Thursday, August 31, 2023

Pressure Is A Privilege

Tonight is the start of a two-day Princeton-Rutgers soccer carnival on Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium.

It starts this evening at 7, when the women's teams play. Tomorrow night, also at 7, it'll be the men's teams. 

As you know from a few weeks ago, Princeton is 551-334-28 all-time against Rutgers in all sports. This year the Princeton women are 2-0, while the Rutgers women are 2-1-1. The Princeton men will be playing their first game, and Rutgers is 0-1-1.

All of this will happen not that far from Queens, which is the site of the U.S. Open tennis championships, which started this week. The main character so far is someone who isn't even playing.

That would be Billie Jean King, who gave so much of her career to the advancement of women's tennis as a whole. If you've been watching the matches, you've seen that the USTA is proudly commemorating that this is the 50th anniversary of equal pay for women's players at the Open.

King, of course, is the person most responsible for that, and for pretty much every advancement that current women athletes enjoy. She is most deserving of the commercial that celebrates her career that has been playing on the telecasts.

If you look closely, you can see the "Pressure Is A Privilege" sign that flashes. When TigerBlog saw that, he was instantly reminded of last fall, when King met with the Princeton field hockey team prior to a game. 

During her talk, she emphasized those words, "Pressure Is A Privilege," which was basically the keystone of her message. That, and her other favorite saying: "Champions Adjust."

The start of the U.S. Open always coincides with the end of the summer and the beginning of the NFL season. In fact, the tournament ends on the opening Sunday of the NFL season, which in this case is a week from Sunday.

As TB has been saying, this past Tuesday was the deadline for NFL teams to cut their rosters down to 53. In years past, teams had a first cut and a second cut, but this year teams went from 90 to 53 in one shot. 

For Princeton football, there were four players in training camps this summer, two of whom made active rosters and two of whom were cut. The two who made their teams were Andrei Iosivas of Cincinnati, who was a total lock after the summer he's had, and Jesper Horsted, who battled through injuries to make the Las Vegas roster. 

The raves for Iosivas continue to pour in, including this from a Sports Illustrated story:

All in all, Iosivas oozes natural ability as a receiver. His athleticism and body control are top notch and together make for a deadly combination. While he’s not yet fully developed as a receiver, he’s further along than many expected him to be at this stage in his career. 

As TB said the other day, it'll be very interesting to see how the Bengals use him on game days. 

The two who were not as fortunate were Stephen Carlson and Henry Byrd. There's still hope, though, as the cuts do not mean the end of roster movement. Far from it.

First of all, there is the waiver period, when teams can sign players other team's released. Of course, if you sign someone, then you have to release someone else. TB guesses this is worse than getting cut Tuesday; you think you've made it, and suddenly you haven't.

There is also the practice squad. What are the rules for the practice squad, which is exactly what you'd think it would? Teams can have as many as 16 practice squad players, of which 10 have to be players with less than two years of service. The others can be veterans of any tenure.

How much do they make? The first group makes $12,000 per week. The second group makes between $16,100 and $20,600 per week. More than that, it also keeps you in the game.

Players on practice squads can be signed by other teams to their active rosters. There are also rules about moving players up and down between active rosters and practice squads and signing players off the practice squad of your next opponent, simply to get information.

Carlson was signed to the Bears' practice squad the minute the signing period opened. Byrd was not signed to the Broncos' practice squad but he seems likely to be picked up by another team.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Out Of The Trap

Math question: If a picture is worth 1,000 words and the average word count here each day is between 700 and 800 words, how much of a picture does TigerBlog need to post?

In this case, he'll paste the whole picture, which should in turn tell the whole story about how his foursome did at the Princeton Friends of Lacrosse golf outing. TB will say that it's possible that he and his group made golf history:


In case you can't tell, that's a sand trap, and those are four golf balls that all made their way into said bunker late in the round. Has that ever happened before? Anywhere? On any level? 

Hey, for the record, all four got out of the trap on the first try, so that's something at least. 

What did TB shoot? He has no idea. He stopped counting after about 14 holes. He can say that he hit enough good shots to make him think he could be good and so many bad shots that he knows he never will be.

He also knows that other than three shots (two with a 3-wood on par-5s and a six-iron on a par-3), he played the entire round with just three clubs: a 5-wood, a pitching wedge and a putter. The two shots with the 3-wood went about 30 yards or so combined, and the tee shot with the 6-iron, which came on the closest to the pin hole, drifted about

His group included Phil Gaffney of the Class of 1965 and the Ughetta brothers, Rob (Class of 1989) and Ted (Class of 1990). 

They didn't exactly win anything, though Ted came close to Mark Whaling, Class of 1998 and an All-Ivy pick in football and lacrosse, for longest drive. Had there been contests for "longest round," then they would have won, as they ended up as the only ones on the course after about five hours. The same is true for "most words spoken between shots," and, as TB thinks about it, the latter explains the former (and also explains why two groups played through).

The golf outing isn't about playing big-time golf, of course. These are highly competitive athletes, though, and the desire to win every time out never goes away. 

But no, it wasn't about who won. It was about friendships, those that formed from being teammates either recently or decades ago, and those that formed on the course. It's what being part of a program is all about — relationships.

Prior to Monday, TB had never met Gaffney or the Ughettas. They had never met each other (the brothers obviously had). By the end of the round, they had talked about countless people they all had in common, even sometimes separated by a generation or two.

For instance, a teammate of Phil's, also Class of 1965, had a daughter who went to Andover with the two brothers. It was that kind of day.

By the time the round was over, the other three had figured out that TB was something of an expert on the history of the lacrosse program. Or perhaps a little odd, in that each time an alum's name came up and they asked TB if he knew where they were from, he obviously did. 

The day began with lunch and ended with dinner. There wasn't much in the way of a formal program, just a few words from head coach Matt Madalon and Friends' Group president Greg Seaman. Ford Family Director of Athletics John Mack was there before the golf to say hello and meet some of the alums whose names he knew but had never actually met. TB is reasonably sure that if he had it to do all over again, Mack would have tried lacrosse instead of track and field. 

Most importantly, at least from TB's standpoint, was the love shown by everyone there for Bryce Chase, who has been with the program for more than 60 years, and Bryce's late wife Phyllis. You could tell the emotions were genuine, and you could also tell just how much Bryce and Phyllis mean to everyone there. How big is that for Bryce as he goes forward? Very.  

TigerBlog, as you have probably surmised, is no golfer, but the lacrosse golf outing is one of his favorite days of the year. He knew most of the people there long before Monday, and now he's added some others to the group.

Now multiply this out by alumni functions in every Princeton sport, and you start to get a pretty good idea of how positive, how formative, how long-lasting the athletic experience is. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Game Week

TigerBlog needed to copy 57 rather large video files from one server to another over the weekend.

If he tried to do this from a spot off-campus, it might have taken until November or so. As it was, as he started copying them, the progress bar started calculating how long it would take. An hour. Two hours. Three hours. 

No big deal, right? Progress bars always do that. Then they usually make their way down, usually ending up somewhere between two minutes and 20 minutes. This time? It got to two hours and stayed there.

For the next two hours, TigerBlog sat on a bench in front of Morrison Hall, doing some work and watching the people go by. During his time there, five different people came and sat down on the bench opposite his, and four of them had brought food with them. Each time TB asked the what they'd gotten for him. He got one "it's a surprise" and four strange looks. 

It was also a parade of dogs, one after another, ranging from tiny dogs with tiny legs to the biggest poodle TB has ever seen. Turns out it was a combination poodle/Bernese mountain dog. Either way, he was a big dog. There was also one little dog who was being pushed along in a baby stroller, while another dog walked on a leash and thought "hey, why does he get to sit in there and I have to do all this work?"

The videos were the ones that were taken during picture day two weeks ago of the field hockey players. TB will be turning them into short clips to use on social media as the season goes along. 

The total size of all of them combined was 21GB. When TB first started here, he was pretty happy when they came out with 44MB floppy disks. That's MB, not GB. Those were the days — of very small files. Graphics? Not yet a staple of every day for athletic communications.

These days, graphics are very much the norm, and TB would guess that 90 percent or so of people who work in college athletic communications spend more time making graphics than they do writing (TB would be in the 10 percent). He does make his share of graphics, including a series for the field hockey team for this week entitled "Meet The Tigers," where each of the 21 players on the team gets a graphic. 

Included for each player is a "fun fact," and these have ranged from "I have eaten the same thing for lunch every day since I've been at Princeton" to "I was a national chess champion at age 10" to "I still sleep with my baby blanket" to "I can juggle" and even "I can juggle while on a skateboard." 

This is game week for the field hockey team, the first of the 2023 season, as the Tigers open their season at Penn against Lousville (Friday at 11) and North Carolina (Sunday at 10:30). 

It's also game week No. 1 for the men's soccer team, the men's water polo team, the women's volleyball team, the men's and women's cross country teams and the women's rugby team.

In all, there will be 14 events between Thursday and Tuesday, starting with the third women's soccer game of the season. The women's soccer team is the only team to have started its season to date, and the Tigers put together a 2-0 start over the weekend by outscoring Monmouth and La Salle by a combined 8-0.

Next up for Princeton is Rutgers Thursday night at 7. The Scarlet Knights are l-1-1 on the year, with a win over Holy Cross, a loss to Hofstra and a tie with North Carolina State. 

Of the 14 events, a total of six are at home, with two cross country meets and four soccer games. The men will host Rutgers Friday night at 7 in their first game, and then the women will host Army Saturday. What? No game on Myslik Field Sunday? That's okay: Duke's men will be there Monday at 4. 

The women's volleyball team, who plays at Bucknell over the weekend, hosts Santa Clara a week from today. 

The preseason for any team is an interesting dynamic. It begins with hellos, hugs and how-was-your-summers. Then it gets serious quickly, but there is always something missing — until it's actually game week. 

Then things get more intense and more real. The emotions get ratcheted up a bit. 

That's where most of Princeton's fall teams are this week. It's game week, and they can't wait to get started.

Monday, August 28, 2023

Lost And Found

TigerBlog is not a great golfer.

He's not even a good golfer. Apparently, he's also an absent-minded golfer.

TB's golf game would be better if he played more than once a year, he assumes. On the other hand, that one day is today, when TB makes his annual appearance at the Friends of Princeton Lacrosse golf outing.

It's a great day, really. It's a chance to see a lot of people he doesn't get to see that often. There is food and fun and looking ahead to the coming fall season, with the 2024 lacrosse seasons looming beyond.

And there is the matter of playing 18 holes. TB can hit an iron. He can make a putt every now and then. Beyond that? He can't hit a wood, and his short game is awful.

Of course, to improve, he'd actually have to own golf clubs, something he does not do. For his yearly appearance at Springdale, he borrows clubs from his friend Todd's son Matthew, who also doesn't play that often. 

Meanwhile, TigerBlog had this blue light pullover top that said "NCAA Lacrosse" on it. Other than his Princeton stuff, this was his favorite. And then one day it vanished.

He looked everywhere in his house. He thought it might be in his Jadwin office. Nope. Maybe in a suitcase in a closet. Nothing. It was just gone. In his mind, he wondered if Mrs. Blog had gotten rid of it in an act of trimming TB's wardrobe. She denied it, but maybe? ...

Yesterday morning, TigerBlog called up Todd to remind him that he needed the clubs for the golf outing. This was an actual conversation:

"Hey, by the way. Matthew played last week for the first time in a long time, and you know what he found in one of the pockets of the bag?"
"A blue NCAA lacrosse pullover."

Oh yeah. That's where it was.

And so the blue pullover is back in the sea of orange and black that is TB's closet. He'll let you know tomorrow how he does as a golfer. 

Speaking of orange and black closets, TB presumes that nobody has more of it than Andrei Iosivas, who went from playing football and running track and field at Princeton to being a sixth-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals. 

Will he be keeping his Bengals' gear after Tuesday, when NFL teams are required to cut down from a training camp-max of 90 players to 53 in advance of Week1? After the training camp and preseason that Iosivas had, he has a zero percent change of being released. Well, make that pretty much zero, but it would still be shocking to see his name on the waiver wire.

TigerBlog read a bunch of roster projections, and they all have Iosivas as one of the either six or seven wide receivers Cincinnati will keep. 

Here are two samples: 

"Something had to give when the Bengals drafted Charlie Jones and Andre Iosivas. The latter has looked way, way ahead of schedule."
"Both wide receivers Cincinnati drafted should easily make the roster. Iosivas has shown the ability to make contested catches and will give the Bengals extra depth at outside receiver."

Iosivas was one of five NFL wide receivers to have at least 12 preseason receptions, and he finished the three games with 12 catches for 129 yards and a TD, which came in the preseason finale against Washington Saturday night. He was millimeters away from another TD in Week 1, when one of his feet microscopically caught the sideline after a diving end zone grab.

For Iosivas, the question isn't whether he'll make the team; it's what his role on gamedays will be.

Princeton's other two receivers in NFL camps both made their cases to make the final cuts — which aren't necessarily final, by the way, since a ton of roster changes are made leading up to the opener once teams see who are available. 

Jesper Horsted, who has battled injuries in the preseason, was targeted three times and made receptions on all three, for 28 yards, in the Las Vegas Raiders' 31-16 loss to Dallas. Stephen Carlson had three catches of his own for 41 yards as the Chicago Bears lost to Buffalo 24-21.

Horsted looks like he'll be the team's third tight end. Carlson is the fourth tight end on a team that would probably keep three, but he's a veteran with an established record of being valuable on special teams. 

The fourth Princeton grad in an NFL camp has been offensive lineman Henry Byrd with the Broncos, who seems to be a lock to be cut and then signed to the practice squad.

Friday, August 25, 2023

Start Your Engines

When TigerBlog first broke into the newspaper business, he was covering local high school football.

Every Friday night and Saturday afternoon, he'd cover a game, and every time it ended, he'd get the same quotes from the coaches: 

* "They have a great team over there."
* "Our kids played hard."
* "Their kids played hard."
* "He runs a great program."

It didn't matter if the score was 21-20 or 56-0. It didn't matter if you won or lost. Every coach always said the same things, over and over and over. Eventually, TB stopped interviewing coaches.

Since that start, TB has been fortunate to be around some coaches who gave great quotes, funny quotes, off-beat quotes, eccentric quotes. What you don't usually get are honest quotes.

When Princeton was picked as a unanimous preseason favorite in the 1998 Ivy League men's basketball poll, Bill Carmody's simple response was "we should be." That was honest.

A few years earlier, Pete Carril was asked about his team's success in defending a high-scoring Dartmouth team. His quote: "They have guardable players, and we guarded them." Again, honest.

The problem with honesty is that it calls out someone, some team or some issue, and coaches never want to give the other team something to motivate them. That's why honesty stands out.

To that end, you really have to hand it to North Carolina women's soccer coach Anson Dorrance for his comments on whether or not he wants Stanford and Cal to join the ACC. Did you see what he said? 

Women’s Soccer HC Anson Dorrance acknowledges that adding Stanford and Cal to the ACC would be a “wonderful feather in the cap of our commissioner, but for us, with boots on the ground, no. This is going to be horrible for us. Our budgets aren’t extraordinary as it is, and now we would try to add in flights across the country to play these two schools, which will be incredibly expensive and then the fact that now we're exposing the whole country – not that Stanford and Cal don't have a national recruiting platform, of course they do – but if you put those two schools in the ACC, it's going to be so easy for them to recruit nationally. So, it'll just benefit them in my opinion, not us. We've built the best women's soccer conference in the country, and there's no way I want to share the glory of our conference with two schools that could do a very good job recruiting against us, and so basically I want Cal and Stanford to die on the vine. I look forward to seeing Stanford, which is a very difficult school to recruit against, I would look forward to them basically having it be so difficult for them to recruit the elite soccer player and then we would be in a position to obviously gain those kids and put the ACC in an even stronger position.”

Now that's really honest. Maybe a bit too honest? Of course, when you've won as many NCAA titles as Dorrance has (21 of them), you can say things like that. Geno Auriemma with UConn women's basketball is the same, to his great credit.

One of the greatest moments in Princeton women's athletic history came with Dorrance on the losing end, when Sean Driscoll's Princeton team defeated UNC 2-1 in overtime in the round-of-16 of the 2017 NCAA tournament. 

Driscoll and his Tigers open their 2023 season tonight at 7:30 on Mylsik Field at Roberts Stadium when they host Monmouth. In addition to being the women's soccer opener, it's also the first of more than 600 events for the 2023-24 athletic year at Princeton.

Each year is its own animal, with more unlikely storylines than likely ones that will play out during the next nine-plus months. Who is the athlete who makes the biggest jump? What freshmen will make immediate impacts? Which teams will be the ones who make history? 

Come May, who will win the Roper Trophy and von Kienbusch Award? What will be the biggest game of the year? What will be the biggest heartbreak? 

Each year at Princeton has had more than its share of wins, championships, big moments, historical performances. As TB always says, it's not something to ever take for granted. It's not Princeton's right to win the way it traditionally has, and there have been some down years, at least by Princeton standards.

On opening night, though, anything is possible. 

Princeton's 1,000 athletes across 38 sports are all at the starting line tonight. It's time for the opening kickoff.

It's why you work in college athletics.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Graphic Language

The women's basketball team did something in Barcelona that the men's lacrosse team did not, though TigerBlog wishes it had.

What is it? Carla Berube's team, currently on the first leg of its 10-day European trip, did a paella cooking class. How great does that sound? 

Forget that. How great does this look?

Had TB known they were going to do that, he might have flown back just to be a part of it. There aren't too many things he likes more than paella, especially genuine Spanish paella.

Much, much closer to home, if you walk from the Stadium Drive parking garage towards Jadwin Gym, you immediately come to the new soccer practice field. 

The best time to make this walk is when either the men's or women's team is practicing and the goalkeepers are doing drills at the goal closest to the Roberts Stadium side, as TigerBlog did yesterday. 

If that's the case, then you are about 10 feet away from the goal as the shooters take their shots. If gives you a great sense of what it would like to be the goalkeeper, for better and worse.

As TB walked by yesterday morning, he saw men's goalkeeper coach Sam Maira as he worked out the Tigers. In that short time, TB realized that the only saves he would make would be on really, really, really soft shots or if the ball happened to hit him. In the latter case, he'd probably prefer it didn't.

You may recall TB wrote a story this past spring about the lives and minds of goalkeepers. If not, you can read it HERE.

It includes this:

In the world of goalies, either you are one, or you are not one. 

After TB walked a few more yards past the soccer practice on his left, he came upon football practice on his right. Football practices are wild to watch. The level of organization that goes into putting together even one session to maximize its worth is wild. 

If you think it just happens accidentally, it doesn't. A playbook that has dozens and dozens of plays needs to be practiced to the most minute detail. What you see on gamedays is no fluke.

One thing you definitely see on gamedays nowadays is the Game Day graphic. You've seen these across all sports for years now, on the college and pro — and even high school — levels.

These graphics feature the posed shots of the athletes from the various teams, along with whatever the opponent, location and time are for that particular event. They've become a huge deal for everyone involved.

Last week on the Jadwin E Level tennis courts, photographers Greg Carroccio and Ryan Samson took thousands and thousands of pictures of Princeton's fall teams. Those pictures, once they're all sorted and organized, will be used on Game Day graphics and countless other items of content.

In fact, it was something of an assembly line of photography, and, on the other side of the fence, in the Pit, videography, where similar poses and smiles were being done at the same time. The general tone of the event is festive, and it was hard to go more than a minute or so without hearing laughter. 

For the athletes, there are few moments that they seem to enjoy as much as picture day. There are classic "look at the camera and smile" poses, and there are any range of colorful, creative and sometimes crazy poses involving individuals and groups of players.

There was this one, for instance, with Tiger junior field hockey players Clare Brennan, Aimee Jungfer and Lily Webb: 

For the fall freshmen, this was, TB presumes, the first time they got to wear their actual game uniforms. That's a big thrill.

For everyone else, it's a sign that they're all back together and the season and school are approaching. It creates a different feel on the campus, with an energy building as the summer draws to a close. 

Those pictures serve all sorts of important purposes, and not only for Princeton Athletics. TB is guessing that there are quite a few of them framed in houses and on desks.

Being an athlete at Princeton is about having a championship experience, in the classroom, on the field and off the field. It's about building relationships and having moments that you'll remember for decades.

Photo day fits into that profile perfectly.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

On Sale Now


TigerBlog went to the women's basketball team's social media accounts yesterday to see what was new on the trip to Spain and Greece.

The first picture he saw was of the team in front of a large arch in Barcelona. TB knew it well; he was on that exact same spot in October with the men's lacrosse team. 

In fact, the post mentioned three things that the women's basketball team had done since it arrived: walking tour of La Sagrada Familia, bike tour of downtown and Las Ramblas and Barcelona Beach. The men's lacrosse team did all of those as well.

The trips aren't exactly the same. The women are off to Greece after Barcelona, while the lacrosse trip started out in Andorra, about three hours north of Barcelona. 

TB was in Greece once. It was back in 1974, when he went with his family. If you know much about what wsa going on with the Greeks at that time, you know that they were in a war with Turkey over the island of Cyprus. 

At the time that this all started, TB and his family were in Istanbul, hoping to get to Athens. It was not the easiest itinerary to work out, as TB recalls, but in the end, they did get there. Among his memories are all of the Turks wondering why anyone would want to go to Greece and all the Greeks glad that people had left Turkey.

He hasn't been back to either country since, but hey, maybe one day. As for the women's basketball team, it'll be in Greece later this week.

These international trips are amazing experiences for everyone involved. TB has been fortunate enough to be included on four of them to date.

In addition to the chance to be together as a team while experiencing foreign cultures and locations, it's also a chance to practice and compete in advance of the upcoming season. There will be three games for the women to play on the journey before returning to Princeton Tuesday.

Both the Princeton men and women enter the 2023-24 season off of extraordinary postseason moments. The women defeated North Carolina State in the first round of the NCAA tournament on a Grace Stone three-pointer in the final seconds, marking the second straight year and third time in the last seven seasons that the team has won its opening round NCAA game.

Prior to that, the Ivy League as a whole had exactly one NCAA win all-time.

As for the men, they won a pair of NCAA games, taking down Arizona and Missouri to reach the Sweet 16 as a 15th seed. 

What's easy to forget is that neither team was a lock to get to the postseason. Both had to win the league's automatic NCAA bid at the Ivy League tournament, and both teams were pushed hard to do so, both in the regular season and in the Ivy Madness.

As with any dream season, turning the page is not easy. You want to get back to that level of intensity, excitement and high stakes, obviously. You also never want to forget the run you just had.

At the same time, you're back at the beginning. There are informal workouts. Official practice is a few weeks away. There are missing faces, new faces and a new team dynamic.  

The Princeton men announced their schedule last week, and tickets are now on sale, as of yesterday. The link for more information is above.

Princeton's schedule includes three games in Mercer County before the first week of December ends. It starts with the game against Rutgers at the CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton, and then there will be three Jadwin games to follow.

The first is on Nov. 25 against Northeastern (when you come to that game, wish happy birthday to ticket queen Stephanie Sutton), whom Princeton beat 56-54 in the final of the tournament in London last November. The third game is Dec. 5 against Drexel, whom Princeton defeated in Philadelphia a year ago.

In between is Dec. 2 against Furman, a team Princeton has never before played. You know who has played Furman? Virginia, whom Furman defeated last year in the opening round of the NCAA tournament for its 28th win of the season.

The Ivy opener for Princeton is Jan. 6 against Harvard in Jadwin. The complete schedule is HERE.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Traveling Tigres

To start your Tuesday, here is some fairly wholesome content. 

In fact, you might call it some All-American content, All-American in the Cambridge Dictionary sense of the term: Considered to be typical of the U.S., and respected and approved of by Americans. Wholesome. Healthy. Hard-working.

Of course, the flag is a dead giveaway that the whole "American" part isn't exactly accurate in this case, but you get the idea:

Those are three Princeton field hockey freshmen, from left: Lydia Bills, Ottilie Sykes and Ella Cashman. Clearly, they are English, coming from the King's School of Chester (Bills), the Repton School (Sykes) and the Tiffin School for Girls (Cashman).

In all, the Tiger field hockey team has 21 players this year, and seven of them are from England. They were probably all disappointed Sunday morning, and it had nothing to do with field hockey.

The English women's soccer team, known as the Lionesses, reached the final of the Women's World Cup, only to fall 1-0 to Spain in Sunday's championship game. If you watched it, you know that the Spanish were by far the better team that day, with uncanny passing that led to a huge edge in possession time and very few chances for the English. 

In fact, it could easily have been 3-0 had England goalkeeper Mary Eaps not just gotten her hand on a shot that she deflected off the post just before the end of the half and not stopped a penalty kick in the second half. 

Two days before that game, TigerBlog walked out of Jadwin Gym Friday afternoon with Princeton women's head basketball coach Carla Berube and assistant coach Lauren Battista when they informed TB that the team was heading off on a European trip the next morning. Their first stop? Barcelona. 

TB was there this past October on the men's lacrosse team's trip, which also included a stop in Andorra. The women's basketball players are going from Barcelona to Greece for the second part of their week.

Of course, the Tigers were in Barcelona during the final and for the aftermath of the Spanish win. Was it craziness, TB asked the two coaches?

Nope. It was nothing. You couldn't even tell that anything had happened, Berube said. How is that possible? It's because, as TB learned when he was there and Berube reminded him, Barcelona is in Catalonia, which has its own version of the language and would love to be an independent nation.

Still, a bunch of the Spanish women play for Barcelona. TB expected some sort of celebration there, no? The rest of the country appeared to be all in on it. This is from an AP story he saw:

The celebrations were not comparable to those after the men's World Cup title, but the gatherings to support the women's team were still significant. There were viewing parties organized by local officials in more than 100 cities across Spain. In Madrid, fans watched the final in bars throughout the city and at an arena where a big screen was set up for nearly 7,000 people who signed up in advance for free tickets.

Oh, and the woman who scored the goal for Spain? Olga Carmona? She found out after the game that her father had passed away. If you saw her reaction to the goal, it was to honor the mother of a friend of hers, who also recently passed away.

As for the women's basketball team, there are three games on the schedule during the trip. There are also tourist and educational opportunities, and the women already have done two of the things that the men's lacrosse team did: visit La Sagrada Familia and do a bike tour through the city. 

If you recall from what TB wrote last fall, he'd never been to Barcelona before and he isn't usually a city guy, but Barcelona is a special place.

The foreign trip, which teams are allowed to take once every four years, allowed the Tigers to come back to campus a bit early for some extra practice time. It also is a great bonding experience for a team, especially one that already has such a winning culture in place.

The women's basketball Twitter feed is a great place to keep up with their travels.

Monday, August 21, 2023

Head Coach Abby Brethauer

Abby Brethauer Named Women's Swimming and Diving Coach

There's a new Tiger head coach, and that always makes for big news here. 

First, though, there's the matter of this little greeting: Happy Birthday BrotherBlog.

TigerBlog knows his brother checks up here to see what's going on with Princeton Athletics. He'll often check in from the other side of the country, Seattle, to be exact, and send a text message or email suggesting he read up on that particular day's entry.

The only issue is that TB isn't sure that his brother reads every day or just checks up at the end of a week or every few days. If he does read every day, then this is your birthday card. If not, then it's still your birthday card. 

Either way, TB will be calling to send him the best and to remind him that no matter how old TB gets, his brother will always be two years older.

He's a good man, BrotherBlog. His heart is certainly in the right place. He's always been a better student than TB, which explains his master's degree and then J.D. from the University of Washington, where he is now on the faculty. 

He's never been a huge sports fan, but he has made an effort in recent years to become more into the Seattle pro teams and the Huskies. He even goes to some games. And he can always say that he saw his nephew and his niece play lacrosse.

TigerBlog will celebrate his brother's birthday by going to the dentist. His last checkup was six months ago, and when he left, he scheduled the one for today, thinking that he'd remember he had to go to the dentist on his brother's birthday. Of course, he completely forgot that until he got the text reminder last week.

TB starts the week at the dentist. The week ends with the start of the 2023-24 athletic year at Princeton, as the women's soccer team hosts Monmouth Friday night at 7:30.

This coming athletic year will see two new head coaches for the Tigers. Jason Vigilante, as you know by now, takes over for the legendary Fred Samara as the head coach of the men's track and field program.

And there will also be a new head coach of the women's swimming and diving team. Like Vigilante, the new head coach is well known already within the program after having been an assistant coach at Princeton before this.

Abby Brethauer was a Tiger assistant for the last two seasons, though she worked with the men's program. She is now the head coach of the women's team, the seventh head coach of the women's team. 

She replaces Bret Lundergaard, who left to become the head coach at the University of Kentucky. Brethaurer worked under men's head coach Matt Crispino, which makes his thoughts on the hire quite valuable:

There is no one better suited to lead Princeton women’s swimming & diving program than Abby Brethauer. For the last two years, she has been instrumental to the success of our men’s team. Abby is a world class coach with a deep understanding of Princeton and the Ivy League. But more importantly, Abby is the right person for the job — she is compassionate, invests fully in the people she coaches, and will provide an environment for each woman to thrive in and out of the pool. I could not be more proud of Abby and honored to continue sharing the pool deck with her.”

That's certainly saying a great deal. 

Brethauer's swimming resume includes being a 13-time All-American at Kenyon College, where she was part of three NCAA championship teams. She spent eight years as the head coach at Mary Washington, with an earlier stop at Columbia and then another at Tufts. While at Mary Washington she won 10 conference Coach of the Year Awards, six with the men and four with the women.

Princeton's women are the defending Ivy League champion. The Princeton men finished the year ranked 24th nationally a year ago. 

Women's swimming and diving is one of the most successful sports Princeton has ever had. The team dates to the first year of women's athletics at Princeton, when swimmer Jane Fremon and diver Cece Herron were the entire team all by themselves. 

The Ivy title won a year ago was the 24th in program history. That figure is more than twice what any other Ivy school has, and it trails only field hockey for Ivy titles by a Princeton women's team. 

Brethauer is well-liked and well-respected among the swim programs, and the department as a whole. Now she takes over as the head coach. It's the latest step in a career that has been devoted to the sport and to what Princeton calls Education Through Athletics.

She seems to be the perfect fit.

Friday, August 18, 2023

Yo, Yo, Yo, Yoshi

TigerBlog flew out to Dayton earlier this week.

Actually, he drove from here to Washington, D.C., met up with TigerBlog Jr. and flew from Reagan National to Dayton. That's where Miss TigerBlog ’22 lives these days. 

The occasion was her birthday. TB said he would come out and see her, but he didn't mention that he'd talked TBJ into coming as well. When she saw her brother outside her apartment, she sprinted over to him and gave him a huge hug.

It was a wonderful scene. TB would call it a top 10 all-time moment between the two of them. 

It was a really quick visit. Out one day, back the next. The flight itself is about an hour, but that doesn't take into account that TB then had to drive back from D.C. after they landed. 

Oh well. MTB appreciated it. And TB still gets chills thinking about the way his children hugged each other. 

Also, there was the matter of the flight out there and the pilot.

As is the case on all flights, the captain came on beforehand to say how long it would take, what the weather was, all the usual. In this case, he said that there was a chance the flight could be rerouted to Louisville because of thunderstorms in the Dayton area, but he didn't think that would be the case.

His exact words: "We'll get you to Dayton in time for a Reds' win tonight and then hopefully a Bengals' Super Bowl win this winter."

As it turned out, the plane landed in Dayton without much fuss. When it came time to get off, TB decided he wanted to stop by the cockpit and ask the captain a question. Is that allowed? Would he end up in TSA detention? 

As he approached the front of the plane, he asked the flight attendant if he could ask the pilot a question. The flight attendant then made sure it was okay, and TB stepped forward, pretty certain that the pilot was expecting a question about aviation. Instead, there was this actual conversation:

TB: Cincinnati fan, huh?
Pilot: A huge one.
TB: What do you think of Andrei Iosivas?
Pilot: Love him. He's the missing piece to the Super Bowl. 

Iosivas has certainly resonated with Bengals fans in a very short time. He also seems to be a popular teammate, even if there is some issue with the pronunciation of his last name in the Cincinnati lockerroom.

When Iosivas first arrived at Princeton, TB assumed his name would be pronounced "EYE-oh-see-vas," sort of like it's spelled. Instead, when TB asked him, Iosivas said it was "YO-see-vosh." 

Princeton fans quickly figured that out. It's taking his new Orange and Black team a little longer to get up to speed, as you can see in this outstanding video:

Yoshi. That works. Yo-Yo-Yo-Yoshi. Pete Carril would have loved it.

Yoshi's next chance to make an impression comes tonight, when the Bengals take on the Falcons in Atlanta at 7:30. 

Elsewhere, Princeton's NFL contingent all play tomorrow: Denver's Henry Byrd (at San Francisco), Chicago's Stephen Carlson (at Indianapolis) and Las Vegas' Jesper Horsted (at the Los Angeles Rams).

This is the time of year when TB checks the transactions and team webpages, hoping to find them all still there. So far, those four are all hanging in.

He's also looking to see where John Lovett might land. Lovett, the only two-time Bushnell Cup winner in Princeton football history, was released by the Dolphins after he decided not to go on the season-ending injured reserve list. Of course, if you do a search for "John Lovett NFL," you'll learn there are two of them who are trying to make an NFL team, as the other John Lovett – who played at Baylor and Penn State — was just released by the Steelers.

There's also a coach named John Lovett, who coached under both Buddy Teevens and Tim Murphy at Miami and Cincinnati. 

And that's it for this week. 

Princeton Athletics 2023-24 begins one week from today, with women's soccer at home against Monmouth. Almost everyone gets going the following weekend. 

In the meantime? Enjoy the weekend.

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Myslik Madness

TigerBlog has been meaning to share something with you since his time this summer in England. 

What is it? Well, it's the funniest exit sign he's ever seen.

As you probably know, in England you drive on the left side of the road, with the steering wheel on the right side of the car. Adding to the challenge, TB's rental car, er, hire car, as they say there, was a manual, which means he had to shift with his left hand. 

Try that on one of the roundabouts there.

Roundabouts? Roads in England are divided into highways, which are called Motorways, and then next-level roads, secondary roads and lastly those roads that only have room for one car at a time and are surrounded by huge hedgerows. 

There are very few traffic lights, but there are lots and lots of roundabouts, which are essentially small traffic circles. You always yield to the right, and you have to downshift while you change lanes, otherwise you'll be driving in circles. TB's record for going around a roundabout is three times.

The Motorways are numbered. The M25 is like the Beltway outside DC, as it 1) circles London and 2) is never without traffic. 

The M3 takes you to the South, but first it goes past three fairly unrelated landmarks — except that someone decided that they needed to only print up one exit sign for all three. That would be this:


Seriously? You couldn't have made a separate sign for Windsor Castle? It needed to share with Legoland and a racetrack, even if it's a snooty one? 

What was it that Eliza sang to Professor Higgins at the end of "My Fair Lady?" "Windsor Castle will stand without you; Legoland will be grand without you?"

Having said that, the three biggest things in English sports this summer since Wimbledon ended have been the Ashes cricket matches, the Women's World Cup and the start of another English Premier League season. 

For the life of him, TB does not understand the lure of watching cricket, but the English love it. They also love the EPL; stories about the coming season dominated every newspaper and sportscast, even with it was still a few weeks away. 

The big topic? The expanded amount of stoppage time that will be added at the end of each half, to correspond with the time that teams are not playing, including goal celebrations and such. In preseason games, this went up to as many as 13 minutes in a half. The players, who were not consulted, are not happy.

As for the women's soccer, the Lionesses, as they are known there, took down host Australia 3-1 in the semifinals Wednesday, setting up the World Cup final between England and Spain Sunday. It starts at 5 am Eastern time; everyone who woke up early for the Royal Wedding in 1981 are required to watch.

The Lionesses are huge in England, especially after they won the European championship last year. Their success comes in a soccer-mad nation that has not won a men's World Cup since 1966. If England wins (or as they say in England, "if England win"), the entire country will erupt in celebration.

As with the men, the women have the same format, which means two 45-minute halves and then stoppage time. In the event of a tie in the knockout rounds, teams then play two 15-minute periods (regardless of whether someone scores or not and then go to penalty kicks if it's still tied.

American college soccer has better rules in both of those instances. First, why would it be so hard for the referee to stop the game clock by signalling to the clock operator, therefore making the time on the scoreboard accurate and official? It works in every other sport everywhere.

Also, PKs are incredibly dramatic, but they're also a terrible way to decide a game on that stage. Why? Because teams can play to get to the PKs and know they can win without ever having to score in the run of play. TB isn't quite sure what to do about it, because you could end up with incredibly long games with exhausted players (which raises the chance of injuries), but he does know he hates the PKs.

Is that enough for today? What's that? Oh yeah, there was nothing about Princeton. Duh.

Princeton women's soccer opens its season a week from tomorrow at home against Monmouth on Myslik Field, which will host six games in the first 10 days of the 2023-24 athletic year. Again, that's six games in 10 days on Myslik Field.

Here is the schedule:

Aug. 25 - women vs. Monmouth
Aug. 27 - women vs. La Salle
Aug. 31 - women vs. Rutgers
Sept. 1 - men vs. Rutgers
Sept. 2 - women vs. Army
Sept. 4 - men vs. Duke

The two Rutgers teams will be itching to play an Ivy League opponent, or maybe not. Both the Rutgers women (Brown) and men (Penn) lost their first-round NCAA games against Ivy teams a year ago.

That's a lot of home soccer in a short time, and each one of those games — and all regular season games — are free of charge. 

Plus, they play with the right rules.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Football In August

Okay, following up on the list TigerBlog had yesterday, did you see the story about the rookie New Orleans Saints' placekicker?

His name is Blake Grupe, and he stands 5-7 and weighs 155 pounds. Also, he has something of a baby-face.

He kicked at both Notre Dame and Arkansas State, and now he's a rookie free agent in the Saints' camp. New Orleans played Kansas City this weekend in its preseason opener, and Grupe was given a hard time by Superdome security because they thought he was trying to sneak onto the field without the proper credential.

Fortunately, the dilemma was sorted out in time for him to kick the game-winning 31-yard field goal on the final play. Did that resolve it all? No, he was stopped by security again on his way out.

The preseason is filled with little stories like that as newcomers try to make their teams. Of course, none of the others are 5-7, 155.

One of the ones who is trying to fit in is 6-3, 215. That would be Princeton alum Andrei Iosivas, who was a sixth-round pick by the Cincinnati Bengals this past spring. 

Iosivas has opened some eyes in training camp this summer, and he then had a really good first outing as the Bengals took on Green Bay. On the night, Iosivas caught four passes for 50 yards and was just millimeters away from a touchdown reception when his left foot just barely scraped the sideline.

This is what one postgame story had to say about him:

A possible fringe 53 player before the game, Iosivas seemed to cement his status as one of the six or seven wideouts they keep. He’ll need to keep the arrow pointing up on special teams, but it’s pretty clear in the base offense that he’s not just a former track standout and project player.

If you watched the highlights, Iosivas certainly looked the part of an NFL wideout. Cincinnati currently has 12 wide receivers in camp, by the way.

As for Princeton's other alums in training camps, Stephen Carlson had one reception in the Bears' preseason opener. Former Bear Jesper Horsted, who caught the first career NFL TD pass for Justin Fields, is now in Las Vegas. Henry Byrd is trying to make the Denver Broncos as an undrafted free agent offensive lineman. The Dolphins released John Lovett, who otherwise would have been on the injured list for the year. He can now sign with any team.

The current Princeton football team is preparing to arrive on campus to begin practice for the 2023 season. It does so having been chosen second in the Ivy League's preseason media poll.

The Tigers return, among others, quarterback Blake Stenstrom, who threw for a league-best 2,742 yards a year ago, and linebacker Liam Johnson, the Ivy League's Bushnell Cup winner as the top defensive player in the league.

What else does Princeton return? A winning culture, and that is something that goes beyond one class or a handful of standouts. 

Princeton has gone 10 straight seasons without a losing record. The last time Princeton did that? It was an 11-year run from 1947-58. 

Princeton won at least eight games in every season from 1888-1907. Since then, how many times has Princeton won at least eight games in four straight seasons? 

Once. That would be the current streak of four seasons.  

And if you think it's not fair because the team plays 10 games in a season now, as opposed to nine, the last time Princeton lost five games over a four-season stretch was 1963-66.

That doesn't happen accidentally. And that doesn't happen unless you can successfully turn your roster over several times. That's what Bob Surace and the coaching staff have done. 

Will this year be more of the same? That remains to be seen, of course. 

Princeton opens the season at San Diego and then has the home opener a week later against Bryant, which just announced a move in football to the Coastal Athletic Association, which used to be the Colonial, for the 2024 season. For this year, the Bulldogs are in their final year in the Big South-OVC Football Association.

The game at San Diego is on Sept. 16.

Hey, that's a month from today. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Last Look Back

Well, this certainly is a busy week.

Here are just a few of the items TigerBlog has on his agenda: 

* Andrei Iosivas' preseason debut with the Bengals

* Ivy League football media day

* women's soccer on the new practice field

* the Women's World Cup

* Episode 4 of "March of the Tigers"

* the situation with the Baltimore Orioles' announcer

* the English Premier League kicks off

* the Premier Lacrosse League heads down the stretch 

* the great story about the Saints' rookie kicker

* summer reading list

* the new look website

Where in the world do you start? In the past, or in the future? 

The past it is. 

The new athletic year begins a week from Friday, when the women's soccer team — whose practice was in full swing when TB walked in Jadwin yesterday morning — hosts Monmouth (not Colgate) for the first of its three home games in six days to end August. Before then, here is one last look back at the quite remarkable 2022-23 season.

And hey, TB doesn't even have to do the heavy lifting on this one. His colleague Chas Dorman already took care of that for him. 

If you went to yesterday, you got to see the piece that Chas put together on all of the league and national championships that the Tigers won last academic year. There are certainly a lot of them.

Here is the introductory paragraph: 

When Princeton's 38 varsity programs convened together at the start of the 2022-23 school year, each had a singular vision – compete for championships. When the final competitor crossed the finish line at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in June of 2023, the final tally stood at 16 conference championships and nine national titles. Take a look back at the championship moments from the 2022-23 Princeton Tigers as presented by Hamilton Jewelers.

You can see the piece HERE.

This is actually one of those stories where the photo on top tells you a great deal of what you need to know. For a lot of schools, that's a decade's worth of trophies for the case. Here? That was one year. 

Of course, what is it they say? Past performance is no indication of future success. Or, if you need a visual, there's this:

What does he say? All glory is fleeting.

That's the challenge as a new academic year begins. Yes, Princeton won 16 titles last year. Yes, Princeton won 16 more the year before. 

This is a new year, though. Nothing is ever taken for granted. If TB has learned anything from all his time here, that's what it is. Success is never taken for granted. Every year is a new challenge.

Having said that, there is some glory that stays forever. 

To complete a last look back at last year, what better way is there than to remember the men's basketball team's run to the Sweet 16. And what better way to do it than with the fourth installment of "March of the Tigers."

The videos keep getting better, or maybe it's just that the memories of that magical time keeps getting better. Either way, the current one is on Princeton's win over Missouri in the NCAA second round last March in Sacramento. It's the win that put Princeton into the Sweet 16.

As with the other videos, there's always something you see when you watch this one that you didn't exact remember 100 percent correctly. In this case, TB forgot the 7-0 run by Missouri to end the first half and cut a 14-point Princeton lead down to seven (TB almost said "Tiger lead," but they're both Tigers).

There was a great quote from associate head coach Brett McConnell, who talks about how he walked off the court disappointed that the team was only up seven and then had to catch himself and realize that they were up seven at the half in the second round of the NCAA tournament. 

TigerBlog didn't realize the game was that close at the break. Of course, he was a bit busy at the time, with the game on one computer while doing stats for Princeton-Penn men's lacrosse on another. He does remember the second half, though, when Princeton pulled away, when Blake Peters caught fire, when Missouri looked shell-shocked and when the ending was never in doubt in the final seven minutes or so.

It was a thing of beauty. You can remember it here:

Monday, August 14, 2023

Tigers vs. Scarlet Knights

So TigerBlog isn't quite sure where he got the idea that Princeton's women's soccer team was going to open its season against Colgate on Aug. 25.

As it turns out, it'll be Princeton against Monmouth on Aug. 25 on Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium. That'll actually be the first athletic event for any Princeton team for the 2023-24 academic year. 

As such, pretty much everything that TB wrote about Princeton Ford Family Director of Athletics John Mack and Colgate interim AD Yariv Amir for Friday's blog doesn't quite seem as relevant with the game that is actually coming up. 

When you do this kind of job, you're going to make mistakes. It's just how it works. The keys are to 1) have a pretty good track record and 2) own up to it when you're wrong.

For the record, Princeton and Colgate do not play this fall in women's soccer. Neither does the men's soccer team, or the field hockey team, or the football team, or the women's rugby team, or the women's volleyball team, or the men's water polo team. 

Yeah, TB has no idea why he thought it was Colgate. The women's soccer team opens with Monmouth and then plays two more home games within a week, as La Salle (Aug. 27) and Rutgers (Aug. 31) follow the opener. 

Princeton and Rutgers will play soccer on consecutive days in Princeton 

Also last week, TigerBlog mentioned that one day, he'd look up the all-time series history between Princeton and Rutgers. That's all-time, as in every sport the schools have played against each other, dating to the first football game back in 1869.

On the women's side, the first Princeton-Rutgers matchup was a 5-0 women's tennis win over Douglass back in 1971. That was the first varsity season of Princeton's first varsity team, and the match against Doulgass (that was the Rutgers women's college that sort of still exists) was the fifth in program history.

TigerBlog only considered head-to-head matchups between the two, where there would be one winner and one loser — or, in the case of 28 times, a tie. 

When you add it all up — which TB actually did the other day — it comes to 913 such events. The all-time record? 

Princeton leads 551-334-28.

That's a lot of games and a lot of Princeton wins. The winning percentage for the Tigers is .619. 

It's not easy to play that many games against a school that has almost always, at least for the last 50 years or so, been in a "bigger time" league than you are. The record speaks volumes for the commitment that Princeton has to intercollegiate athletics in the way it's done here, a way that values the truest student-athlete experience. 

Also, 913 games are a lot.

Who has the best record? That would be in tennis.

That first Princeton win was the start of something big, as the Princeton women are 40-2 all-time against the Scarlet Knights — and that's not even the best record for a Princeton tennis team. That would be the men's record, which is 33-0-1 against Rutgers. Together, that's 73-2-1.

The men, by the way, don't play Rutgers this year, so that unbeaten record will stand.

The baseball and men's basketball teams have the most wins, with 75 each. The men's basketball team is 75-45 all-time against the Scarlet Knights, and they'll play for the first time in a decade on Nov. 6 at the CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton.

Princeton and Rutgers haven't played football against each other in a very long time (1980), but the Tigers did have an overwhelming 53-17-1 record. The lone tie, by the way, is a very famous moment in Princeton football history.

It was back in Palmer Stadium on the opening game of the 1974 season for the Tigers (it was Rutgers' second game). Neither team could score in the first half, though Princeton did manage to hit the Rutgers' kicker, which resulted in torn cartilege in his knee. And what was his name? That would be Bill Bradley, of all names.

Anyway, Rutgers scored on a 94-yard punt return in the third quarter, but with no placekicker available, one of the RU cornerbacks tried the extra point, which was no good. 

As such, it was a 6-0 Rutgers game late into the fourth, when Ron Beible finally got the Princeton offense going. Starting on their own 37 with four minutes left, the Tigers got one first down, when, with 2:31 left, Rutgers fans stormed the field and tore down one of the goalposts. Then, one play later, they took down the other set. 

This, by the way, was the second straight year that Rutgers fans tore down the Palmer posts. A year earlier, it also came with about two minutes to go, but it didn't affect the outcome: Rutgers won that one 39-14. 

Why did Rutgers do this? Apparently it had to do with how the Princeton fans had tormented the Rutgers mascot in years prior. 

After the 1973 debacle, Princeton seemed to be ready. The goalposts were taken off the practice field, and an extra pair was stored just under the stadium in case they were needed. 

Despite the fact that Princeton's then Director of Athletics Royce Flippin said that the new posts could be installed in five minutes, the referee said no, meaning the game continued with no goalposts at either end. When Princeton scored a touchdown in the final seconds, there was no place to kick an extra point, which led to all sorts of confusion.

Could Princeton kick and the refs judge if it would have been good? Nope. The only option was to go for two, and the try failed. Final score: Princeton 6, Rutgers 6.

And that is a great story. 

Friday, August 11, 2023

What Did You Say?

It's August 11, which means there are now just two weeks until the first Princeton athletic event of the 2023-24 academic year. 

It'll be Colgate at Princeton in women's soccer on Friday, Aug. 25, at 7:30. If you look at the two school's Directors of Athletics, Princeton's John Mack and Colgate's (interim, at least) Yariv Amir go way, way, way back, to when both were early in the careers and worked together at Princeton.

Mack graduated from Princeton in 2000, one year before Amir graduated from Colgate. TB hired Amir at Princeton based on his hockey background and desire to work in Division I hockey in Mercer County, New Jersey, which sort of narrowed his options. At the same time, the Princeton Office of Athletic Communications was looking for someone to cover men's and women's hockey, so it worked out well for everyone involved.

It's hard to believe that it's been two decades since. Well, maybe not, considering how quickly time has sailed by this summer. 

Anyway, make sure you check out the composite schedule, because it's only three weeks until pretty much every Tiger fall team will be underway.

Ah, but that leaves us the rest of today. 

TigerBlog wanted to share this with you every since his college roommate Charlie Frohman sent him these sports quotes two weeks ago or so. 

Some of them are classics. Which one is your favorite? You can think about it and let TB know. 

In the meantime, enjoy them, and enjoy the weekend.

Some of these are epic. Enjoy, and TB will be back tomorrow with some thoughts on this question: Who are the most accomplished Princeton athletes beyond what they did as Tigers?

Babe Ruth became the first baseball player to sign a contract giving him a salary of $100,000 a year.  A reporter asked him "how do you feel making so much money, even more than the President of the United States? "Ruth replied "Well I had a better year than he did."

Don Meredith, Dallas Cowboys Quarterback once said: "Coach Tom Landry is such a perfectionist that if he was married to Raquel Welch, he would expect her to cook."

Harry Neale, professional hockey coach: "Last year we couldn't win at home and we were losing on the road. My failure as a coach was that I couldn't think of anyplace else to play."

Reggie Jackson commenting on Tom Seaver: "Blind people come to the ballpark just to listen to him pitch."

Doug Sanders, professional golfer: "I'm working as hard as I can to get my life and my cash to run out at the same time. If I can just die after lunch Tuesday, everything will be perfect."

Mickey Lolich, Detroit Tigers pitcher: "All the fat guys watch me and say to their wives, 'See, there's a fat guy doing okay. Bring me another beer."

Max McGee, Green Bay Packers receiver: "When it's third and ten, you can have the milk drinkers; I'll take the whiskey drinkers every time."

Tommy LaSorda, L A Dodgers manager: "I found out that it's not good to talk about my troubles. Eighty percent of the people who hear them don't care and the other twenty percent are glad I'm having them."

E.J. Holub, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker regarding his 12 knee operations: "My knees look like they lost a knife fight with a midget."

Vic Braden, tennis instructor: "My theory is that if you buy an ice cream cone and make it hit your mouth, you can learn to play tennis. If you stick it on your forehead, your chances aren't as good."

Tommy John, N.Y. Yankees, recalling his 1974 arm surgery: "When they operated, I told them to add in a Koufax fastball. They did, but unfortunately it was Mrs. Koufax's."

Walt Garrison, Dallas Cowboys fullback when asked if Tom Landry ever smiles: "I don't know. I only played there for nine years."

John Breen, Houston Oilers: "We were tipping off our plays. Whenever we broke from the huddle, three backs were laughing and one was pale as a ghost."

Bum Phillips, New Orleans Saints, after viewing a lopsided loss to the Atlanta Falcons: "The film looks suspiciously like the game itself."

Al Hrabosky, major league relief pitcher: "When I'm on the road, my greatest ambition is to get a standing boo."

Bill Veeck, Chicago White Sox owner: "I have discovered in 20 years of moving around the ballpark that the knowledge of the game is usually in inverse proportion to the price of the seats."

Paul Horning, Green Bay Packers running back on why his marriage ceremony was before noon: "Because if it didn't work out, I didn't want to blow the whole day."

Lou Holtz, Arkansas football coach: "I have a lifetime contract. That means I can't be fired during the third quarter if we're ahead and moving the ball."

Knute Rockne, when asked why Notre Dame had lost a game: "I won't know until my barber tells me on Monday".

Jim Frey, K.C. Royals manager when asked what advice he gives George Brett on hitting: "I tell him "Attaway to hit, George."

Bill Walton, Portland Trail Blazers: "I learned a long time ago that 'minor surgery' is when they do the operation on someone else, not you."

George MacIntyre, Vanderbilt football coach surveying the team roster that included 26 freshmen and 25 sophomores: "Our biggest concern this season will be diaper rash."

Rick Venturi, Northwestern football coach: "The only difference between me and General Custer is that I have to watch the films on Sunday."

Bum Phillips, Oilers coach on why he always takes his wife on road trips . . . " She's too ugly to kiss goodbye."

The great John McKay, who coached USC for a bunch of years and later became the initial head coach of those terrible expansion Tampa Bay Bucs teams, had a few zingers. He was once asked after a lopsided loss what he thought of his team's execution. He said: "I’m all for it.”   On another occasion, after a serious whipping he was asked what the turning point of the game had been. He replied: "The Star-Spangled Banner."



Thursday, August 10, 2023

The William Weaver Head Coach Of Track And Field


Does the name Ray Chernock ring any bells? 

How about it, all you track and field fans out there? 

No? Back in 1977, Chernock went from being an assistant coach with the Princeton men's track and field team to being the head coach at William & Mary. Before that, he had been a great sprinter at NYU and a legendary high school coach, first at Jamaica High and then at Oceanside High before coming to Princeton to coach under another former Jamaica High coach, Larry Ellis.

Chernock's biggest claim to fame, at least as far as Princeton is concerned, is that it was Chernock's departure that opened up a position on Ellis' staff. That position was filled by, of course, Fred Samara.

It's been awhile since anyone had to worry about taking Samara's place. In all of Princeton Athletics history, nobody has coached more athletes or won more championships than Fred Samara, who retired after this past season. 

That's 46 years at Princeton for Samara. 

Who would want to step into those shoes? Well, a lot of coaches would. 

Who is the one getting the chance? That would be Jason Vigilante. 

It was announced yesterday that Vigilante — Vig (pronounced "Vidge" to pretty much everyone — will be the new William Weaver Head Coach of Men's Track and Field at Princeton. The announcement was made by Ford Family Director of Athletics John Mack, himself a men's track and field alum.

Vigilante is the ninth head coach in program history. It's a program, by the way, that dates to the’70s – the 1870s, or 1876 to be exact. That's what happens when you have one coach for 46 years, like Samara did. 

If Vigilante matches that longevity, he'll be coaching at Princeton until 2057.

Vig is no stranger to being a Princeton head coach. He already has five Ivy League Coach of the Year Awards and six Ivy League championships in his 12 years as the head coach of Tiger cross country.

He came to Princeton in 2012 as the cross country head man and Samara's assistant. Since then, he's been a part of 20 Ivy League titles, including four "Triple Crowns."

The idea of continuity in a program is very appealing, especially one with such a winning culture on the track and off of it. The man who takes over has been very much a part of building and maintaining that culture, and there is no athlete in the program or incoming freshman who doesn't know him well.

That, of course, only takes you so far. It's the success that Vig has directly had a hand in that is a much bigger indicator of why he got the job. 

His resume includes overwhelming success as a coach at both Texas and Virginia. Among those who speak highly of him is Colorado coach Mark Wetmore, who had this to say:

“Jason is among the very best coaches of Track and Field in the United States, if not the world. He has recruited and developed talent at every stop in his career. He and Princeton are a perfect match.” 

It is not easy to take over for a legendary coach, as TigerBlog mentioned when Samara retired. At the same time, it's also an extraordinary opportunity for Vigilante to follow Samara and put his own stamp on the program.

Vigilante brings confidence and passion with him in addition to his knowledge and coaching ability. He also has a strong big-picture focus, as you can tell by some of what he said in the story announcing his hiring, which TB linked to above.

Vig wouldn't have wanted the job had he been afraid of taking over for the man for whom he worked the past dozen years.

TigerBlog thought about writing this without ever mentioning Samara, but that is 1) impossible and 2) not necessary. Vigilante knows whose seat it's been for the last 46 years.

No matter who the coach is, eventually their time comes to an end and the page turns. It's happened with Hall of Fame coaches across the board at Princeton. No coach is bigger than the program itself. No coach owns that program, not Pete Carril, not Bill Tierney, not Fred Samara. 

They simply oversee it, lease it if you will, until it comes time to move on. 

That time is now. It's Jason Vigilante's lease now. 

TB sends him congratulations and wishes him all the best. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

So What?

The Princeton football team was chosen to finish second in the Ivy League's preseason media poll.

To that, Tiger wide receivers coach Brian Flinn has a simple two-word message: So What?

It's Flinn's go-to phrase, one he got from Princeton head coach Bob Surace and, well, ran with, which is something you might not expect from a wide receivers coaches. Pretty much any social media post from Flinn includes the hashtag #sowhat, and the better the news, the more impact it has.

Here is what Flinn had to say about his use of the term:

Stole it from Bob. It was on some T-Shirts when I first got here. Kind of picked it up and ran with it. Use it as a way to react to adversity/success. Acknowledge it - Learn from it - Keep it moving. 
Down by 14? - So What
Raining/Cold out - So What
Poor officiating - So What
We’re 8-0 - So What
We’re 0-8 - So What

There's a lot to be taken from that attitude. No excuses. No resting on laurels. Just another day, another moment, another opportunity to prove yourself.

Flinn has been posting highlights of one of his most recent proteges, Andrei Iosivas, as he competes in his first training camp as a wide receiver with the Cincinnati Bengals, who selected him in the sixth round of this past spring's NFL draft.

A sixth-round pick is sort of a no-man's land. You're not a high enough selection to be guaranteed a roster spot and penciled in immediately for playing time, but the team has invested in you. Many sixth-round picks find their way to the practice squad as rookies.

Is that what Iosivas' rookie season has in store? Not if you have been watching the practice videos.

From what Flinn has been posting, Iosivas has already had his share of highlight catches in training camp. The Bengals have one of the best and deepest groups of wide receivers in the league, which is a good thing and bad thing. How many stories has TB read that reference the team's wide receiver "room."

Speaking of which, when did "room" become such a commonplace way of reference a fooball team's positional group. Every group has a "room" these days, and yes, they do have a room where they meet. But it went from never being said to being said in pretty much every training camp story.

Cincinnati's "room" features JaMarr Chase and Tee Higgins, who are already proven NFL stars. The team also has one of the best quarterbacks in the game, Joe Burrow, who is out hurt this training camp but figures to be fine when the season starts.

Catching on, as it were, is not easy. Being part of that kind of unit, though, gives you an opportunity to learn from among the best. That education is invaluable.

There two challenges that he faces.

First, there is the matter of consistency. You have to do it day after day after day, week after week. The second is that he has to establish that what he does transcends the Ivy League and plays in the NFL.

For Iosivas, he seems to be doing a great job this summer of using the physical abilities that got him drafted, with his size, hands and athleticism. In some ways, he's been a curiosity so far. 

Now, though, the preseason games are here. There are only three of them, as opposed to the six that there were when TB was a kid or the four that there were for a few decades. Yes, there used to be six preseason games and 14 regular season games. And the goalposts used to be in the front of the end zone. 

The first Cincinnati preseason game is Saturday, when the team hosts Green Bay. After that, it's consecutive Saturdays at Atlanta and Washington.

How will it shake out for Iosivas? He's currently listed as one of the third-string wide receivers on the team's depth chart. At this point, it means nothing.

Whether he was listed as No. 1 or not at all, that doesn't matter as far as today's practice or Saturday's game. They're all his next, best opportunity.

That's a lesson he definitely learned from his college positional coach.

Tuesday, August 8, 2023


Remember last Friday, when TigerBlog talked about how Princeton and Rutgers will be renewing their rivalry in men's basketball after a 10-season absence. 

You don't have to wait until November 6, though, to see Princeton and Rutgers. In fact, you can do so three weeks from Friday. 

It'll be on that day that the Princeton men's soccer team takes on Rutgers in its season opener. Rutgers will be playing its third game, as that's how the schedule always works for the Ivy League schools.

Princeton and Rutgers have met in men's soccer 59 times but only once since 2017, and that was two seasons ago. The first meeting was back on Nov. 20, 1951, and the Tigers lead the all-time series 28-22-9.

The Princeton-Rutgers rivalry is a natural one. The schools are separated by 20 minutes, which makes getting back and forth easy. They are two of the nine pre-Colonial colleges in the United States, along with William & Mary and every other Ivy other than Cornell.

Their history includes the first college football game ever, back in 1869, and great traditions across almost all sports. Perhaps TB will calculate the all-time win-loss record for the overall series, which he suspects will heavily favor Princeton (why else would he do it?). 

TigerBlog's friend Corey is a Rutgers grad. He's had football season tickets for decades, and he is even planning to go right from Newark Airport after a week in Europe to a Rutgers football game next month.

He and TB had lunch last week, and TB arrived first. When he told the server that he was meeting someone there, he was asked "is that him" as he pointed to someone sitting by himself at another table. When TB said it was not, the server asked him "are you sure?"

Was he sure? TB thought to himself, well, he's known Corey for roughly 55 years, so yes, he's pretty sure. Instead of saying that, he simply said "yes."

When Corey did walk in, he was wearing a "Princeton Athletics" golf shirt that TB had given him one point. It was a good look for him. 

When TB told him about the Princeton-Rutgers men's basketball game this November, Corey's response was an excited one. He will not, however, wear the Princeton shirt.

At one point, Princeton and Rutgers saw their athletic paths diverge, as Princeton became a member of the Ivy League while Rutgers has played in the Eastern Eight, the Atlantic 10, the Big East and now the Big Ten.

The news in college athletics this past week was obviously dominated by realignment. The Pac-12, a league that is twice as old as the Ivy League, essentially no longer exists as UCLA and USC had already announced they were leaving to join up with Rutgers, Colorado and then Arizona, Arizona State and Utah signed on with the Big 12 and lastly Oregon and Washington also decided that the Big Ten was the way to go. This latest round started when Texas and Oklahoma left the

You now have an 18-team Big Ten and a 16-team Big 12. In other words, 10+12 = 34.

As for what's left of the Pac-12, that would be Stanford, Cal, Washington State and Oregon State. Stanford? That's the school that routinely wins the Directors' Cup and has never finished lower than third. Cal is not quite Stanford when it comes to overall athletic success, but it's not that far behind.

And suddenly they're on the outside looking in? It's not over yet, by the way. Florida State wants out of the ACC. If the Seminoles go, it could be the next step towards what seems inevitable — that there will be two, maybe three, power leagues. The Power 5 is already down to Power 4, for now.

This is all driven, of course, by money, specifically football money. That Rutgers soccer will now have to fly across the country to play league games several times a year is hardly a concern. That traditional rivalries have been jettisoned without a second thought is also hardly a concern.

Will the end result of all this mean a reduction in the number of teams these schools can field? Will the travel costs overwhelm their budgets, even with the inflated TV money (Oregon and Washington won't get full Big Ten shares until 2032)?

Who knows.

For TigerBlog, it's just a reminder of why he's glad he's spent his entire career in the Ivy League. It's a league that had eight members when it began and has the same eight members today. It fields nationally competitive teams across the board. Its men's basketball champion (Princeton) beat the Pac-12's men's basketball champion (Arizona) in the first round of the NCAA tournament last year. 

It isn't prone to the excesses that the Power Five leagues are. It's not desperately trying to become one of those leagues.

The Ivy League is what it is — and that is exactly what college sports were supposed to be all about.