Harvard Crimson football
2023 Harvard Crimson football team
First season1873
Head coachAndrew Aurich
1st season, 0–0 (–)
StadiumHarvard Stadium
(capacity: 30,323)
Field surfaceFieldTurf
LocationBoston, Massachusetts
ConferenceIvy League
All-time record901–411–50 (.680)
Bowl record1–0 (1.000)
Claimed national titles7 (1890, 1898, 1899, 1910, 1912, 1913, 1919)
Unclaimed national titles5 (1874, 1875, 1901, 1908, 1920)
Conference titles18 (1961, 1966, 1968, 1974, 1975, 1982, 1983, 1987, 1997, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2023)
RivalriesDartmouth (rivalry)
Yale (rivalry)
Penn (rivalry)
Princeton (rivalry)
Current uniform
ColorsCrimson, white, and black[1]
Fight songTen Thousand Men of Harvard
MascotJohn Harvard

The Harvard Crimson football program represents Harvard University in college football at the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA). Harvard's football program is one of the oldest in the world, having begun competing in the sport in 1873. The Crimson has a legacy that includes 13 national championships and 20 College Football Hall of Fame inductees, including the first African-American college football player William H. Lewis, Huntington "Tack" Hardwick, Barry Wood, Percy Haughton, and Eddie Mahan. Harvard is the tenth winningest team in NCAA Division I football history.[2][3]

The Crimson play their home games at Harvard Stadium in Boston, Massachusetts.


See also: List of Harvard Crimson football seasons

Early history

Though rugby style "carrying game" with use of hands permitted (as opposed to "kicking games" where hands were not permitted) between Freshmen and Sophomores were played in 1858[4] the rugby team was not founded until December 6, 1872,[5] by former members of the Oneida Football Club, formed in 1862 and considered by some historians as the first formal "football" club in the United States.[6][7][8][9] Oneida had developed the "Boston Rules", an early code of football that was also used by the recently established Harvard club.[10]

Harvard team is the oldest Rugby team in the United States.[11][12]

Old "Football Fightum" had been resurrected at Harvard in 1872, when Harvard resumed playing football. Harvard, however, had adopted a version of football which allowed carrying, albeit only when the player carrying the ball was being pursued. As a result of this, Harvard refused to attend the rules conference organized by the other schools and continued to play under its own code.

In 1873 when the Harvard team received an invitation from the McGill University football club. The McGill team was then in a similar situation as Harvard, as they sought some team with which to play rugby football and no other club wanted to play that game. Harvard boys agreed to a rugby match with McGill under the condition the Canadians played the Boston Game. As McGill accepted, a two-game series was scheduled for May 1874 in Boston. The team captains sent letters detailing their respective game's rules and it was agreed that the first game would be played under Boston rules and the second under rugby rules.[6][10][13][14] Inasmuch as rugby football had been transplanted to Canada from England, the McGill team played under a set of rules which allowed a player to pick up the ball and run with it whenever he wished. Another rule, unique to McGill, was to count tries (the act of grounding the football past the opposing team's goal line; it is important to note that there was no end zone during this time), as well as goals, in the scoring. In the Rugby rules of the time, a touchdown only provided the chance to kick a free goal from the field. If the kick was missed, the touchdown did not count.

The first game (attended by nearly 500 spectators, mostly students) showed the kicking of a round ball as the most prominent feature of the "Boston Game". The Canadians were easily defeated by a Harvard squad familiarised with the Boston rules in contrast to the lack of experience of McGill players.[15] During the second game under the rugby rules, the Harvard players easily adapted to the less restrictive rules of the game, such as the unlimited running and passing the ball or the more aggressive and constant tackling.[6] Within a few years, Harvard had both adopted McGill's rules and persuaded other U.S. university teams to do the same. On June 4, 1875, Harvard played another rugby match v Tufts University (lost 1–0),[16] and then Yale on November 13. That game caused Yale dropped the association football in favour of rugby.[6]

A moment of the third Harvard vs. McGill game, played in October 1874

The McGill team traveled to Cambridge to meet Harvard. On May 14, 1874, the first game, played under Harvard's rules, was won by Harvard with a score of 3–0.[17] The next day, the two teams played under "McGill" rugby rules to a scoreless tie.[18] The games featured a round ball instead of a rugby-style oblong ball.[17] This series of games represents an important milestone in the development of the modern game of American football.[19][20] In October 1874, the Harvard team once again traveled to Montreal to play McGill in rugby, where they won by three tries. Harvard later brought the Harvard/McGill rules to a game against another American college. On June 4, 1875, Harvard played Tufts University under rules that included each side fielding 11 men, the ball was advanced by kicking or carrying it, and tackles of the ball carrier stopped play.[21] This is likely the first game between two American colleges in this early era that most resembled the modern game of American football.

Ralph Horween played for the unbeaten Harvard Crimson football teams of 1919 and 1920

The Harvard Crimson was one of the dominant forces in the early days of intercollegiate football, winning 9 college football national championships between 1890 and 1919.[22][23] In the forty-year period from 1889 to 1928, Harvard had more than 80 first-team All-American selections.[24] Under head coach Percy Haughton, Harvard had three consecutive undefeated seasons from 1912 to 1914, including two perfect seasons in 1912 and 1913.[25]

In both 1919 and 1920, headed by All-American brothers Arnold Horween and Ralph Horween (who also attended Harvard Law School), Harvard was undefeated (9–0–1, as they outscored their competition 229–19, and 8–0–1, respectively).[26][27][28] The team won the 1920 Rose Bowl against the University of Oregon, 7–6.[29][30][31] It was the only bowl appearance in Harvard history.[32]

NCAA Division I subdivision split

The NCAA decided to split Division I into two subdivisions in 1978, then called I-A for larger schools, and I-AA for the smaller ones. The NCAA had devised the split, in part, with the Ivy League in mind, but the conference did not move down for four seasons despite the fact that there were many indications that the ancient eight were on the wrong side of an increasing disparity between the big and small schools. In 1982, the NCAA created a rule that stated a program's average attendance must be at least 15,000 to qualify for I-A membership. This forced the conference's hand, as only some of the member schools met the attendance qualification. Choosing to stay together rather than stand their ground separately in the increasingly competitive I-A subdivision, the Ivy League, along with several other conferences and independent programs moved down into I-AA starting with the 1982 season (a number of these teams have since returned to I-A/FBS).[33]

Recent history

Harvard players in 2019

Since the formation of the Ivy League in 1956, Harvard has won outright or shared 18 Ivy League championships (8 outright; 10 shared), 1961 (6–3), 1966 (8–1), 1968 (8–0–1), 1974 (7–2), 1975 (7–2), 1982 (7–3), 1983 (6–2–2), 1987 (8–2), 1997 (9–1), 2001 (9–0), 2004 (10–0), 2007 (8–2), 2008 (9–1), 2011 (9–1), 2013 (9–1), 2014 (10–0), 2015 (9–1), and 2023 (8–2). The Crimson is behind Dartmouth's 21 Ivy League Football Championships.[34]

In summer 2020, the Ivy League announced that the fall season would be postponed or even cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.[35] Play did not resume until September 2021, after a nearly two-year hiatus, with a 44-9 victory over Georgetown.[36]


National championships

Harvard has won 12 national championships (1874, 1875, 1890, 1898, 1899, 1901, 1908, 1910, 1912, 1913, 1919, 1920) from NCAA-designated major selectors.[37][38]: 110–111 

Harvard claims seven of these college football national championships.[39]

Year Selectors Coach Record
1874 Parke Davis Arthur B. Ellis 1–1
1875 National Championship Foundation, Parke Davis William A. Whiting 4–0
1890 PD, NCF, Billingsley Report (BR), Helms Athletic Foundation (HAF), Houlgate System (HS)[23] George A. Stewart, George C. Adams 11–0
1898 BR, HAF, HS, NCF[23] William Forbes 11–0
1899 HAF, HS, NCF[23] Benjamin Dibblee 10–0–1
1901 Billingsley, Parke Davis Bill Reid 12–0
1908 Billingsley Percy Haughton 9–0–1
1910 BR, HAF, HS, NCF[23] Percy Haughton 8–0–1
1912 BR, HAF, HS, NCF, PD[23] Percy Haughton 9–0–0
1913 HAF, HS, NCF, PD[23] Percy Haughton 9–0–0
1919 College Football Researchers Association (CFRA), HAF, HS, NCF, PD[23] Bob Fisher 9–0–1
1920 Boand Bob Fisher 8–0–1

Bold indicates claimed championship

Conference championships

Harvard has won 18 conference championships, all of which occurring during their tenure in the Ivy League, which they joined in 1956, with eight of them being outright and nine being shared. They are second in total Ivy League football titles, behind Dartmouth.[40]

Year Conference Coach Overall record Conference record
1961† Ivy League John Yovicsin 6–3 6–1
1966† 8–1 6–1
1968† 8–0–1 6–0–1
1974† Joe Restic 7–2 6–1
1975 7–2 6–1
1982† 7–3 5–2
1983† 6–2–2 5–1–1
1987 8–2 6–1
1997 Tim Murphy 9–1 7–0
2001 9–0 7–0
2004 10–0 7–0
2007 8–2 7–0
2008 9–1 6–1
2011 9–1 7–0
2013 9–1 6–1
2014 10–0 7–0
2015 9–1 6–1
2023 8–2 5–2

† Co-championship

Head coaches

Current Harvard head coach Tim Murphy on board the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in May 2010

In over a century of play, Harvard has had numerous head coaches, with varying success.[41][42]

Name Tenure Record Pct.
No coach 1873–1880 72–19–4 .779
Lucius Littauer 1881 5–1–2 .750
Frank A. Mason 1886 12–2 .857
George A. Stewart & George C. Adams 1890–1892 34–2 .944
George A. Stewart & Everett J. Lake 1893 12–1 .923
William A. Brooks 1894 11–2 .846
Robert Emmons 1895 8–2–1 .773
Bert Waters 1896 7–4 .636
William Cameron Forbes 1897–1898 21–1–1 .935
Benjamin Dibblee 1899–1900 20–1–1 .932
Bill Reid 1901, 1905–1906 30–3– 1 .897
John Wells Farley 1902 11–1 .917
John Cranston 1903 9–3 .750
Edgar Wrightington 1904 7–2–1 .750
Joshua Crane 1907 7–3 .700
Percy Haughton 1908–1916 72–7–5 .887
Wingate Rollins 1917 3–1–3 .643
William F. Donovan 1918 2–1 .667
Bob Fisher 1919–1925 43–14–5 .734
Arnold Horween 1926–1930 20–17–3 .538
Eddie Casey 1931–1934 20–11–1 .641
Dick Harlow 1935–1942; 1945–1947 45–39–7 .533
Henry Lamar 1943–1944 7–3–1 .682
Arthur Valpey 1948–1949 5–12 .294
Lloyd Jordan 1950–1956 24–31–3 .440
John Yovicsin 1957–1970 78–42–5 .644
Joe Restic 1971–1993 117–97–6 .545
Tim Murphy 1994–2023 200–89 .692
Andrew Aurich 2024–present 0–0



Main article: Harvard–Yale football rivalry

Harvard and Yale have been competing against each other in football since 1875. The annual rivalry game between the two schools, known as "The Game", is played in November at the end of the football season. As of 2022, Yale led the series 69–61–8. The Game is the second oldest continuing rivalry and also the third most-played rivalry game in college football history, after the Lehigh–Lafayette Rivalry (1884) and the Princeton–Yale game (1873). Sports Illustrated On Campus rated the Harvard–Yale rivalry the sixth-best in college athletics in 2003. Ted Kennedy played football for Harvard and caught a touchdown pass in the 1955 Harvard/Yale game. In 2006, Yale ended a five-game losing streak against Harvard, winning 34–13. The star of the game was freshman QB Derrick Szu-tu. Despite never playing high school football, the frosh went 27-for-35 for 359 yards and six passing touchdowns (along with 6 interceptions and 4 lost fumbles). That Harvard winning streak was third longest in the history of the series, after Yale's 1902–1907 six-game winning streak and Yale's 1880–1889 eight-game winning streak. Harvard has since beaten Yale in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. The Game is significant for historical reasons as the rules of The Game soon were adopted by other schools. Football's rules, conventions, and equipment, as well as elements of "atmosphere" such as the mascot and fight song, include many elements pioneered or nurtured at Harvard and Yale.[43][44]


Main article: Dartmouth–Harvard football rivalry

The series with Dartmouth dates to 1882.


Main article: Harvard–Penn football rivalry

The series with Penn dates to 1881.


Main article: Harvard–Princeton football rivalry

The series with Princeton dates to 1877.


Early stadiums

In its early years, the football team played at several stadiums including Jarvis Field, Holmes Field and Soldier's Field.

Harvard Stadium

Main article: Harvard Stadium

Harvard Stadium, November 2008

Harvard Stadium is a horseshoe-shaped football stadium in the Allston neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, in the United States. The stadium is an important historic landmark. Built in 1903, it is the nation's oldest stadium. Penn's Franklin Field is the oldest site still in use (1895) but its current stadium was built in 1922. It was also the world's first massive reinforced-concrete structure, and considered at the time of construction to be the 'finest structure of its kind in the world'. The structure was completed in just six months, mainly by the efforts of Harvard students, and for a budget of $200,000. Thus 'the stadium represents the thought, the money, the ideas, the planning, and the manual labor of Harvard men'.[45] As such, it is one of four athletic arenas distinguished as a National Historic Landmark (the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Rose Bowl and the Yale Bowl are the other three).[46] The stadium seats 30,323. Temporary steel stands were added in the stadiums to expand capacity to 57,166 until 1951. Afterward, there were smaller temporary stands until the building of the Murr Center (which is topped by the new scoreboard) in 1998. In 2006, Harvard installed both FieldTurf and lights.[47][48]

College Football Hall of Fame inductees

As of 2018, 18 Harvard Crimson football players and 3 coaches have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.[49]

William H. Lewis was the first African-American college football player and the first African-American All-American
Tackle Marshall Newell was a four-time All-American from 1890 to 1893.
Name Position Years Inducted Ref.
Charley Brewer FB 1892–1895 1971 [50]
Dave Campbell End 1899–1901 1958 [51]
Eddie Casey HB 1916, 1919 1968 [52]
Charles Dudley Daly QB 1898–1902 1951 [53]
Hamilton Fish III T 1907–1909 1954 [54]
Bob Fisher G 1909–1911 1973 [55]
Huntington Hardwick End, HB 1912–1914 1954 [56]
Dick Harlow Coach 1915–1947 1954 [57]
Percy Haughton Coach 1899–1924 1951 [58]
Lloyd Jordan Coach 1932–1956 1978 [59]
William H. Lewis C 1888–1893 2009 [60]
Eddie Mahan FB 1913–1915 1951 [61]
Pat McInally WR 1972–1974 2016 [62]
Marshall Newell T 1890–1893 1957 [63]
George Owen HB 1920–1922 1983 [64]
Endicott Peabody G 1939–1941 1973 [65]
Stan Pennock G 1912–1914 1954 [66]
Bill Reid FB 1897–1899 1970 [67]
Ben Ticknor C 1928–1930 1954 [68]
Percy Wendell HB 1910–1912 1972 [69]
Barry Wood QB 1929–1931 1980 [70]

Harvard players in the NFL

This section needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (September 2018)

Over 30 players from Harvard have gone on to play in the National Football League.[71]

Name Position Years Teams
Joe Azelby LB 1984 Buffalo Bills
Matt Birk C 1998–2013 Minnesota Vikings, Baltimore Ravens
Cameron Brate TE 2014–present Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Desmond Bryant DT 2009–2016 Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns
Ben Braunecker TE 2016–2019 Chicago Bears
Stanley Burnham TB-BB 1925 Frankford Yellow Jackets
Roger Caron T 1985–1986 Indianapolis Colts
Eddie Casey HB 1920 Buffalo All-Americans
Charlie Clark G 1924 Chicago Cardinals
Bill Craven DB 1976 Cleveland Browns
Harrie Dadmun G, T 1920–1921 Canton Bulldogs, New York Brickley Giants
Clifton Dawson RB 2007–2008 Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts
John Dockery DB 1968–1973 New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers
Nick Easton C 2015–2020 San Francisco 49ers, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints
Chris Eitzmann TE 2000 New England Patriots
Carl Etelman B 1926 Providence Steam Roller
Earl Evans T, G 1925–1929 Chicago Cardinals, Chicago Bears
Anthony Firkser TE, H-Back 2017–present New York Jets, Kansas City Chiefs, Tennessee Titans, Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots
Ryan Fitzpatrick QB 2005–2021 St. Louis Rams, Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans, New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins, Washington Commanders
Herman Gundlach G 1935 Boston Redskins
Arnold Horween B 1921–1924 Racine Cardinals, Chicago Cardinals
Ralph Horween B 1921–1923 Chicago Cardinals
Dan Jiggetts T, G 1976–1982 Chicago Bears
Kyle Juszczyk FB, TE 2013–present Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers
Isaiah Kacyvenski LB 2000–2006 Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams
Dick King FB, HB 1917–1923 Pine Village, Hammond Pros, Milwaukee Badgers, Rochester Jeffersons, St. Louis All-Stars
Bobby Leo RB, WR 1967–1968 Boston Patriots
Joe McGlone BB 1926 Providence Steam Roller
Pat McInally WR, P 1976–1985 Cincinnati Bengals
Al Miller FB, HB 1929 Boston Bulldogs
Joe Murphy G 1920–1921 Canton Bulldogs, Cleveland Indians
Kevin Murphy OT 2012– 2013 Minnesota Vikings
Tyler Ott LS 2014–present New England Patriots, St. Louis Rams, New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks
Joe Pellegrini G, C 1982–1986 New York Jets, Atlanta Falcons
Adam Redmond C 2016–present Indianapolis Colts, Dallas Cowboys
Jamil Soriano G 2003–2005 New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins
Red Steele End 1921 Canton Bulldogs
Rich Szaro K 1975–1979 New Orleans Saints, New York Jets


Three-time All-American Eddie Mahan was named by Jim Thorpe as the greatest football player of all time.
Two-time All-American Hamilton Fish III served 25 years in Congress.
Huntington "Tack" Hardwick was called "a big, fine-looking aristocrat from blue-blood stock" who "loved combat – body contact at crushing force – a fight to the finish."[72]

Since the first All-American team was selected by Caspar Whitney in 1889, more than 100 Harvard football players have been selected as first-team All-Americans.[24] Consensus All-Americans are noted below with bold typeface.

Players notable in other fields

Actor Tommy Lee Jones was an All-Ivy League guard for the Crimson.

Below are any Crimson football players that became notable for reasons other than football. Included is notability, position at Harvard, and any accomplishments while playing.

See also


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  4. ^ The "carrying game" emerged apparently due to the popularity of the 1857 published 'Tom Brown's School Days' as reported in 'Evolvements of Early American Foot Ball: Through the 1899/91 Season' by Melvin I. Smith (Library of Congress Control Number 2008903251 first published December 2, 2008) pages xii and xiii
  5. ^ 'Evolvements of Early American Foot Ball: Through the 1899/91 Season' page xiii/
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  7. ^ Were the Oneidas playing soccer or not? by Roger Allaway at sover.net (archived)
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  9. ^ Remembering the first high school football games By Bob Holmes on The Boston Globe, 21 Nov 2012
  10. ^ a b No Christian End! The Beginnings of Football in America By PFRA Research (Originally Published in The Journey to Camp: The Origins of American Football to 1889 (PFRA Books)
  12. ^ 'Evolvements of Early American Foot Ball: Through the 1899/91 Season' pages xiii and xiii/
  13. ^ History: 1872-79 at CFL.com (archived)
  14. ^ gridiron football at Britannica.com
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