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PROVIDENCE, R.I.--Harvard coach Tim Murphy did the right thing on Saturday. He took responsibility.
"It's as bad a beating as I have been involved in in a long time," Murphy said. "I take full responsibility. I obviously did not have these kids prepared well enough to play."
It takes a big person to say those words after the Crimson's 47-8 routing at the hands, toes and feet of Brown in Providence, R.I. on Saturday.
They are the words that Murphy should have been saying all season, rather than blaming his talented but inexperienced squad. Nonetheless, the players and fans should hold Murphy in higher esteem now that he has said them.
The honeymoon is over for the young coach from Cincinnati, who rode into town two Decembers ago with a plan to rearchitect Harvard football. Fans want results and Murphy has yet to deliver. What Murphy has delivered is a 1-7 record so far this season and a 4-6 one last year. His team's 0-5 Ivy record has it ingrained in or near the cellar of the Ancient Eight for the umpteenth consecutive season. No one expects miracles, but everyone expects the team to move forward and not back.
Things got even worse on Saturday for a team that was already on the bottom rung of the Ivy League's ladder. Harvard looked positively awful from the opening whistle. The Crimson lacked intensity, organization and any semblance of an offensive attack.
"This is obviously the low point in our effort to rebuild this team and this program," Murphy said. "I guess that's pretty obvious."
The Harvard offense went three-and-out on its first three drives. On the fourth, the offense spent four plays on the field because a Crimson penalty forced third down to be replayed. Harvard had 17 yards in the first half.
The Harvard defense did not look any better. Brown scored on all six of its first half drives, racking up 41 points, 370 yards and 12 third-down conversions in the process. Brown quarterback Jason McCullough (16-29, 186 yards, three touchdown passes, one interception) looked like an Ivy League Doug Flutie.
"I don't think I can sit here and say that we gave it a great effort," Murphy said. "We didn't give up. That's the best thing I can say. We played hard in the second half. That's the best thing I can say."
Harvard didn't give up on Saturday and it shouldn't give up now. The offense still ground it out in the second half. The defense still hit hard on every play. Vin Ferrara tried to stop a meaningless touchdown late in the game and the Crimson punt-return team even got their hands on a punt. Harvard also stopped a point-after attempt.
The Crimson has Penn and Yale left on its schedule, which means that it still has time to salvage some Ivy League face in this dismal season. Someone said that after Brown's loss that Harvard isn't even playing for pride anymore, that's simply not true. Pride is all the Crimson has left.
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