashion.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

No Wind

"No Wind," by Judd Garrett

TigerBlog has had a book on his coffee table for a few weeks now, just waiting for the opportunity to read it.

The problem has been that he's been pretty busy writing, with five blogs a week, not to mention a book on the first 50 years of women's athletics at Princeton. Those keep him pretty busy.

When he's not writing, he hasn't been all that motivated to be reading. He's been more interested in decompressing.

That whole time his TV has been on, though, that book has been staring at him. And so Saturday afternoon he turned off the Nebraska-Penn State game and started reading. Yesterday he reached Page 414, the end.

The book is "No Wind," the debut novel of Judd Garrett. Yes, that Judd Garrett, the one who was the 1989 Bushnell Cup winner as the Ivy League football Player of the Year, not to mention a first-team All-American, the leader of a team that won the program's first Ivy League title in 20 years and an NFL player, coach and scout.

There's a connection for TigerBlog at least between Garrett's novel and the women's history project.

There are a seemingly endless number of fascinating stories about Princeton women's athletics history and the people who have made it so special. As TB continues down the path of storytelling, he keeps thinking that when he's done, he could scrap the book he's written and start over and come up with another one that has just as many good stories in it.

On the third Thursday of each month, TigerBlog will be posting to (the website for the 50th anniversary celebration) an excerpt from the book. The first one was a month ago, when TB gave you a piece of the chapter on the great Merrily Dean Baker.

You can read that HERE.

This week's excerpt will feature Cathy Corcione, a five-time national collegiate swimming champion (four individual events and one relay), as well as the first Princeton woman to make an Olympic team. In fact, she was on the U.S. team at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, which were held before women were even admitted to Princeton.

Corcione graduated in 1974. Her story will be available Thursday.

What's the connection between this and the novel?

Well, Corcione grew up in Long Branch, at the Jersey Shore. She still lives within a few miles of the house in which she grew up.

She also lives in the basic area where Garrett's novel is set. More precisely, it's set in Galillee, which is a part of Monmouth Beach. It's literally within walking distance of where Corcione grew up.

Maybe it's because TB grew up not far from there himself, or maybe it's because TB has been there many times, most recently two weeks ago when he went to interview Corcione, but it was easy for him to picture the places in the novel.

Or maybe it's because the author did such a good job of describing them. That's more likely.

TB wants three things out of a novel, and he got all three out of Garrett's book. First, he wants to be able to picture the scene in his head. Second, he wants to be invested in the characters. Third, he wants to be unable to stop reading because he needs to find out what happens.

The story is about a boy named Jake, and it follows him from when he's a little kid through when his high school years. There are common themes throughout the book, which is very heavy on baseball (but no football), the meaning of God and faith (Judd was a religion major) and the value of goodness.

Mostly it's just a really well-told story, one that is engaging from the start and one that throws you all kinds of curveballs, and not just in the baseball parts. The writing style is at times very deep and at other times easy-going, with its portrait of life at the Jersey Shore. 

The relationship between the main character and the main character's father begs a lot of questions, most particularly how closely it relates to the relationship between Judd and his own father, Jim Garrett, a longtime NFL and college football coach himself. 

As TB has mentioned, he too has recently published his first novel. He knows the questions people have asked him, and he had the same questions as he read Judd's book. 

How much of the main character is Judd? Are the characters based on real people? Did any of those things actually happen?

TB will ask Judd all these questions and more next time he talks to him. He'll also apologize for waiting so long to actually get to read the book.

He'll also tell him he's glad he finally did.

TB can tell you first-hand that it's not easy to do what Judd has done. 

Writing a book is tough. Writing a compelling book like Judd's is even tougher.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Oh For It To Be Crossover Season Now

This is mid-November, which is known in the world of college athletics as "Crossover Season."

There's nothing quite as stressful for those who work in the business. Crossover Season comes twice a year, from the start of hockey season until the last fall team has finished playing and then again at the start of lacrosse season until the last winter team has finished playing.

These two crossovers are especially crazy in the Ivy League, where you can end up with nearly 20 teams playing more than 30 events in the course of a weekend.

They all need to be covered, whether that means by communications or events staffs or athletic trainers or administration. It can be a lot.

Some of TigerBlog's favorite moments in his time at Princeton have been the meetings to figure out who will cover what during these times. Those are always interesting.

As in: "you cover the men's soccer game and I'll start women's hockey until you can get there and then you have men's hockey too while I go to women's basketball and then he can cover women's soccer and then on and on and on and on."

Of course, each sport has its own sport contact. In crossover season, well, that often gets jettisoned in the name of making sure every game is staffed properly.

There was always great satisfaction in getting everything done without having to ask for outside help. TigerBlog and his Office of Athletic Communications (especially them) colleagues have covered events in pretty much every sport Princeton has to help make that happen.

And so that's what the last few weekends would have been. 

Opening of hockey seasons. Opening of basketball seasons. Possible NCAA events in field hockey, soccer, volleyball, men's water polo and cross country. Football season. Other winter sports mixed in.

Oh, and now that TB thinks about it, you can throw in the travel associated with the NCAA events as there are home winter events to be covered. It's a challenge. 

For the fall of 2020, there is no crossover season.

There was no fall season, as everyone got used to long ago. And now this past week came the announcement that there would be no Ivy League winter sports, or spring sports through at least February.

This was not easy news for anyone to hear. Or to give. 

Princeton president Christopher L. Eisgruber met with the head coaches and the athletes to give them the update himself. It's not what he wanted to have to say.

Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan, who has done an extraordinary job of guiding the athletic department through the COVID crisis (and TB does not say that lightly or say that because she's the boss), had to punctuate Eisgruber's remarks with her own. It's not what she wanted to say either.

First, it's important to understand that everyone in charge wants nothing more than to get Princeton back to business as usual, with the undergraduate experience punctuated with all of the campus life activities that are an ordinary part of the Princeton world. Included in that is intercollegiate competition, with all of its co-curricular benefits.

For the winter, that athletic competition will not happen.

This is crushing news for those who only get four years to do this. They are laser-focused young people who are Princeton athletes - and Ivy athletes - because they excel academically and athletically, and that's not a combination that was particularly easy for any of them. They came to Princeton to do both at the highest level because, as the first women's rowing captain, Amy Richlin, famously said nearly 50 years ago, "you wouldn't be at Princeton if you liked to do things the easy way."

Their athletic identities are hugely important to them, and they cherish the opportunity to wear the uniforms they wear. To have that taken away is heartbreaking for everyone involved. 

As TB heard the news, his own heart broke for every Ivy League athlete whose careers have been so disrupted. He's seen the big wins and the tough losses, but the one thing he's always taken for granted all these years was that there would be games to win or lose, not that some pandemic would come along and shut things down.

It won't be permanent. That's the good news. There will be games again. There will be championships to win. There will again be reason to marvel at the on-field ability of these young people, even as TB continues to marvel at their resilience and the strength of their character that has come out these horrible months.

It doesn't make the present any easier for those who are missing out.

Oh would TB love to be swamped in another crossover season right now.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Three Sporters

TigerBlog starts today with the following list of alums:

Constance Turner Haydock ’75
Emily Goodfellow ’76
Patricia Harnisch Zajac ’76
Amie Knox ’77
Deborah Hodes ’78
Stacey Shreiner Kley’78
Kris Brower Schulte ’83
Angelina M. Dennis ’84
Eliot Ammidon Jacobs ’85
Cynthia Griffin Ferris ’86
Karen Konigsberg ’86
Sonja S. Bauer ’86
Jane Dietze ’87
Katherine B. Schulze ’88
Suzanne Morrison ’89
Demer Holleran ’89
Kathryn Barrows ’00

So what do these 17 women have in common?

As far as TB can tell, these 17 women are the only women who ever lettered in three sports at Princeton. This excludes cross country, indoor track and field and outdoor track and field, with all due respect to the mental and physical toll it takes to run distance in three seasons.

More than half of the 17 played field hockey, lacrosse and something else in the winter. That group featured four who played hockey, four who played squash and one each who played basketball and swam. A total of 15 played field hockey in the fall.

As you can see, of the 17 women listed, there were 16 who competed in the 1970s and 1980s. The only one since 1989 to do so was Kathryn Barrows, who lettered twice in soccer, twice in hockey and once in lacrosse. 

Today Kathryn Barrows makes nature documentaries, including one that will soon be out about an all-female excursion to the North Pole. 

For today's purposes, is anyone missing from that list?  

TB would like to see if anyone is missing, so he figured he'd put it out to his readers for feedback. If you know anyone you think should be on the list but isn't, please let him know.

What you can't see just by looking on the list is that only three of those athletes earned varsity letters in three sports as seniors. That would be Amie Knox, Emily Goodfellow and Suzanne Morrison (and Morrison's story has an interesting twist, though TB doesn't want to give away too much from his upcoming book on the first 50 years of women's athletics at Princeton).

The fact that apparently only one athlete has lettered in three sports in the last 30 years and the fact that only three lettered in three sports as seniors shows you how difficult it is to be a three-sport athlete. In the early days, some of this was done to fill out rosters of the new teams.

For instance, neither Goodfellow nor Knox had played squash before they came to Princeton. For her part, Knox was a tennis player at least, so she had preexisting racket skills. Goodfellow was a field hockey/lacrosse player, so she came to squash without any serious racket sport experience, which in some ways she says helped her.

Since 14 of the 17 did not play three sports as seniors, it's clear that the demands of going through Princeton as a student who plays on three different teams are quite challenging. The fact that only one athlete was able to letter in three sports in the last 31 years shows how much more intense the commitment is to each individual team, and that's something that starts long before college.

TB has been asked many times why there are so many fewer multisport athletes in college, and the answer is because there are so many fewer in eighth grade, let alone high school. These days kids are regularly forced to choose a specialization at a much earlier age, either due to year-round travel teams or training programs.

There is a chapter on three-sport athletes in the upcoming book, for which TB has already written about 50,000 words. Hey, there were 47,094 words in the entire novel "The Great Gatsby."

Another part of the celebration of the anniversary is the First50 podcast, which TB has been doing with Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan, herself a two-sport Princeton athlete (soccer, hockey). 

The third episode of the podcast was released yesterday, and it features two contemporary athletes, Kat Holmes (fencing) and Kat Sharkey (field hockey). They share more than just a nickname - both were NCAA champions at Princeton who went on to compete in the Olympics.

They both did a great job on the podcast, which you can listen to HERE.

One of the best parts was when they talked about how much of the world they're seen through the years with their athletic careers. It was also great to hear them talk about how they came to play their sports, what is unique about those sports and what they feel  has been the value of sport.

Again, they were both great.

And once again, if you know someone who lettered in three sports who is not on TB's list, please let him know.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

A Little Princeton-Yale History

The 2020 Princeton football team would have taken a bus to Yale tomorrow in advance of Saturday's scheduled game between the two.

Well, a few buses, actually.

It was a bit of a contrast to the way the 1873 Princeton football team made the trip to New Haven for the first game ever between the schools.

Those Tigers took a boat. According to the book "Athletics At Princeton – A History," the definitive history of 19th century Princeton Athletics,  the football team "took the night boat and almost froze, but at 2 p.m. they were on the field, ready to begin the first football game ever between Princeton and Yale."

The game this year would have been the 143rd meeting in the series. 

That first game in 1873 finished 3-0 Princeton, back when teams scored by kicking or batting the ball into the goal. H.C. Beach of the Class of 1874 had two of the three goals, and G.R. Elder of the Class of 1875 had the other.

H.C. lived most of his post-Princeton life in the New York Metropolitan area, practicing law, after a short stop in Iowa for a year as a businessman. Speaking of short stops, he was also the shortstop for the baseball team, when he wasn't pitching or playing third. 

He did bat leadoff regardless of what position he was playing. In his last collegiate start on the mound, he was touched for 13 runs in five innings in a 16-1 loss to Yale.

Some other little H.C. Beach facts: 1) he thought the University did not do a good enough job in communicating with its alums (he'd be in heaven now with the way information flows these days) and 2) he worked on James Garfield's successful 1880 Presidential campaign.

Princeton and Yale played in 1873 and again in 1876. The first game between the two in Princeton was in 1886, as the teams played in New Haven, New York City (at the Polo Grounds) and Hoboken in those years. 

The teams have played ever year since 1876, with the exception of 1917 and 1918 due to World War I and 1944 due to World War II. Despite the war, the teams played in 1942, 1943 and 1945.

This year, of course, there will be no Princeton-Yale game, due to the COVID pandemic. The game would have been Saturday at Yale Bowl.

Princeton and Yale rank second in college football in terms of most games played in a rivalry. The leader? Lehigh-Lafayette.

Harvard-Yale is third, as the two have played 136 times. TB has never looked all that closely at the list of the most played games, and he was a little surprised to see who was fourth, in that he never realized it was a big game.

That one? TB will give you a second.

It's not Penn-Cornell, which is sixth and the next most-played Ivy game. Princeton's next highest total is against Harvard, with 112 games, which ranks 38th.

Wisconsin-Minnesota is fifth at 129 games, making it the most-played between two current Power Five schools. There are two others in the top 10, and it's not Oregon-Oregon State, which TigerBlog might have thought would have been up there but is actually tied with Harvard-Dartmouth for 11th.

The other two Power Five ones are Virginia-North Carolina and the most-played game between current SEC teams. Those two rivalries are tied for the seventh with 125 games between them. 

Any guesses on the SEC game? Hint - it's not the one TB would have guessed. 

The rest of the Top 10 is Yale-Brown and Cincinnati-Miami (Ohio), which are tied for ninth. 

Trivia answers? The No. 4 most played game is William & Mary and Richmond. TB never would have guessed that. Nor would he have gotten right the most played SEC game, which is Georgia and Auburn.

One more thing for today: 

The game Saturday in New Haven almost surely would have started out with a moment of silence in honor of Yale's longtime administrator Wayne Dean, who passed away earlier this week at the age of 65. Dean had retired just a year ago after a long tenure at Yale, and Dean was mostly recognized for his work with the Bulldogs' men's hockey team and with the sport of college hockey in general. In fact, Dean served at one point as the chair of the NCAA Division I men's hockey committee.

TigerBlog had met Wayne Dean but didn't know him well. He does know a lot of people who knew him and spoke very highly of him as a hard-working, dedicated, loyal, affable man. 

TB's colleague Steve Conn tweeted this about Dean:


TigerBlog sends his condolences to the Dean family and to Yale Athletics.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

To The Veterans

Today is November 11, or 11/11.

It's a reminder that if you take any number made up solely of "1s" and multiply it by any other similar number, you'll get a palindrome. For instance, 11x11=121. 

Try it. Choose any two such numbers, and you'll see. Try 11,111 times 111.

This will give you hours of great fun.

If you take any of those numbers and multiply it against itself, then you'll get not only a palindrome but also a perfectly numerical one. Again, 1,111 times 1,111 gives you 1,234,321. 

Of course, there's more to Nov. 11 than just a numerical oddity.

Today is also Veterans Day. 

TigerBlog is not a military veteran. He's often wondered how he would have done had he spent some time in the service and what sort of longterm impact the experience would have had on him.

He does know that he reserves his highest respect for those who have served. At the NCAA men's lacrosse championships each year, the military veterans in the crowd are asked to stand and be saluted. TB always marvels at how few there are.

In honor of Veterans Day, TB goes back to 2009, for something he wrote then. It still captures exactly what he'd want to say:

TigerBlog woke up this morning like he does every other morning: free.

It's certainly not through his own doing, and it's certainly something he takes for granted. TigerBlog is free to do what he wants. Go to work. Not go to work. Work here forever. Quit today. Live here. Pick up and move 3,000 miles away. Whatever he wants.

Why? Because that's how it works in America, and it works that way because of the sacrifice that hundreds of thousands of American soldiers have made in various wars during the last 233 years.

Today is Veterans' Day, obviously. For those who weren't paying attention in school, Veterans' Day is usually Nov. 11 (it can be moved if it falls on the weekend) in honor of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I on Nov. 11, 1918.

TigerBlog can't imagine the horror of fighting in a war, and he saves his greatest respect for those who have. His uncle Herbie fought in Europe and the Pacific in World War II. His uncle Larry fought in Korea and never spoke a word about his experiences there til the day more than 50 years later when he died. FatherBlog was in the Army as well, though it was during the point between the wars in Korea and Vietnam.

Princeton's connection to the military is long and heroic, befitting a school whose unofficial motto is "In the Nation's Service." Visitors to the ground floor rotunda of Nassau Hall are greeted by a memorial to Princeton's war dead.

Princeton lost 355 students in World War II, which exceeded the total number lost in every previous war combined (319 of whom had been killed in World War I). During the war, nearly 80% of Princeton students left campus to enlist in the military, and, according to Mudd Library, the University was able to remain viable only by becoming a training school for the Army and Navy.

Princeton athletics were greatly affected by the two World Wars. The 1917 Princeton football season consisted of two games, against teams from nearby military bases, and the same was true of the three-game 1918 season. Hockey was suspended for the 1917-18 season and only two games were played the following year.

There would be no hockey from 1943 until the 1945-46 season. Football would play seven games in 1943 and 1945 and three in 1944. Lacrosse would play a total of 17 games between 1942 and 1945.

TigerBlog has no idea how many Princeton athletes are among the school's war dead, but he does know the legendary stories of two former Tiger athletes. Moe Berg, a catcher on the baseball team who went on to have a long career in the Major Leagues, was a spy during World War II who came close to having to assassinate the head of Germany's nuclear program and who took rooftop photos to make maps of Tokyo during baseball barnstorming trips that were later used for air raids.

The other is Hobey Baker, whom TigerBlog considers along with Dick Kazmaier and Bill Bradley to be the one of the three greatest athletes in Princeton history. Baker's story is also famous: After graduating in 1914 as one of the greatest hockey and football players of all-time and finding life without athletics to be somewhat tedious (he was a banker who played club hockey before there was a professional league for either of his sports), he found a replacement thrill when he learned to fly. He flew against the Germans in World War I, and he died while taking a plane for a test flight six weeks after the Armistice. Legend has it that rather than face a life without sports or war, he crashed his plane on purpose.

Take a minute to think about what the significance of today is. Veterans' Day lacks the family feel of Thanksgiving and Christmas. It doesn't conjure up the start of summer like Memorial Day or make you think of a barbecue in the backyard and watching fireworks like the Fourth of July.

Mostly, it's just another day for many people, a day to go about business as usual. Except that we do it in a country that is free, and because today salutes those who made it that way and continue to make it that way, it's nothing short of the most important day of the year.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

The Hummer Retires

There are 144 steps from the field to the press box at Brown Stadium.

There is no elevator. It's a rough walk, probably because it's a very wide expanse on the way up. It's even rougher when you're carrying a laptop or possibly radio equipment - or both. 

There have always been two important staples waiting for visitors once they got to the top: chocolate chip cookies, and Chris Humm, or, as he is known basically to everyone, the Hummer.

The cookies are legendary. So is the Hummer. And now one of them will no longer be there game in and game out.

TigerBlog wasn't all that surprised when he got the email last Friday that said that Hummer was announcing his retirement after 40 years in athletic communications, the last 32 of which have been spent at Brown. At the same time, it was a bit startling to read the words, that the Hummer was hanging it up at the end of the calendar year. 

TB goes way back with the Hummer, back to when he was first covering Princeton sports in the newspaper business. The Hummer has been the football, men's basketball and men's lacrosse contact at Brown since 1988, and so TB worked closely with him for those three seasons for his first eight years at Princeton, when he was also the contact for those sports. 

Since then, they've both been their school's respective men's lacrosse contacts. And TB has seen him at football and men's basketball games as well, most recently when he climbed those 144 steps again last fall for the Princeton-Brown football game in Providence.

The Hummer is one of the last remaining people in athletic communications who remembers the pre-internet days. The, egads, days of mailing things out. Lots and lots of things.

It's a world that most of those who work in college athletic communications never knew. TB can tell you from first-hand experience that it was incumbent on those who wanted to survive the information evolution to change with it, and that's not something that was easy for everyone.

Factor in the endless nights and weekends, and it's not the easiest profession to have chosen.

And yet here he is, retiring in 2020. How would TB best describe the Hummer? 

He's a very, very kind man. He's a very nice man. He's funny, with the same dry, sometimes sarcastic, humor as TB. He's fun to be around. 

He always seems to be upbeat and in a good mood. He never seemed to be taking anything too seriously or getting flustered by anything around him. He's a great family man, with his wife, children and grandchildren of utmost importance to him at all times.

Mostly, he made the trips to Brown a little nicer. And he made them about more than just the games themselves. He made them about going to a game and seeing an old friend.

In his email announcing his retirement, he included some stats about his Brown tenure, which, of course he would. Here are two that speak to the nature of the business and how it can be tough:

* 319 consecutive Brown football games
* 448 consecutive Brown Ivy League men's basketball games

Think about that. Every single one of those games was played on a Friday or Saturday. That's a lot of weekends away.

With the Hummer's retirement, TB moves up to the second spot in longest tenure in Ivy League athletic communications, behind only Yale's Steve Conn. The world that the two of them started out in, with old-school legends like Columbia's Bill Steinman and Dartmouth's Kathy Slattery, doesn't exist anymore.

When TB is on his twice-weekly Zoom calls with his OAC colleagues, something invariably comes up to remind him that he's been doing this for a lot longer than they have. It creates something called institutional memory, and it also creates a nostalgic time from decades ago that he cherishes.

The Hummer has always been a part of that. TB wishes him the best in his retirement. 

Brown athletics, the Ivy League, for that matter, won't be quite the same without having him as a part of it anymore. TB will miss his friend.  

As the Hummer leaves, TB will leave you today with how he ended his retirement email:

I still have my health (I can hit a drive 250 yards - downwind, downhill and hard fairway) and am relatively young (65). I’m supported by a wonderful family, including grandkids, that has put up with me all these years. 


Remember to always do the right thing when faced with a tough call. Thanks to all for your help, support and memories. Go Bruno.


Monday, November 9, 2020

#Saturday Flashback

Can anyone tell TigerBlog what the most played Division I college basketball rivalry is? 

You should know this is you've been reading here for awhile, since TB gave you the answer a little more than seven years ago. 

The top five rivalries feature some combination of the same four schools. That's your hint.

Give up?

You might not think of it right away, but the four schools are Washington, Washington State, Oregon and Oregon State. Those schools have played each other at least 300 times each. The No. 1 rivalry on that list is Oregon-Oregon State, who have played each other 354 times.

Princeton's most played rivals are Yale (244 times) and Penn (243 times) Those rivalries are no older than Oregon-Oregon State, which shows you have many more times per year those two teams have played each other.

TB thought of that yesterday when he rode his bike past a young couple dressed in their Oregon green and pushing a stroller with a baby also dressed fluorescently (though that isn't an actual word according to the dictionary).

TB also thought of his colleague Macall Martin, Princeton's Assistant AD for marketing, and her husband Anthony and their own baby. They are very much an Oregon State family.

So what would have happened had the Martin family been coming the other way. What do you do when you see your biggest rival coming towards you?

Do you stop and say hello and joke about it and talk about what is presumably your shared home state? Or would they have just glared at each other and kept walking? 

Would the babies have glared too?

TB's normal response when he sees someone in the gear of another Ivy League school when he has his Princeton stuff on (which is about 90 percent of the time) is to say the school name as a question, followed "never heard of it."

He did see someone wearing a Dartmouth shirt as well on the same ride, though he was wearing a Sacred Heart shirt at the time, so it's not quite the same effect.

It did get TB to think about three things.

First, had it been a normal fall, he would have been at Princeton Stadium for the football game against Dartmouth at that very moment (unless the game had been moved to Friday night for TV or something like that). 

Second, it was 75 degrees and sunny. Why couldn't it have been that weather for the last time Princeton and Dartmouth played, 52 weeks earlier at Yankee Stadium, when it was freezing.

Third, has it really been two years already since that epic 2018 game, the one where Princeton defeated Dartmouth 14-9 in the most intense Ivy football game TB has ever seen?

Yes. It has.

And while there was no game to see this weekend, TB did get to check out the 2018 highlights on Twitter once again.

That game was the first of two straight between the teams where both were 7-0 heading in. Unlike a year ago, neither team would lose in Week 9 or 10, and thus they would finish a combined 19-1, making that game the winner-take-all championship game it shaped up to be.

TB can go back and tell you what he remembers about that game. Instead, why not have a Monday flashback to go with the Saturday one, so here's what he wrote the Monday after that game:

If you saw the Princeton-Dartmouth football game Saturday afternoon, then you probably had the same thought as TigerBlog once the first 11:36 of the game had been played.

To review quickly, Dartmouth took the ball and went 74 yards on 14 plays in 7:10, 7-0 Big Green. Princeton then took the ball and went 75 yards on 12 plays in 4:26, 7-7.

At that point, TB was thinking that this was a game between two teams who came in averaging 85 points per game between them and that they could end up making a serious run at beating that number. He never saw coming what was actually going to happen next over the remaining 48:24.

By the time it ended, Princeton had a huge 14-9 win in a game that matched two 7-0 teams and surpassed any reasonable expectation in terms of drama, not to mention toughness.

Is it the best Princeton football game TigerBlog has seen in all his years with the Tigers? Possibly. He'll revisit that later, when the emotions of the day have worn off.

TB knows what emotion he had after the first Dartmouth drive. He thought Princeton was never, ever going to stop the Big Green and that the only way that Princeton was going to win was to be a little more unstoppable offensively.

After the first Princeton drive, he felt better, liking Princeton's chances in what he was convinced was going to be an offensive explosion from both teams. If you recall, the 2017 game in Hanover finished 54-44 Dartmouth.

So what happened next? Well, here were the combined results of the remaining drives: 10 punts, one safety, three turnovers on downs, one fumble and one interception. Oh yeah, and one touchdown, the game-winning one, on the second rushing touchdown of the day from John Lovett, with 6:33 to go in the game.

After the 150 yards the teams had on those first drives, there would be 373 more yards of total offense between the two. That's it. And 91 of those came on one of the most extraordinary drives you'll ever see.

Princeton took the ball on its own three, and then eight minutes later, the Tigers turned it over on downs at the Dartmouth six, still down 9-7 (after two amazing catches from Jesper Horsted, of course). And yet, the whole game changed with that drive. As someone said to TB later, Princeton won the game on the drive that failed.

That drive did two things. First, it flipped the field over. Second, it was the first sign that the Princeton offense had worn down the Dartmouth defense enough to score the touchdown it needed. That winning score came on the next drive, ending a four-play, 34-yard drive the next time the Tigers had the ball.

Of course, it was the defense that got the ball back for the offense, with a three-and-out that went run for no gain, incomplete pass, run for no gain, punt.

Yeah, the Princeton defense was great.

Dartmouth would finish with 213 yards of total offense. That means after the 75 of that first drive, the Big Green would go for just 138 the rest of the way. Dartmouth had six first downs on that first stroll down the field; there would be just seven more the rest of the way.

This game was won by the Princeton defense, no doubt about it. If you want to go back to last year, when Jared Gerbino rushed for 202 yards and four touchdowns, then Princeton gave up 61 points to Dartmouth in 72 minutes - and then two (on a safety that had nothing to do with the defense) in the next 48.

Had Dartmouth scored again, with the way Dartmouth's defense was playing, it might have been enough. Every time the Princeton defense went on the field, it knew it had no margin for error at all.

This isn't something that the Tigers have had much experience with this season, when six of the first seven games were total blowouts and the only close one - Harvard - was a game in which the Tigers never trailed.

This time, Princeton was down 9-7 and the points and yards weren't coming easily. It put the pressure squarely on the defense each possession, knowing that Dartmouth's defense was putting up scoreless innings as well, and each time the defense responded.

After the game, Princeton head coach Bob Surace compared it to "Rocky." To TigerBlog, it was more like the big game in "Remember the Titans," where the defensive coach tells them "not another yard."

The Princeton offense has gotten a lot of attention this year, and it's been deserved. It's been led by Lovett, the dynamic quarterback whose persona comes across in everything he does on the field. There's the uniquely talented receiver Horsted and his partner Stephen Carlson, as well as a deep army of running backs and a veteran offensive line.

The Tigers have put up yards and points in lightning fashion, and it's led to the lopsided scores you've seen all year.

Lost in all that is a defense that has allowed just nine points per game, second best in the country. It's a great defensive unit, and that's exactly how they play, as a unit. They have some of their own big names - Fossati, Johnson, Floyd and others - but they don't have that superstar defender.

Hey, on that key three-and-out, the two running plays for no gain featured tackles by four different players - Jay Rolader and Tom Johnson on the first and Jeremiah Tyler and Joey DeMarco, while the pass in between was broken up by a fifth player, Mark Fossati.

What they have is an army of guys who play hard at all times and are utterly relentless. They're their own version of the "No Name Defense," the one that the 1972 Miami Dolphins rode to a perfect season.

Speaking of perfect seasons, Princeton is 8-0 with two weeks to go. If you're already excited about next weekend, Princeton is at Yale Saturday at 12:30. After that will be a home game against Penn.

In case you haven't looked at the standings, there is Princeton at 5-0, Dartmouth at 4-1 and then Yale and Penn at 3-2 each. The next two weeks will not be easy.

TB will have more on that later in the week.

He leaves you today hoping that he did justice to what that game Saturday was, an extraordinary slugfest by two superior defenses, with just enough big plays by the Princeton offense to pull out what is a huge win. It was up there with any game Princeton has played in the last 30 years.

What it wasn't was a championship game. It was just a step towards one.

The challenge now is to dial it back up for the next two.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Happy Anniversary

TigerBlog recently finished "The Queen's Gambit," the Netflix miniseries about a girl who learns chess from the janitor at the orphanage where she lives and then grows up to be as good a player as there is in the world by the time she's 20.

It's a great show. There are seven episodes, and each one of them is really compelling. Even if you know nothing about chess other than which way the pieces can move, you'll still be drawn in to the series.

TB is one of those people who knows which the pieces go and not much else. It got him wondering if his complete lack of knowledge of strategy would be mistaken for hitherto unseen genius were he to play a master player and therefore cause confusion on the part of someone who indeed is an expert.

He doubts it. 

He did wonder why all of the other masters that the lead character dusted on her way to the top were able to coach her. It's not like a physical sport, where the coach can have the mental ability to design winning strategy but not the ability to execute it.

Ah, but TB nitpicks. The show, as TB said, is great. 

Seguing from the chessboard to the gridiron, today is the 151st anniversary of the first college football game ever played. It was on Nov. 6, 1869, in New Brunswick, between Princeton and Rutgers.

As an aside, today is also the birthday of Kim Meszaros, the former Princeton Presidential Award winner and the Executive Assistant to the Director of Athletics. Happy birthday to Kim. And also happy birthday to MotherBlog, who would have been 81 today.

Meanwhile, back at the first football game, a year ago was the huge celebration of the 150th. Round numbers get all the perks. Here's what TB wrote a year ago today:

It was 150 years ago today that 25 Princeton men got on a train and went to New Brunswick to take on 25 of Rutgers' finest in the first college football game ever played. And so what if what they played doesn't quite resemble what college football currently looks like. That damp Saturday afternoon in New Brunswick is where it all started. The game back on Nov. 6, 1869, was played under rules that allowed players to touch the ball with their hands and to bat it towards the goal. The point was to kick it into a goal, and the game would end when 10 goals were scored. And full contact was allowed.

Princeton lost the first game to Rutgers and then won its next 11, even though it would take seven years to play those 11 games.

The Tigers beat Rutgers in the second meeting of 1869, one week later in Princeton, and then won the only game in 1870. The teams did not play in 1871.

In that season, Princeton didn't play any real games, only unofficial meetings with a team from the Seminary. As such, the official records don't reflect any games in 1871.

That was 149 years ago. It's also the last time there was a fall where Princeton played no official football games. 

Until this year, of course. If that trajectory repeats, then the next time there won't be a fall with Princeton football would be 149 years from now, or 2169. TB will probably not still be writing by then.

Here's a quick trivia question for you. Other than Rutgers, Princeton only played one school between 1869 and 1880 that is not a current Ivy League school. Can you name the school? 

TB will give you a few paragraphs for that.

It was 52 weeks ago today that Princeton had its practice at Yankee Stadium in advance of its game against Dartmouth to celebrate the big anniversary.

This year wasn't going to be a major reunion year, as it were, for the anniversary. But it's still the anniversary of that game, which is one of the most important dates in American sports history.

Everything that college football has become all these years started with that game. And so this date will always be a significant one, and a source of pride for Princeton Athletics, round number or not. 

Oh, and the trivia answer?

Stevens Tech.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Angie And Nancy

TigerBlog was giving his daughter a ride the other day, and when she got out of the car, she had to get a backpack and bag out off of the backseat.

When she had those two wrapped around her, the car door closed but didn't fully catch. You've experienced this many times. The "door open" light on the dashboard was on. 

TB put the passenger-side window down to let his daughter know to open and close the door again. This is what he said:

"The door is still open. Close it in a way that would make Angie proud."

Miss TigerBlog then slammed the door so hard that it almost shattered the windows.

If you don't know who "Angie" is, she's the Associate Head Coach for Strength and Conditioning. She is the one who works directly with MTB and her women's lacrosse teammates, as well as with the women's soccer, men's hockey, women's basketball, women's volleyball and softball teams. 

Angie's actual name is Angie Brambley-Moyer. In a world where achieving the status of being known by only one name, with no last name or title needed, is rare, Angie certainly has enjoyed that at Princeton.

As TB thinks about it, that's probably as true for her as it is for anyone here. 

Angie has been at Princeton for 17 years now. TB believes that are various times, she has been a rugby player, a weightlifter and a boxer.

She recently won her division at the RWJ Barnabas Health "Running With The Devils" virtual 5K. From the RWJ Barnabas website: "100 percent of the proceeds will benefit the RWJ Barnabas Health's Emergency Response Fund, which will help us continue the work of treating our critical patients while preparing to protect our communities for any potential resurgence of the virus or other emergencies."

She was recently featured on a podcast called "The Talking Shop" on which she talked about her role at Princeton and her love for working with her teams. You can listen to it HERE.

It's pretty long, but it's worth it. Angie lets you know exactly what she's all about.

Here's a sample of where she starts:

Bloom where you're planted. Bloom where you're planted ... We train athletes and we go to sports games. It's an awesome job ... Crush it. Crush the job. And not just the job. The job around the job ... Be the person the people want to be around. 

It's really good stuff.

If you want more really good stuff, there's THIS.

This is the video of the recent Notre Dame High School Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony. When TB was covering high school sports a long time ago, he spent a lot of time covering Notre Dame, which is located down Route 206, about 15 or 20 minutes from Princeton.

He went onto the school website and saw all of the names in the athletic Hall of Fame that he remembered from those days. It brought back good memories.

The current induction class includes Nancy Donigan, who is a longtime member of the compliance department at Princeton.

Her piece begins at around the 18:30 mark.

It was supposed to be done in March or April, but the Coronavirus situation forced that to be cancelled. Nancy wrote an eight-minute speech for that occasion, only she never got the chance to use it.

TB has known Nancy since the early 1990s, but there were things in her speech that TB had never heard her speak about before. She also framed some of those events, particularly her father's suicide when she was in eighth grade, in the context of the impact that playing sports at Notre Dame had on her and how that experience helped her through.

Unfortunately, that speech would never be used. Instead, she was given two or three minutes on the video version. 

If you listened, then you know that she clearly made the most of it. 

TB told you about Nancy a few weeks ago. These days, Nancy is battling breast cancer, and she is fighting it fiercely.

Her new speech references that fight. And the birth of her first grandchild.

And that's Angie and Nancy.

Clearly, today's subject was strong women.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

The 151st

The following is an actual text exchange between TigerBlog and his son from yesterday morning:

TigerBlog: "Got the polling place at 6:55. Actually voted at what time? A) 7:05. B) 8:05. C) 9:05. D) 10:05?"
TigerBlog Jr: "D, 10:05."
TB: "Uh, it's not even 10:05 yet."
TBJ: "Good point."

TB's wait to vote yesterday was two hours. For his wait, he made friends with the people in front of him and behind him, including the guy who had two sons who went to Princeton lacrosse camp. 

There was also a guy who works in construction and had a fall yesterday. His wife was saying how they were going from there to get his arm X-rayed, and how if it was negative they could go out to eat after. 

To that, TB offered this: "Even if it's broken, you'll still need to eat."

And that's all the politics you get from TigerBlog.

Shifting away from that, TB goes to the recently completed World Series.  

The Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in six games to win the series, winning Game 6 3-1 after Tampa Bay manager pulled his ace Blake Snell after he'd struck out nine while giving up two hits. He'd thrown 73 pitches. His team led 1-0.

Of course Snell's replacement, Nick Anderson, was immediately touched for the tying and go-ahead runs. The Dodgers would win 3-1, and that was that.

Cash was pilloried (a word TB does not believe he's ever actually used here before) for taking out his best pitcher while he was seemingly in complete control. This, of course, was because it's what Cash had done all of the shortened season, and he did it because the analytics told him to.

Before TB gets into that, consider the 1968 World Series, in which the Tigers defeated the Cardinals in seven games. Both Detroit's Mickey Lolich and the Cards' Bob Gibson pitched three complete games, with both doing so in a Game 7 that was played in 2:07. 

The Game 6 last week was played in 3:28, if you're wondering. 

Anyway, TB sees the decision by Cash two different ways. First, there's the idea that analytics need a large sample size to become statistically significant, and there is no way that a game in August can be treated the same as a World Series elimination game.

Pillory away. 

Then there's the flip side. If Cash had left Snell in and Snell got hit, then Cash would have been ripped (less fancy way of saying "pilloried") for going away from what had been working so well.

It's the nature of being a head coach/manager. 

You make your choices based on sound logic, and then what happens doesn't make your decision good or bad. But you have to be ready for being second-guessed.

It's one of Bob Surace's strengths as a head football coach. He's not the least bit worried about being second guessed.

He and TB have talked about it a lot through the years. It's the best way to coach. Too many coaches, especially in the professional ranks, don't coach that way - and it often comes back to bite them. But at least they don't get pilloried, right?

Speaking of Surace, TB can't decide if it seems like a million years ago or yesterday that Princeton was celebrating the 150th anniversary of college football.

If you recall, this week was the week of the anniversary of the first game, between Princeton and Rutgers, on Nov. 6, 1869. 

Princeton played Dartmouth the following Saturday at Yankee Stadium as part of the celebration. There were big events for both teams around the game in New York City, and the entire experience was amazing for everyone who was there.

Yes, Dartmouth won the game 27-10. Still, it was a great week for Princeton football.

The 149th year of Princeton football had a happier ending for Princeton. The Tigers went 10-0 in 2018 and then followed that with last year's 8-2.

In each of the last two years, this week was the week that led up to a showdown between 7-0 Dartmouth and 7-0 Princeton. 

Would this have been a third time? 


And as TB said, does it seem like a year ago? More? Less?

He can't decide.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Election Day

Today is, obviously, Election Day.

The Ivy League teams have done an admirable job in setting - and in most cases achieving - the goal of having 100 percent of the athletes of as many teams as possible be registered to vote. For a pretty high percentage of these athletes, today will be their first Presidential election.

This if the fourth Presidential election since TigerBlog started doing this blog. 

Back in 2008, TB wrote this:

"TigerBlog endorses ... voting."

He stands by that statement this year, and for every other year there is an election. 

Also back in 2008, he added this:

"Speaking of voting, the closest a Princeton athlete has come to being elected President of the United States was obviously in 2000, when Bill Bradley ran against Al Gore for the Democratic nomination. Had things gone differently, maybe Robert Ehrlich could have gone from Governor of Maryland to a Vice Presidential spot."

TB is fairly certain that at some point, there will be a Princeton athletic alum who becomes the President of the United States. He's not quite sure who or when, but he does know that Princeton athletes have the perfect background when it comes to being prepared for such a challenge.

They're obviously smart. They know how to multi-task. They buy into the notion of service wholeheartedly. The list goes on.

There have been Presidents who were varsity college athletes. George H.W. Bush played baseball at Yale and therefore against Princeton. In fact, Bush was the captain of the 1948 Yale team that defeated Princeton 14-2 on June 5 that year, in a game at which Babe Ruth - who passed away two months later - was a spectator, according to the Daily Princetonian:

The Bambino, who presented the original manuscript of his book, "The Babe Ruth Story" to Eli captain George Bush before the game, saw some batting and pitching reminiscent of his work for the Red Sox and Yankees of yore, but unfortunately from a Princeton standpoint, it was all done by the Blue.

There was a rematch seven days later, in a game that Princeton lost 7-5. The Prince had stopped publishing for the summer by then, and there was no game story in the Princeton Herald that week. There was, though, a note about how 195 students had graduated in the Princeton High School Class of 1948, one of whom was none other than John McPhee.

Dwight Eisenhower played football at Army, famously tackling Jim Thorpe in 1912 - and then tearing up his knee later that season and seeing his football career end. Army did not play Princeton during Eisenhower's time there.

Gerald Ford played football at Michigan, and he in fact did play against Princeton, in 1932, in a game Michigan won 14-7 in Ann Arbor. Michigan, by the way, won the national championship that year, and Ford was an All-American.

Are there others? 

There have only been two Princeton alums who have been elected President of the United States, and neither of them were alums of the 20th or 21st centuries. A 21st century alum would be 35 already and therefore eligible to be President, right? Yes.

On the other hand, there are currently three United States Supreme Court Justices who attended Princeton. That's one-third of the court. 

In all, there have been 12 Princeton alums who have served on the Supreme Court, out of 115 justices. That's a little more than 10 percent.

As far as Presidents, though, it's two of 44, or 4.5 percent. There have been 45 Presidents, but only 44 people have been President, since one was elected, then not re-elected and then elected again four years after that.

Of course, that's not the most interesting thing about Grover Cleveland. Do you know what is?

 TB will give you a few paragraphs about that one.

In the meantime, you have to agree about what TB said after a Princeton athlete who might become the U.S. President some day.

For today, TB once again endorses simply voting. 

And Grover Cleveland? 

He's actually buried in Princeton, in the cemetery across the street from the public library.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Bond, James Bond

When you ask TigerBlog about the coolest of the cool when it comes to movie stars, the clear top three to him have always been Paul Newman, Steve McQueen and James Garner.

If anyone ever made a run at them, it was Sean Connery.

The fiercely proud-to-be-Scottish actor passed away Saturday at the age of 90. He was named "The Sexiest Man Of the 20th Century" by People Magazine; TB will others to decide if that was the correct choice.

Connery, of course, is best known as the first person ever to play James Bond, something he did seven times. TigerBlog is a huge, huge fan of the Bond series, but really only when the hero was played by Connery or his successor, Roger Moore.

Connery was great in all of them, especially in "Goldfinger" and "Diamonds Are Forever." He stamped his coolness forever with his first-ever scene as Bond, though.

If you've never seen the first Bond movie, it's called Dr. No. If there had never been another Bond movie after that, "Dr. No" alone would have been a classic. 

In his first scene, Connery is in a casino, where he compliments a woman who is losing to him on her courage. Then he says "Miss, uh?," to which she responds "Trench, Sylvia Trench."

Then she tells him that she admires the still-unseen Connery's luck, following that by returning with a similar "Mr.? ..." 

Then the camera first turns to him, and he responds with, well, you already know what he responds with. 

If you don't, you can watch it here.

It's great, right?

Connery played many other roles besides Bond. His one and only Academy Award, in his one and only nomination, came when he played the tough Chicago cop in "The Untouchables" in 1987. In all, he made 77 movies, the last of which was in 2003.

TB's favorite non-Bond role? As the Russian submarine captain in "The Hunt For Red October."

In one of his roles, Connery played Henry Jones Sr., who was the father of Indiana Jones.

Henry Jones Sr. was also a professor of medieval studies at Princeton University. Since the movie "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" is set in 1938, then you can guess when it was that he taught at Princeton.

Perhaps Professor Jones was a Princeton football season ticket holder? 

If he was, then he saw Princeton teams that won national championships in 1933 and 1935. If he'd been there for 16 years by the time he left to chase the Holy Grail, then perhaps he saw the 1922 Team of Destiny.

Princeton had 17 varsity sports by 1938, all of which, obviously, were men's teams, since women still wouldn't be admitted for another 31 years yet. It was in 1925 that men's fencing became a varsity sport; surely there was a sword-fighting scene in one of those 77 movies.

TB tried to find a connection between Connery and Princeton, and that's the best he could come up with, that he played a Princeton professor in an Indiana Jones movie. TB has no idea if Connery was ever on the Princeton campus or anything like that. 

TB did a search of the senior thesis database, and nothing came up for Connery. The closest was Sean O'Casey, an Irish playwrite who had eight people write their thesis about his work. 

A search of the Daily Princetonian archives turned up 128 matches for "Sean Connery," but all 128 of them are either advertisements for movies showing on Nassau Street or reviews of other movies. There's no story about a time he actually was involved in something on campus, or at least if there is, TB didn't see it.

Maybe that's the best connection he had with Princeton.

If Connery ever was on the Princeton campus, TB couldn't find it. Connery, though, was on the campus many times, though not in person. 

Maybe the best connection is how much Princetonians, and everyone else, loved to see his movies. 

And now he's gone. He lived to be 90, going from leaving school at the age of 14, into the British Navy and eventually a stage debut on the West End in the chorus of "South Pacific." And then all of the amazing things he accomplished, on the screen and in real life.