Reusse: Schools like Hamline struggle to keep up in MIAC

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 17, 2013 - 11:42 PM

The Division III MIAC has gotten deeper and deeper in football, and schools like Hamline are struggling to keep up.

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Hamline University football coach Chad Rogosheske

Dick Tressel was the football coach at Hamline from 1978 through 2000. There were some good times. Chad Rogosheske shared in one of the best, as a freshman special teamer and backup running back in 1994.

“We were at St. John’s for the Johnnies’ homecoming,” Rogosheske said. “We got a lead and were holding on at the end. The Johnnies scored to make it 27-26. This was before there was overtime in college football, so they went for two. We stopped them.”

He was sitting on a bench in Hutton Arena last week. He was talking about a head coaching career that kicks into a higher gear Sunday, when 79 players are expected to report for fall practice.

Rogosheske, 37, was named Hamline’s latest head coach last Dec. 10. He inherited a Pipers program that was 2-28 over the past three years, and takes a 25-game MIAC losing streak into this season.

“We were 7-3 and had a chance to win the MIAC in my sophomore year [1995],” Rogosheske said. “We fell back a ways, to 5-5, my last two years. Things have been rough since then … even Dick’s last two, three years were rough.”

Dick Tressel resigned as athletic director and football coach after the 2000 season and took a job with his brother Jim, then the new coach at Ohio State. Dick is back in Minnesota now, getting ready to put in a second season as the offensive coordinator for Bob Pagel at Carleton.

“One thing you see right away with Hamline is the lack of stability we’ve had since Dick left,” Rogosheske said. “Donovan Larson was here for four years, then Paul Miller for two, then Jim Good for four years, and then John Pate for two years. You can’t make it from where we are to the first division when you’re changing coaches all the time.”

Rogosheske experienced Hamline’s chaotic change from within. He went from playing to being an assistant coach for Tressel from 1998 through 2000. He spent one season at Wartburg and came back to work for Larson at Hamline.

Larson resigned from his alma mater at the end of the 2004 season in mid-November. Three weeks later, he died of a heart attack.

Dick Tressel lined up Rogosheske to be a graduate assistant at Ohio State. He hung with that for three years before going to Bucknell as the offensive line coach in 2010.

Bucknell?

“Darrell Hazell was the assistant head coach at Ohio State,” Rogosheske said. “He had worked with Joe Susan at Rutgers. Joe was named as the head coach at Bucknell for 2010. Darrell put in a good word for me.”

Connections. That’s how it works in the assistant coaching business.

Rogosheske is out of that after 15 years. He’s now the boss. The task is monumental.

Macalester gave up on its ability to compete in the MIAC in 2001 — the same year that Hamline’s coaching carousel started. The Fighting Scots have stabilized football through a dozen years of playing independent schedules against smaller, lesser programs.

The Snelling Avenue rivals have continued playing the Paint Bucket Trophy game. Macalester has won the last two handily, 17-0 and 45-21.

As the Pipers have descended, the MIAC has gotten deeper in strong teams. Prima facie evidence for that was St. John’s finishing sixth among nine teams last season.

Rogosheske was asked if he has any fear that Hamline, without a turnaround to some degree, might go the route of Macalester and bail on MIAC football.

“I haven’t heard one word of conversation like that,” Rogosheske said. “We had an alumni golf tournament recently. Dick Tressel was there. And most of the 100 people there had played on successful teams for him, and now they are in their 30s, early 40s, and successful … in business, in education, men at the top of their professions.

“That’s the vision we are giving to our team. You focus on building, getting to the first division of a very tough league. Once you’re there, anything can happen.”

Even against St. Thomas, the risen giant?

“St. Thomas isn’t competing against the first division of our league,” Rogosheske said. “It’s competing against Mount Union and [Wisconsin] Whitewater, against the national powers.”

 

Patrick Reusse can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on AM-1500. preusse@startribune.com

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