The ladies who serve and prepare the food at Currier House all have crushes on senior Mike Corbat.
The woman who checks off the names--the one sitting at the desk--smiles and winks at him. Then the greyish, plump one who serves the french onion dip giggles, when Corbat quips something that's not-so-funny. And during lunch, a man who also works in the dining room--he's the aged guy, with a slightly arched back who stands around in his red coat--comes over to Corbat and gives him some present all wrapped up in tinfoil. The guy in the red coat paternally pats him on the shoulder and walks away.
"I just give them tickets to some of the games," he explains.
You see, Mike Corbat is a 6-ft, 3-m, 230 pound dear.
"He was always outgoing and good natured as a child," Corbat's mother. Mrs. Deanne Corbat, said of her son. "He was always doing something. He never watched television."
Whatever the case. Corbat--an all-Ivy offensive guard on the Harvard football team--may be a dear to the people who work in the dining hall, but he certainly isn't dear to his opponents. People who are dears on the field don't get contacted by at least a half-dozen teams informing him of the possibilities of his playing in the National Football League.
"They [NFL scouts] feel that if I put on a good 20 to 25 pounds, then I'd stand a good shot at playing," Corbat said. "Right now, playing in the NFL, would only be the icing on the cake. If football had always been my main goal then I would have gone to some scholarship school I could have gotten more exposure there."
Corbat doesn't emphasize the prospects of playing professional football. It doesn't seem to be that important to him. "If I were drafted in the top eight rounds, then I would seriously consider playing. But I don't forsee that as a likelihood. If I was [drafted up high], then it would mean that those teams [Oakland, San Francisco, Tampa Bay, Dallas, Seattle and the New York Jets] are serious enough about me to make me serious about them. I'm just not psyched to be somebody's piece of meat somewhere."
Next year, Corbat intends to be involved in investment banking. Presently, he is an economics major. Corbat considers pursuing a graduate school career, but that would be "a few years off from now."
One of the most striking things about Mike Corbat is his reluctance to talk about himself for any extended length of time. It would be easy for Corbat to dwell on his personal accomplishments: there have been enough of them which have occured on the gridiron. But Corbat seems to brush aside his being an All-Ivy team member. And he seems almost embarrassed to expound on being recognized by NFL scouts.
Satisfaction comes to Corbat when he can contribute to a team effort. To him, everything revolves around the team.
In the Harvard football program, it is exceedingly difficult for a sophomore to receive substantial playing time. Even if that sophomore more is a Mike Corbat.
"Athletically, my sophomore year was very frustrating for me. It was frustrating to be on the sidelines and not being able to be a contributing factor to the team. It was like my hands were tied." Corbat said. "Everyone is important in their own way, but when you're in the game and a part of it, that day, you know you made a contribution."
The typical football fan doesn't recognize or appreciate the accomplishments of an offensive guard. He doesn't cheer for the line man when a hole is created so Scottie McCabe can slip through for 15. He applauds only when he witnesses a Donnie Allard TD toss or a Jim Villenueava 42-yd field goal.
"True, there's not much glory in being an offensive guard, but it has always been that way for me, and I like what I do, Every game. I try 'o play so I am happy for myself. You can't help a team without being self motivated," Corbat said.
When asked why he prefers to direct the conversation away from himself and to the team as a whole Corbat said. "I don't think that without the other players. I would have gotten where I am Jim Callman rushed for 1,000 yards last year. There must be some-body blocking there. Your teammates bring recognition to you."
And Corbat insists that his emphasis on the team is not particular to only himself. It is in dicative of the entire. Harvard football program this year. That cohesive feeling which the squad experiences this year is what has made it so much more successful than in the past few seasons.
"This year everybody on the team is a leader," Corbat said. There's not one guy who makes or breaks the team. Last year some people thought Callinan was the team. This year it's everybody's contribution.
Everybody tries to lead by example. Everybody's not rah-rah Brownie [Harvard captain Greg Brown] goes out on the field and blocks his own guy. He's not the leader that says. "Hey, we gotta do this and we gotta do that. He just does it Harry [Cash] is the same way.
"A lot of teams are broken into factions. There are rivalries here, sure, but they are all healthy rivalries. I've thought about it a lot, but it's really hard to explain. It's just that this team has real good chemistry."
Mrs. Corbat attempted to explain what her son had difficulty pin pointing. "I think [that a lot of his success] is Mike's living situation. He plays and lives with his teammates. It gives them a feeling of closeness, when playing. It's a lot like their being brothers.
When questioned about the prospects of winning the Ivy League title. Corbat cupped his hands behind the back of his neck placed his forehead on the and said. It would be fulfilling a foul it goal It's hard to say how I would react I've never been on a championship team before Winning the Ivy League championed something that all the guys and I talked about for four years."
Corbat was unavailable for comment after Harvard's crushing 23-21 loss to Penn Saturday. That defeat dashed Harvard's hopes of winning the Ivy title outright.
Said Mrs. Corbat of her family's reaction: "Everyone, of course felt crushed. But we have, next week to play. We'll think ahead to that."
Something which seems to irritate Corbat is the perceived stereotype which the Harvard community appears to foster against football players. "People at times seem to accept us and at times they tend to think of us an less than the Harvard standard human being Why' This is a place that seems to pride itself on academic institutions. It seems to rally itself around academics but not athletics."
But the stereotype is not true, contended Corbat. "We have some guys who achieve academically with the best in the school Joe Margolis [one of Corbat's roommates] scored in the top five percentiles in the nation on his law boards.
Corbat's successes extend beyond the Harvard football program. Corbat is an entrepreneur running his own business and netting a profit.
It's called MCI Enterprises. It's a labor intensive operation with services being performed on a bid contract basis. It I bid the lowest, then I'm awarded the contract. We do a lot of clean-up work. We paint, landscape and do some light construction. But most of these aren't small jobs. We work in large buildings and large facilities requiring eight to 10 people per job."
"I just saw the need for it when looking around Students always need jobs, so there's a broad labor base. There wasn't anything to lose. It was just a matter of me getting out there and going I'm competing against people who have high overhead I don't have much of an overhead. We beat oct some big painting contractors and some big Findscaping people."
Corbat, the only officer of the firm said that his company began operation last February and netted profit in March.
"He's always been competitive in sports," Mrs. Corbat said. But he's always been able to make a dollar on his own." Mrs. Corbat owns her own travel agency.
This Saturday will be Mike Corbat's last game in a Harvard Jersey. He will graduate not having won an undisputed Ivy League crown. But he will also close out his career knowing that he has been a vital part to one of Harvard's best squads in years.
Corbat pretty much summarized his feelings about his career at Harvard by referring to his team. The most important part is that everything is a team effort, not an individual effort. What good is an individual effort if a team loses' I would personally rather have a bad game and have the team win.
I'm very happy with Harvard. It combines the best of both worlds academics and athletics. It has given me everything that I would have hoped for."