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Assistant football coaches Kris Barber, Joe M. Conlin, and A. Dwayne Wilmot will leave Harvard for positions at Yale, Harvard football head coach Tim Murphy announced to players in an email Sunday.
All three were allegedly lured away by Tony Reno—the secondary and special teams coach for Harvard during the 2011 season—who was hired as Yale’s next head football coach two weeks ago.
“Obviously this is an [unusual] if not unprecedented situation,” Murphy wrote in an email. “Especially in the same league with a historic rival. The bottom line is that Yale made them very lucrative offers financially along with titles.”
Barber had been the wide receivers coach, Conlin led the offensive line, and Wilmot served as the coach of the defensive line.
All three were members of the coaching staff for only one year.
“It came as a little bit of a surprise,” defensive tackle Jack J. Dittmer ’14 said. “You hate to see a coach go, but you have to accept it. It’s the nature of college football.”
Harvard has suffered serious losses in coaching staff in the past year.
Last year, Harvard lost four assistant coaches to a variety of posts in college and professional football.
“I wasn’t surprised coaches were leaving,” said offensive lineman Will L. Whitman ’15. “But I was surprised that that many coaches were leaving and, not only that, but that they were going to Yale.”
For Barber, the move might be explained by the fact that he was a quarterback at Yale for three years before graduating in 1997.
“Learning that Coach Reno got the head coaching job, I figured a few of our coaches would go with him,” wideout Matt S. Brown ’14 said. “Coach Barber was a Yale player, so I definitely thought that was a possibility.”
The new developments will add a twist to one of the most storied rivalries in college football.
“It’s going to up it from a rivalry to a personal game,” Whitman said. “We will want to beat them real bad next year.”
Receiver Seitu L. Smith III ’15, who was recruited by Reno and coached by Barber, rationalized the coaches’ decision.
“They got opportunities they couldn’t resist,” Smith said. “They’re doing what’s better for them and their families. You can’t be upset about that.”
In a text message to players, Conlin explained his decision similarly. According to one player, Conlin said that he was offered a better title and more money from Yale.
Conlin also insisted that he was not completely decided.
According to the player, Conlin said that if he chooses to stay, it would be out of love for his Harvard players.
Conlin wrote in an email that he has not signed a contract with Yale but declined to comment further.
Whitman said that the team had jokingly forecasted the move.
“We actually were joking around that because [Conlin] was such a good coach, he wouldn’t last long,” Whitman said.
Wilmot declined to comment and Barber could not be reached for comment.
The trio of departures represents another surprise in a nascent but already eventful offseason.
Following the Crimson’s 9-1 season, rumors swirled that Penn State was interested in Murphy to fill the seat left by coach Joe Paterno.
While those rumors never came to fruition, four out of nine coaches have since departed.
—Staff writer Jacob D. H. Feldman can be reached at email@example.com.
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