Friday, September 5, 2014

Harvard Crimson (2012-13, 1967-70)

Harvard, of course, is part of the cradle of college football, having played the sport since 1874. Everything about Harvard reeks of history - the Crimson claims seven national titles, all predating the Harding administration - but the present isn’t too shabby, either. Harvard was won 14 Ivy League titles, six since Tim Murphy became coach in 1994. And there’s that little rivalry with Yale, which can barely be called a rivalry these days: The Crimson has defeated the Bulldogs 12 of the last 13 occasions, putting this series in UNH-Maine territory for one-sidedness.
Harvard also earns bonus points for its recent NFL contributions (lineman Matt Birk, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick).
Rules, notes and other goodies about Harvard’s uniforms:
  • Harvard is one of the most tradition-minded teams in this project (whatta shock). The current jersey style, with a few minor tweaks, dates back to 1980. The current helmet, also with some modifications in the “H,” dates back to 1994. The basic helmet pattern - crimson helmet with black and white stripes down the middle - goes back to the 1960s.
  • In 1974, Harvard put a cheeky decal on its helmet reading “1874-1974 THE REAL FOOTBALL CENTENNIAL.” You see, Harvard claims the famous Princeton-Rutgers game that started the whole thing in 1869 wasn’t really a football game and that Harvard’s game with McGill in ’74 was closer to “real” football that what its Jersey counterparts were playing. I have a game program from 1974 that has the centennial logo splashed all over it: 

  • Harvard has had some funky helmets in the past: A black-and-red Michigan-style design was used in the late 1940s and a strange half-red, half-white look with numbers on the side was used in the early 1960s. A black alternate helmet was unveiled for 2012 but never used. (Let’s hope the same fate befalls Dartmouth’s proposed silver alternate helmet.)
  • Other oddities: Black pants were worn briefly in the late ‘40s and Boston Red Sox-style numbers were used in the ‘50s.
  • Nike has made the uniforms since 2006 or so.
The Harvard uniform (the most recent edition is shown above) has undergone some gradual modifications over the years. The crimson has grown gradually darker (at least by these eyes) and the gold pants have grown gradually lighter. And nothing beats the school seal (complete with Latin lingo) on the shoulders.

The vintage Harvard uniform is from the program’s finest hour: The Crimson’s 29-29 come-from-behind “win” over Yale, retold a billion times and the subject of a documentary film and book. This game between undefeated teams had mountains of hype and then did the impossible and surpassed it. Number 27 was worn by Frank Champi, the backup QB who threw the “winning” 2-point conversion — and quit the team the next season.

Up next: The Penn Quakers.

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