Football Chosen as Ivy League Favorite

Football Chosen as Ivy League Favorite

Harvard has won three-straight Ivy League crowns for the first time in program history (Gil Talbot).


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2016 Ivy League Football Media Day Central:
Preseason Poll | Preseason Honors 

PRINCETON, N.J. – Coming off three-straight conference titles, the Harvard football team was chosen to win the 2016 Ivy League crown in the preseason media poll, the league announced Tuesday as part of its annual media day.

Heading into its 143rd season of football, Harvard, which was picked first in the poll for the second year in a row, received seven of 17 first-place votes and finished with 126 points. Penn came in second with nine first-place votes and 119 points.

Dartmouth was third with 83 points, followed by Yale (81 points), Princeton (79 points), Brown (61 points), Columbia (43 points) and Cornell (20 points). Brown also earned a first-place vote.

The Crimson, which claimed its 17th Ivy League crown in 2015, has won at least seven games in each of the last 15 years, an Ivy League record. Harvard, which appears at No. 19 in the Preseason FCS Coaches Poll, posted a 9-1 record last fall and has won a program record nine-straight games against archrival Yale in The Game.

Entering his 23rd season in Cambridge, Tim Murphy, The Thomas Stephenson Family Head Coach for Harvard Football, has led the Crimson to nine conference titles during his tenure.  Murphy boasts a 156-63 (.712) record at Harvard and is the school's all-time winningest coach. He is also 17-5 in The Game.

The Crimson will open the 2016 campaign at home against Rhode Island Sept. 16 at 7 p.m.


First-Place Votes in Parentheses





Harvard (7)



Penn (9)












Brown (1)









The Ivy League Football Media Day Teleconference took place on Aug. 9. Below are the comments from Tim Murphy, the Thomas Stephenson Family Head Coach for Harvard Football. 

General Opening Statement- Positional Strengths and Challenges for 2016 Season:

Going into the 2016 season, it's a little bit different- a lot more question marks obviously and that's the obvious result of losing arguably the most successful senior class in Harvard Football history and it's a bit unprecedented for us. We are used to being successful, we're used to setting the bar high, but this group was really special. Our fifth year seniors won four Ivy Championships, our seniors won three-straight Ivy Championships, so to lose that nucleus of fifteen starters last year with fourteen All-Ivy players, four NFL guys, and the Ivy League Player of the Year at Quarterback is a little bit daunting and certainly unprecedented for us. But there are a lot of guys looking for the opportunity to replace those guys.

I think if you look at our obvious top returners defensively, and again we don't have a lot of returning guys on either side of the ball, but defensively we would start with Sean Ahern our fifth-year corner, missed one season with us, James Webb, and Miles McCallum on the defensive line. Offensively, Larry Allen, Max Rich, and Anthony Firkser at H-Back, and certainly Justice Shelton-Mosley our outstanding, young wide receiver. The running back position is one we have to get a feel for probably by Platoon early on with guys like Semar Smith, Charlie Booker, and Noah Reimers. And obviously, our big question is quarterback. I can't remember coming into the season with a competition at quarterback, where really neither guy has ever taken a meaningful snap in a college football game. We're excited about both guys, we'll have a competition between senior Joe Viviano and sophomore Tommy Stewart, both are big, strong athletic, dual-threat guys, but again, neither one has ever taken a meaningful snap in a college game so that will be very competitive and very interesting. 


The Boston Globe: Aside from establishing who is going to be your starting quarterback, with three guys in NFL camps, how important is your camp for establishing your own line? Will Larry Allen be switching from guard to center? How does that look right now?

We have an expression in our program, "It's whats up front that counts on both sides of the ball", and before I was ever a head coach, and before I was ever a coordinator, I was an offensive line coach and the offensive line is critical. Those guys have huge shoes to fill, losing guys like Fabiano, Cole Toner, and Adam Redmond, but Larry Allen and Max Rich are really terrific players, they'll be tremendous competition among all the other spots. The center position is going to be a critical one, we'll have two seniors and a sophomore competing for that position, they all have potential to be good players. Then you have guys like Billy Nichols, Justin Hunter, Jack Bates, Ben Shoults, Timmy O'Brien. We just got a bunch of guys that we need to just get a better sample size in terms of what they can do outside of spring football. The offensive line will definitely be a work in progress, but again, we are used to graduating good players, but I think this year is the most challenging because we had such great kids that we've lost. It will be nice to get back to the dual-threat capability.


The Harvard Crimson: Who do you see stepping up into a leadership role [aside from captain, Sean Ahern]?

Well, it all starts with the senior class, and obviously there is a lot of seniors that haven't played a significant amount as well. But if you look at our culture and you look at our tradition, you have to recruit character kids, and if you recruit character kids they know what it takes to lead by example. We certainly expect our seniors to do a great job at leadership as all of our senior kids have done for a long, long time.


What does it mean for Harvard and the Ivy League to have 24 former Ivy League athletes pursuing NFL careers?

It is tremendous for the league, and obviously we've been really fortunate, but to have 24 guys from the league at least competing for spots [in the NFL] is really reflective of the great job that so many different coaches and coaching staffs have done in the Ivy League. I know when we came into the Ivy League in 1993, there were very few players that would get the opportunity to play at the next level, and I think it is a reflection of the really good job we've done recruiting nationally, and I'm talking about we as an Ivy League. I think it is a reflection of how kids today are really understanding that you can have a great Division I football experience in the Ivy League and have a great balance between athletics [and academics] and I think it is only going to increase in the next five years.