Thursday, July 15, 2021

Seven Head Coaches, One Lockerroom

There are two follow-ups from yesterday's story about Peter Farrell and the 1988 4x800 relay team that finished seventh in the NCAA indoor championships.

First, TigerBlog mentioned that Farrell (cross country and track and field), Chris Sailer (lacrosse) and Susan Teeter (swimming and diving) are the only three who have coached a Princeton women's team for at least 30 years. TB said that "there are a lot of championships between those three."

He was asked what that exact number was. If you're talking Ivy League championships, the answer is 59, which is extraordinary. That's 27 for Farrell (nine cross country, nine indoor and nine outdoor), 17 for Teeter and 15 for Sailer, who is the only of three still active.

The other follow-up is what Farrell said about the women in the picture. Here is the picture again:

Farrell referred to the group as the "Mohair Express," as in "they had Mo' Hair than anyone else. Hey, it was the ’80s."

Hey, even TigerBlog had a lot of hair in the 1980s.

Speaking of pictures, TB finally was able to locate one from the 1990s. It came courtesy of Chuck Yrigoyen, who went from Princeton's Office of Athletic Communications to the Ivy League to being the commissioner of the American Rivers Conference, which until 2018 Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. 

As an aside, when TB saw the conference had renamed and rebranded itself, it made him think back to when Chuck joked about how the Ivy League should rename itself "The Big Ivy." 

Chuck has spent 13 years as the commissioner of the league. To most people around here, it's hard to think of Chuck without first thinking of the Ivy League, for whom he worked for 19 years, or Princeton, where he worked from 1983-89 (and where TB first met him). TigerBlog replaced Chuck's replacement, Mark Panus, when he made the shift from the newspaper business to Princeton's OAC.

TB recently received a text message from Chuck, who said that he was sending a bunch of old Princeton men's basketball stuff TB's way. Most of it was from the Princeton-Georgetown game, the classic first round matchup from the 1989 NCAA tournament.

There were some other things in the package. One of them was this picture:

This is, of course, the iconic moment when Pete Carril announced his retirement to a stunned Princeton team after the Tigers defeated Penn in the 1996 Ivy League playoff game. It was five days before Princeton defeated UCLA in the NCAA tournament.

TigerBlog was the first person to see the words, and he knows he made sure there was a picture of it. This was before people could simply use their phones to take pictures, so TB had to track down either the office camera or a photographer. 

Perhaps the most astonishing thing about the lockerroom that night at Lehigh (and all of that season) is that there were six people who would at some point be the Princeton head men's basketball coach and a seventh who would be an assistant coach and then an Ivy League head coach.

There was Carril, obviously. There were the three names on the blackboard, all of whom became the head coach. There were three players on the team who became head coaches as well.

Sydney Johnson was the 1996 captain. He'd coach Princeton after Scott, who took over for Thompson, who took over for Carmody. Johnson, when he left in 2011, was replaced by Mitch Henderson, the current head coach. Brian Earl would be a Princeton assistant before becoming the head coach at Cornell.

All six who would coach Princeton have coached in the NCAA tournament, five of whom did so with the Tigers. Scott, who did not reach the NCAAs in his three years at Princeton, did lead Air Force to the NCAA tournament after winning the 2004 Mountain West Conference. Air Force, by the way, would play at the same regional that year as Princeton, as both were in Denver. 

And all seven of those guys were part of the 1997 Tigers. And the 1996 Tigers as well. 

How many other teams have ever matched that legacy? 

No wonder those Princeton teams were so incredible.

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