I have a confession: My mother went to Harvard.
I don’t really like to talk about it. She was young, and everyone makes mistakes. Well, technically she went to Radcliffe, because Harvard held onto its stuffy, old-fashioned nature and did not become a single co-ed college until 1999. That’s not a typo. Although Harvard technically overtook Radcliffe’s day-to-day operations in 1971, John Harvard in all his misogyny refused to fully merge with his sister school until 28 years later —reportedly due to concerns about cooties.
Cooties — and girls for that matter — are not the only things that worry Harvard students. Final exams, for instance, frightened one Harvard student last year into faking a bomb threat on campus.
In another well-known example, a group of more than 120 students were so terrified about the final exam for a class called “Introduction to Congress” that they cheated in a lecture that the average American could have aced after listening to Schoolhouse Rock’s “I’m Just a Bill.”
Harvard is also apparently a little self-conscious about how it looks, as The Crimson goes to great lengths to find the 15 freshmen each year that could possibly be labeled “hot,” as if to say “See! I told you we aren’t all ugly!”
It’s not what Harvard should be scared of, however, but whom. Harvard should be scared of running back Tyler Varga ’15.
He is fourth in the Football Championship Subdivision with 144 rushing yards per game (more than four teams in the Ivy League). He is third in the FCS in rushing touchdowns with 20, despite playing two fewer games than the two players above him. He also has 23 total touchdowns by himself, which is the same number of rushing touchdowns that Harvard has …as a team.
On Sept. 27, Varga and Yale faced off against Army. Varga rushed for five touchdowns and 185 yards as Yale conquered the Cadets, the Ivy League’s first win over a Football Bowl Subdivision team since 1986.
Let me repeat that: Yale beat the U.S. Army. These are the same upstanding young men who are responsible for the defense of the greatest country on Earth. Army has not allowed an attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor, yet Yale vanquished the Cadets with a well-coordinated ground and aerial assault.
Although Varga was the battering ram for the most impressive offensive campaign since D-Day, he did not do it alone. Field general Morgan Roberts ’16 orchestrated the onslaught, distributing the ball to playmakers like wide receivers Deon Randall ’15 and Grant Wallace ’15, helping the best offense in the FCS put up 49 points against an FBS foe.
Harvard head coach Tim Murphy could tell his team that all they have to do is play Yale and then the season is over. But given Yale’s offense, Murphy would sound an awful lot like the U.S. Army when it told General George A. Custer that all he had to do was make one last stand.
So far I have focused mostly on football, but while The Game is the centerpiece of the weekend, it will itself last only a few hours, and it will leave the weekend nights wide open for celebrating (Yale) or drinking away your sorrows (take a guess).
This reminds me of what my mother once told me about the weekend scene at Harvard. She said that on Friday nights she would go to Herrell’s for ice cream on the way home from the library. When I went to Cambridge for The Game two years ago, I sincerely hoped that Harvard’s nightlife had changed since her time. I was right — Herrell’s had closed.
Mama hadn’t mentioned Final Clubs; perhaps she was trying to spare me from the description of a place where pretentious Harvard students have to disgrace themselves in order to belong to special groups with even more pretentious names. They do all of this just to earn the privilege of drinking some low-quality beer that costs about $0.67 per can.
At Yale, we know that our dignity is worth more than $0.67. We can look to the example of a Yale graduate, and national hero, Nathan Hale, class of 1773, who gave his only life for his country. And as Hale so famously said as he stood bravely on the gallows: “Harvard sucks. Roll Dawgs!”