SportsProf

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Sunday, November 06, 2005

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Thank you for indulging me. I've waited almost ten years for this.

Now, most of you don't read this blog for any mention at all of the Ivy League, but this game bears special mention for several reasons (for those of you not clicking on the link, Princeton beat Penn in football -- at Penn -- 30-13 yesterday).

1. As a Princeton alum who lives in the Greater Philadelphia area, I've had to put up with all kinds of grief during my adult lifetime, from "How could you not have gone to Penn?" to various comments about how snooty and mean Princeton people can be (of course, I was always excepted from that sweeping statement, sometimes with the comment that "You're on only person I know who went to Princeton whom I like", and, depending on the speaker, I might have begun to wonder what was wrong with me). I've learned throughout life's journey that humble people can come from Princeton and arrogant ones from schools that admit you if you're a high-school graduate, so I never put much stock in those statements. However, having had to listen to a chorus, if not cacophony, of comments like that over the years, the win is extra sweet. Any win over Penn is extra sweet for Princeton alums living in the Philadelphia area. The Tigers' football team could go 1-9 every year, but if that win were over Penn, certain Philadelphia-area Princeton alums would be content. For what it's worth, I have great respect for, and to a degree like, various aspects of the University of Pennsylvania, from programs, to faculty to alumni to buildings to color schemes and don't have any axes to grind or sore spots regarding Penn (other than, perhaps, having to hear occasional silly comments from zealous Penn alums). That said, it's a nice win to savor, as it shuts the obnoxious among the Penn alumni body up for at least a short while.

2. Contrary to what gets written in the Philadelphia papers, Penn is not Princeton's greatest Ivy rival. Yes, the Penn people might think that, and they do relish beating Princeton in an extra special way. That said, Princeton people do not think that. For example, ask the average Princeton alum (okay, so most won't say they're average at anything) about who the Tigers' greatest rival is in football, and they'll say Yale. Why? Because going back to almost the time football was invented, the Princeton-Yale game was a blood feud. Today, of course, Harvard-Yale is "The Game", but it wasn't always that way. (In a sense, Princeton fans are outsiders on the Harvard-Yale thing the way Penn alums are outsiders on the Harvard-Yale-Princeton thing). For many Princeton alums, beating Yale in football is the ultimate accomplishment in any given year. And, bonfires don't get lit on the Princeton campus after gridiron victories over Penn. They do get lit, though, if the Tigers win the Big Three, and the bonfires are something to see. If the Tigers beat Yale this weekend, there will be a bonfire this fall on Cannon Green right behind Nassau Hall. Penn clearly is Princeton's biggest rival in basketball; no one will dispute that. But on the gridiron, it's a different story, at least for Princetonians.

3. Penn football has been a juggernaut for the past 20 years. Head coaches Jerry Berndt, Ed Zubrow and Al Bagnoli have brought Penn football to a very high Division 1-AA level (Gary Steele was less successful), and Penn should be commended for this accomplishment. Princeton's victory at Franklin Field is very special because of the type of program they defeated yesterday. Forget about Ivy rivalries, silly comments, chips on shoulders and all the rest. You beat the perennial power in your league in their building, that's quite an accomplishment.

4. The Tigers are now in the hunt to win the Ivies (or share in a title) for the first time since 1995. They have two games remaining, this weekend against Yale, which lost to Brown yesterday and dropped in second place, and then a week later against Dartmouth, which, whatever its record, always seems to give Princeton fits. Football championships don't happen that frequently in Tigertown, and my guess is that Princeton Stadium, with a capacity of about 25,000, will be near capacity this Saturday when they host the Elis. The team, which was picked for sixth in pre-season polling, is primed to win a title.

Okay, so the Tigers aren't a football dynasty the way Penn is. And, yes, they don't have the very rich football history that Yale does. But right now, in the present, either of those schools would love to be where Princeton is today.

Hunting for a title.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Philly Tiger said...

Couldn't agree more! Went to the game with my wife and her fellow Penn-alum friends expecting the usual Tiger meltdown and resulting Quaker abuse, but when the PAT was returned for 2, I started to think that maybe it was our day. Of course, the fumble on the goal line was a real gut check, but somehow we pulled through.

Fun game, gorgeous fall day. Part of me wished we were at Princeton so we could really drink in the fall colors, have a beer after the game and then hit Thomas Sweets, but seeing the grim looks on the faces of Quaker fans made Franklin Field the place to be!

9:36 AM  

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