CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — Harvard coach Tim Murphy won his 200th game during his 30th season with the Crimson — the school’s 150th season of football. He won his 10th Ivy League title this year, matching the conference record for a coach.
Murphy’s wife, Martha, pointed out all of the nice, round numbers recently and said, “I think someone’s trying to tell us something. It’s time to pack it in.”
So Murphy decided to retire this week, ending three decades on the Crimson sideline in which he became the winningest coach in Ivy League history.
“The milestones and team achievements are recorded for history,” Harvard athletic director Erin McDermott said on Thursday, a day after Murphy announced his retirement. “But I think more impactful for his players is knowing who he is as a person and is the strong and amazing community that he built for all of the alumni who are part of it.”
Murphy, 67, said another factor in his decision was the death of Dartmouth coach Buddy Teevens, whom he described as his best friend since they were growing up playing Little League baseball together. Teevens died in September from injuries he sustained in a March bicycle crash.
“We talked a long time ago when we both became young head coaches at a fairly young age, that we would go out together,” Murphy said on a conference call Thursday. “We still talked about it, X amount of years later. The combination thereof, it was just the right time.”
A four-year starter at linebacker for Springfield (Mass.) College, Murphy was named head coach at Maine and in 1987 led it to the first playoff appearance in school history. He was still just 32 when he took over a 1-10 team in Cincinnati and went 8-3 in his second season.
Since Harvard hired him in 1994, Murphy went 200-89 with the Crimson, including a record 141 wins in Ivy League play. His teams were unbeaten in 2001, 2004 and 2014, and he went 19-10 against archrival Yale.
More than 30 former Harvard players went on to sign NFL contracts, including quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who played 17 seasons for nine teams.
In all, Murphy was 232-134-1 in 37 seasons as a head coach.
McDermott said the search for a replacement will focus on an educator-coach who “understands and really believes in the Ivy model.”
“Yes, we want to be competitive. We want to win. We want to win Ivy championships,” she said. “We also want for our student athletes to have excellent mentors and teachers and people in their lives. And we don’t want the winning to come at the expense of that.”
Murphy said he didn’t know what he would do in retirement, but relaxation is on the list. He and his wife only recently went on a honeymoon to Ireland – 35 years after they were married; his daughter, Grace, got married in Italy.
“Apparently there’s a great big wide world out there that, quite frankly, apparently I’m not in tune with,” Murphy said.
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