Glenn Caruso was 33 and had a 6-12 record in two seasons as the football coach at Macalester. St. Thomas was looking for a new coach after a 2-8 season in 2007, and athletic director Steve Fritz took a shot on the young coach located a mile away.
The results have been phenomenal: an overall record of 110-17, an MIAC record of 72-8, and 7-4 against archrival St. John’s (including four in a row).
The Tommies had been highly successful as an overall athletic program and there had been some grumbling as to their fit with the rest of the MIAC. When football dominance, complete with outrageous margins of victory, was added to the mix, the grumbling turned to an outcry:
“St. Thomas doesn’t belong in the MIAC.”
Decades ago, I was doing a series on the football dominance of Ohio State and Michigan in the Big Ten (a k a, the Big Two and the Little Eight) and former Gophers coach Murray Warmath explained it thusly:
“They are sitting right there in the middle of the cabbage patch” — meaning, surrounded by players in the then-superb football areas of Western Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan.
The Twin Cities metro area is the cabbage patch for the MIAC, and St. Thomas sits in the middle, with the lure of academics, facilities and a terrific setting.
My contact with St. Thomas is on the sports front. It’s an emotional time in that building right now:
Rachael Caruso, mother of three and Glenn’s wife, continues her prayer-filled tussle with colon cancer. John Tauer, the men’s basketball coach, has a loved one dealing with cancer.
And Thursday came this shock: Doug Hennes, 63, died at home suddenly from an apparent heart attack.
Hennes had UST duties far more important than sports, but as a former Pioneer Press reporter and editor, he dived in to greatly assist Gene McGivern, the sports information director, and provide quality coverage for tommiesports.com.
There will be a funeral service at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the chapel on campus. You are sure to see St. Thomas for what it is on that morning — larger than the rest of MIAC, yet as tight-knit in its fondness for the place and for one another.
PLUS THREE FROM PATRICK
Football notes from the MIAC:
• St. Thomas has a 27-game winning streak in conference games. Last loss: Oct. 25, 2014, vs. Bethel. The Tommies are at Concordia, St. John’s, Gustavus and Bethel — the first division — in 2018.
• Bethel has added Jaran Roste, a 6-3, 235-pound QB from Alexandria, as a transfer. He was an unused walk-on for the Gophers as a 2017 freshman.
• Tom Journell, Carleton’s new coach, has his first game for the most pretentious trophy in sports: Sept. 1 vs. Macalester for the “Book of Knowledge.”