By Paul Markgraff

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STRIKING A BALANCE

I TIM

MURPHY
His 2004 season was arguably Harvard's best season in more than 100 years. The Crimson went undefeated at.10-0, downing foes with an average margin-of-victory of20.5 points, and holding its final six opponents to fewer than 14 points. Perhaps there is no statistic more demonstrative of his winning ways than this: Every four-year player recruited by Murphy to Harvard has taken part in at least one Ivy League Championship.

Tim Murphy's approach to the game predates even Harvard football's 1874 inception and it fits well within those walls. As head football coach of the storied Crimson, his tried-and-true approach to consistency, balanced offensive attack, recruiting and continuous improvement have led the team from perennial adequacy to consummate champions. "It means that we're a very solid program," he says. "We're not an up-and-down program. For the past 11 years, we've had a minimum of. 700 winning percentage. I think the best student-athletes look for consistency. We run a very solid program across the board."

Balance Is Unpredictability
While consistency may be key for Murphy and his teams, his team's ability to win is based on a foundation of offensive balance. Harvard's offensive balance receives constant praise. Denauld Brown is currently defensive coordinator for Lock Haven University in Lock Haven, Pa. From 2007-2009, Brown coached the defensive line for Columbia University, ultimately becoming defensive coordinator for the Lions. Brown calls Murphy one of the best offensive play callers in the country at any level, describing his call sequences as amazing to behold and terrifying to defend. "For all you smart defensive coordinators out there who think that you can call defenses to match any given situation, if you face a play caller the caliber of Murphy, who systematically maintains a picturesque type of complete balance in nearly every facet of offense, and yet at the end of the game, astonishingly manages to somehow achieve a near perfect 50150 run-to-pass ratio, coaches like him can make you look like a novice if you are not prepared," says Brown. Murphy responds with modesty. "The head coach or the coordinator never deserves all the credit. Even though I still call plays, everyone on our offensive

Consistency Is Key
Over the past 18 seasons, with Murphy at the helm, the team has returned to a level of success not seen since the early 1900s, when the legendary Percy Haughton roamed the sidelines. Since he took over in 1994, Murphy's teams have dominated within the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). The 2009 season capped 10 consecutive years of winning ways. During that time, Murphy's teams ranked seventh in winning percentage in all of Division I, behind only the University of Texas, Boise State University, Oklahoma University, The Ohio State University and the University of Florida among Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools and only the University of Montana among FCS schools. Just the fourth man to lead the Crimson in the past 57 years, Murphy and his team actually outpaced Appalachian State University, Louisiana State University and the University of Southern California in the top 10. On Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011, Murphy became Harvard's all-time winningest coach, with a decisive win over Columbia University (118 wins).

"Coaches like him can make you look like a novice if you are not prepared."

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staff has significant responsibility and input and could easily do the job as well as L''he says. But he agrees that balance in offensive attack leads to consistent winning. "We are an up-tempo, no-huddle offense and we have been running it for more than 20 years. The bottom line is, any coordinator has to maintain as much of a degree of unpredictability as they can. Balance is unpredictability," says Murphy. He quotes another coach, "'Just like in war, if they know where you're going to be, eventually they will blow you up.' That's why you need to be as unpredictable as possible. And obviously, if you can achieve 50/50 balance in formation, down-and-distance and field zones, then you have a chance to be as unpredictable as possible."

Scan the Microsoft TRIi to watch highlights from the Haruard us. Dartmouth snowstorm game on your mobile phone. Or uisit:

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"We had to change the game plan three times. On Monday, the long-range weather report said about 20 percent chance of precipitation. On Wednesday, it was 40 percent. And by Friday, it was October Storm O/The Century. It comes back to being as balanced as you can so you can adapt to weather changes. You can adapt your personnel if you have a balanced philosophy." To prepare for the obvious challenge of playing through a snowstorm, Murphy says he asked his players to embrace the conditions rather than get deflated by them. "It's all about leadership. You can say, 'Oh boy fellas, we got a tough one this week and it's going to be snowing and blowing and the wind chill is going to be 20 degrees,'" says Murphy. "Or you can say, 'It doesn't mater what the conditions are; we'll play anyone, anywhere, no matter what the conditions.' If you constantly reinforce that and get your players to embrace adversity, as opposed to reacting in a defensive mode, I think kids philosophically will roll with the punches. They'll be much more resilient." Coaches must have a game plan in place, and an alternate game plan based on weather conditions, says Murphy. They also have to recruit athletes who can cope with adversity, struggle through it and win. It's a key element in Murphy's balanced approach. "If you see yourself as an offense that is balanced and can change on the fly - whether you have to throw the football or run the football- it's a lot easier," he says. Harvard routed Dartmouth in that game, winning 41-10, moving to 6-1 (4-0 Ivy League) at the time. Quarterback Collier Winters, junior running back Treavor Scales and freshman running back Zach Boden each rushed for over 100 yards and each recorded two touchdowns that snowy, unpredictable evening. As for balance, the team rushed for more than 400 yards against Dartmouth. The prior week, Harvard passed for 400 yards against Princeton.

Adapting To Conditions
Murphy views balance as a season-long objective. Every game is different, Murphy admits, and while he'd like to be as close to 50/50 balance as possible in every game, sometimes game-time conditions dictate strategy. On Oct. 29, 2011, Harvard played Dartmouth in the middle of a rare October snowstorm that swept across the Northeast, blanketing the region in heavy, wet snow, knocking power out for millions of residents, and adding an element of uncertainty to what should have been a normal college football game. "We've had flurries maybe a handful of times in 18 years, but never a game-time snow storm like that," says Murphy.

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Recruiting Resilience
To reach these levels of success, Murphy knows he must acquire, train and retain student-athletes, GAs, assistant coaches and coordinators who settle for nothing less than excellence. After all, one Harvard fight song proclaims the team "Gridiron King," demanding victory or death. "Recruiting is the most important variable in every college football program and Harvard is no exception," says Murphy. At the same time, Harvard is unlike many educational .institutions across the U.S., making recruiting extremely , difficult. Its players must not only compete at, an elite athletic level, but they must be some of the most intelligent, hard-working and organized students in the country.
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STRIKING A BALANCE I TIM MURPHY"
The institution demands it. "It is a very small pool of athletes, because it's hard enough finding kids that are great Division I athletes," h~ says. "It's just as hard to find kids who are great students as wel1. So the necessity to recruit from the entire continent is part of it." For example, a few years ago, Harvard's best linebacker came out of Hawaii. Harvard's all-time leading rusher came from Toronto, Ontario, via Jamaica. Located in Cambridge, Mass., the school's top recruiting state is California. "We have to be extremely national in our recruiting approach and we have to sift through thousands and thousands of prospects until we find the kids we need," says Murphy. "At the end of the day, the biggest thing is, the kid's got to have character. I don't mean that just in terms of how they're going to represent our school, but they have to be kids that can handle adversity." He says finding student-athletes who aren't deflated by adversity is the key to Harvard's recruiting challenges. None of us gets off this planet without adversity in our life, he says. It's just a matter of time. Murphy recalls a recruit from his second year at Harvard (1995). He was a gifted athlete, but his SAT scores were below average for a Harvard student. At that time, this student had recently lost his mother to a car accident. His father had been gone for more than a decade. He started for the Crimson all four years, was an All-American and played eight years in the NFL. He majored in Pre- Med and never earned less than honors grades. "The hotter the fire, the stronger the steel," says Murphy. "You want kids who can adapt, kids who have tremendous self-motivation. When things go bad, they can hang in there and fight through it and be successfu1. I don't think that's necessarily a revelation. But I think in our extremely demanding, tough sport, it's absolutely critica1." The right assistant coaches have similar characteristics. How are you going to attract the right type of player if you don't have the right type of assistant coaches, Murphy asks. "It's a combination of things, but you certainly want guys who have a great work ethic, guys who are very disciplined. You want good people. And beyond that, if you can develop that culture of outstanding assistant coaches, when coaches move on, you are going to continually attract more outstanding coaches. My philosophy has always been, I would rather have an outstanding assistant coach for five years than an average one for 10."

No Stranger To Improvement
Murphy's recipe for success also includes complete program rebuilds and facilities improvements within the programs he has captained. When he took the reigns at the University of Cincinnati in 1989, the program just lost 19 scholarships because of NCAA rules violations committed by his predecessors. By 1993, the Bearcats enjoyed an 8-3 record, the program's first winning record in 12 years. The team also graduated a minimum of70 percent of its most recent recruiting class, one of only 20 Division I schools to do so that year.

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STRIKING A BALANCE

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MURPHY athletes we can, and at the end of the day, you have to have great athletes."

During his time with Harvard, he oversaw dramatic facilities construction and renovations, including a stadium upgrade in 2006-2007. The upgrade featured a migration from natural grass to FieldTurf, an installation of a removable dome extending facilities usage throughout the year, video board and PA system upgrades, and installation oflights to allow for night games. "What we do here is really no different from what they do at places like Stanford, Vanderbilt, Northwestern, Boston College or Notre Dame.'says Murphy. "Our players are up at 6 a.m. strength training year-round. You constantly have to make sure you have the best facilities possible. Everything they're doing at those schools, we have to do. It's all relative." Since its completion in 2007, Harvard athletes have enjoyed the use of the Palmer Dixon Strength And Conditioning Center, one of the best strength and conditioning facilities in the U.S. The facility boasts 24,000 square feet of new, state-of-theart equipment. It features 24 training stations, 21,000 square feet of all-purpose turf flooring, 12 40-yard lanes, indoor and outdoor medicine ball walls and a 3,000 square foot conditioning loft. It is located next to the football stadium as well as other arenas, practice fields and locker rooms, which is a key for busy student-athletes. "We may be FCS, Division I, as opposed to what Stanford or Notre Dame is, but we have to do the same things," says Murphy. "We have to nationally recruit, we have to raise money and build great facilities to attract the best student-

Room For Advancement
Through his career, Murphy has worked his way up the ranks as a coach. He began as a part time graduate assistant at Brown in 1979, then coached at Lafayette, followed by Boston University, the University of Maine, Cincinnati and finally Harvard. "The reason I got into coaching was - at every level, from little league baseball to high school basketball to college football- I was surrounded by great coaches," he says. "I was very fortunate to be in that situation. My high school football coach and my college football coach were at my wedding. They had a huge impact on me. I don't think I ever had a coach that really didn't care about me. That was my motivation for getting into coaching." He says moving up through the coaching ranks is a tangible, hands-on process, and young assistants sometimes erroneously think there is a silver bullet for advancement. "To me, there is no silver bullet," he says. "The best way to keep moving up in the profession is to make yourself as indispensable as possible wherever you are currently working." It's fundamental to have a great work ethic, but that's just to survive in this profession, says Murphy. To move up, you have to understand that it's a very tangible profession. "Who's the guy that recruits the best athletes? Who's the guy that consistently has a great defense? Who's the guy that consistently has an offense that moves the football and scores points? Those are quantifiable things and they don't go unnoticed." He has likewise worked his way up through the AFCA. He recalls attending his first AFCA Convention at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami in the early '80s while working as a GA for Brown. "For a young kid just out of college, it was eyes-wide-open," he says. In 2005, Murphy was elected to the AFCA Board of Trustees. In 2011, he was elected First Vice President. In 2012, Murphy will serve as President of the Association. He is keenly aware of the value the AFCA Convention delivers to coaches of all levels. "Coaches have an opportunity to absorb so much different material, so many philosophies, so much relating to football that you're never going to find in anyone place except the convention," he says. "There is also a tremendous sense of camaraderie among the coaches at the convention, especially the assistants. It's just a fun, festive and educational event." The event is also an incredible opportunity for coaches to network, says Murphy. Numerous coaches find information that leads to career improvement and advancement. But, says Murphy, there is only one key to moving up through the ranks, no matter what your job is or what you aspire to do. "Make yourself indispensable and keep doing a great job where you are."

Now that's a balanced approach.

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