In the FCS Huddle: Murphy continues to cement legacy at Harvard
By Sean Shapiro, FCS Assistant
New York, NY (Sports Network) - On Sept. 17, 1994, Tim Murphy made his Harvard coaching debut, leading the Crimson to a 39-32 victory at Columbia.
Eighteen years later, Murphy was once again patrolling the sidelines at Columbia, now called Robert K. Kraft Field, and leading the Crimson to his record-setting 118th victory, the most of any coach in the 138-year history of Harvard football.
After the 35-21 victory Saturday, the coach deflected any praise thrown his way and, like he has his entire career, gave much of the credit to his players.
"It really is a reflection of every Harvard football player. Hundreds of Harvard football players and assistant coaches who have won those games," Murphy said. "If it wasn't for all the support, this never would've happened."
While the coach wouldn't take credit, his players took full advantage of the post-game press conference to praise Murphy.
"I feel honored, it feels great to be a part of that. I know Coach Murphy won't give himself enough credit, but he's done a great job coaching us and I couldn't be happier," junior tight end Kyle Juszczyk said.
"It's honor to be part of the team and the program that Coach Murphy has put together, and that's why I came here as a recruit," captain Alex Gedeon said. "It's big honor, and wins in the next two weeks from now would be the next step."
In addition to serving as a celebration of their coach, the game also continued the Crimson's roll through the Ivy League.
Not only has Harvard won seven straight games since a season-opening loss to Holy Cross, the offense has been one of the more explosive units in the long history of Harvard football.
With the 35-point display against Columbia, Harvard fell just short of extending its streak of scoring at least 40 points to five games. It would have been the longest streak since the 1888 team had a streak of six straight 40-plus games.
While the 2011 version of the Crimson may not be defeating opponents by 102 or 74 points - like the 1888 team did - they have been the toast of the Ivy League this season.
The only remaining undefeated team in the Ancient Eight, Harvard simply needs to win one of its final two games - against Penn or Yale in "The Game" - to clinch at least a share of the title.
"We've worked all year to put ourselves in this position, we've got to take it one game at a time now. We wanted to work to put ourselves in this position, so we have," Gedeon said.
During the 5-0 league start - the first since 2009 - the Crimson have been getting contributions from what has been an overshadowed position in Murphy's tenure: the tight end.
Establishing themselves as reliable targets in the offense, Cameron Brate and Kyle Juszczyk have combined to catch 47 passes for 652 yards and 12 touchdowns.
"It's just a cycle we're in, but we just happen to have the two best tight ends we've had in 18 years," Murphy said. "They are our (Ron) Gronkowski and (Aaron) Hernandez. It's seldom you have the physicality and athleticism to play in the backfield, in the slot and line up as a wide receiver."
Against Columbia, the tight ends were again the favorite targets of quarterback Collier Winters, as Juszczyk caught a pair of touchdowns passes, including an impressive 41-yard catch-and-run which was highlighted by a stiff arm to free himself of a defender.
"We put in some new routes and we did a great job of reading them," Juszczyk said. "Both touchdowns were the same route ... I thankfully got in the open field where the guys are a lot smaller than me and I can take advantage."
Juszczyk taking advantage of his size and athleticism was just another advantage of Murphy putting his players in position to make the right play, something he's done so well during tenure with Harvard.
In winning five Ivy League titles and posting just four losing seasons, Murphy has been an institution in the Ancient Eight. His record is so impressive, that every four-year player recruited by the coach has celebrated at least one Ivy championship.
"I may have made mistakes, but I don't make the same mistakes twice," Murphy said. "To me, I'm more about process and more about the journey. And the journey has been great."
11/05 17:08:56 ET