/playoffs/1999/dynasty-of-disappointment

Dynasty of disappointment?

More news about: Rowan
KC Keeler
Coach K.C. Keeler's season  ended with a loss in Salem five times in the '90s.
Photo by Pat Coleman, D3football.com

By Keith McMillan
D3football.com

SALEM, Va. – Consistent and disappointing might be the two best adjectives to sum up an incredible decade for the team formerly known as Glassboro State.

With a 24-17 overtime win against Mount Union on Dec. 11, the Rowan Profs accomplished what few teams in Division III history had by earning a fifth trip to the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl. With a 42-13 loss to Pacific Lutheran one week later, the Profs accomplished what no team has: a fifth Stagg Bowl loss.

Just a few touchdowns from earning the "team of the decade" distinction; instead Rowan is scarred by a "Buffalo Bills of Division III" moniker.

Like the Bills, it has become easy to associate the Profs with losing the big game. But, for a second, stop and recognize what they've accomplished.

The Profs have become a model of consistency throughout the 1990s. Along with their rivals from Alliance, Ohio, they've become the standard by which Division III football is judged.

Consider that the Profs have made the playoffs in all but two seasons in the 1990s (1990 and 1994). When they've been, they've won, capturing the East Region championship a mind-boggling seven times. That's consistency.

But the consistency that makes the Profs a tremendous football team bred disappointment in the wake of Saturday's loss. It's difficult to reach the game's apex five times, only to fall from grace on each occasion. So disappointing, that despite numerous accomplishments, it was tough for head coach K.C. Keeler to say after the game that the entire 1999 season was not a disappointment.

"Yes and no," Keeler said Saturday in the tone of a man taking full responsibility for his team's shortcomings. "We're smart enough to recognize the great accomplishments, a trip to the Stagg Bowl, East Region championship, Lambert Cup, ECAC team of the year, beating Mount Union at their place. All are great accomplishments for a great team, but you know, obviously, we're kind of funny. We put it right out there. We want to be national champions. If you don't do that, then obviously there's going to be some disappointment."

In their five trips to Salem, the Profs have been consistently disappointed. No matter how well their season went or how impressive their runs through the playoffs have been, the Profs have been consistently outplayed in the final game by so-called teams on a mission.

Their closest contest was the first one, a 34-24 loss to the Purple Raiders. The other final scores have not been pretty: 36-7 against UW-La Crosse in 1995, 56-24 against Mount Union in 1996 and 44-24 against the Purple Raiders in 1997.

Saturday was more of the same. The Profs, who had rushed for 462 yards against perennial playoff team Buffalo State in October, totaled minus-63 on the ground against Pacific Lutheran. The Profs defense that dominated all season, causing as many as eight turnovers in a playoff game, was unable to force a single turnover against the Lutes and was shredded for 42 points.

Final scores in Stagg Bowls have not indicated their competitiveness. They led Mount Union 24-21 at the half in 1996 and 24-16 late in the third period in 1998. Rowan and PLU traded touchdowns early on Saturday before the Lutes ran off 28 unanswered points.

Similarly, the Rowan program is not defined simply by what they've done in Stagg Bowls. But entering Saturday's season finale, Keeler and his troops knew the pressure that expectations placed squarely upon their shoulders.

"Yeah, I think I recognized that," said Keeler. "I think we were really loose this week, looser than we've ever been before. I told the kids I'm not going to say a word about the national championship until the national championship game is over. I told them that Saturday (after beating Mt. Union). I told them I'm not going to talk championship game anymore. I said if we're prepared properly, we're excited to play, just go out and play the game. Don't worry about that it's for the national championship. Just go out and play."

In the wake of Saturday's disaster, Keeler had little explanation.

"I thought we were loose. A couple (of) plays can change your whole she-bang, and boy the fumble early, and them getting another seven (by) making a couple of plays ... that really put us in a hole."

In the span of a few good plays on PLU's part, did the Profs go from team to remember to team to forget?

"We did not go from a great team and great coaches and beating Mount Union to a bad team today," said Keeler postgame. "You have to give credit to what Pacific Lutheran did today."

But the loss still stung.

"I don't know if there's a whole lot of good we can take from this," Keeler added. "Usually there's always something. But, a couple guys I grabbed on the sideline during the end of this thing and I said, "you know, no one in this world is hurting more than me, but it's how you handle your adversities … And I think possibly some of the young guys learned a little bit about that from how I was handling it. The whole thing is I have to be the rock, I have to be the guy, the go-to guy in situations like this."

Keeler said one of the guys he grabbed was true freshman quarterback Mike Warker.

"I grabbed him and said, 'Hey Michael, who in this world is hurting more than me? Nobody. But all I can do is keep on coaching and all you can do is keep on playing.' And so I think some of the young guys learned about trying to take some of those adversities head on."

Keeler and his players also recognize that there is victory in the journey itself, and that there are no guarantees that they'll be back.

"I have been on the field here three times, and all the losses hurt," said all-American linebacker John Gavlick. "But I refuse to hang my head. I have had a great time at Rowan."

"It would have been nice to win one," said running back Justin Wright later.

Keeler, who returns several talented underclassmen, knows it is not a given that the Profs will get back to Division III's title game.

"What we've done is amazing, five times in the 1990s. You can't take it for granted, you really can't. Especially with the senior class graduating, it's going to be a long road to get back."

Keeler also acknowledged that losing this time may have been the most difficult.

"It's tough in that way, because in many ways this was our best shot with this great group of seniors," he noted Saturday evening. "And now where do you go from here? But you know, unless I decide to change jobs, what I do for a living, then we'll just find a way get back here and do this."

Oct. 14: All times Eastern
Final
Salve Regina 45, at Nichols 10
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Mount Ida 14, at Dean 7
Box Score
Final
at Thomas More 59, Waynesburg 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Maine Maritime 34, Coast Guard 16
Video Box Score
Final
at Finlandia 27, Trinity Bible 21
Video Box Score
Final
Hamilton 28, at Bowdoin 7
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Delaware Valley 49, King's 14
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Olivet 47, Albion 26
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Wesleyan 41, Bates 23
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Union 27, at Rochester 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Amherst 40, at Colby 7
Video Box Score
Final
at Western New England 41, Endicott 14
Video Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Brockport 48, Morrisville State 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final - OT
at Plymouth State 16, Framingham State 13
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at RPI 27, Ithaca 14
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Hobart 49, at Hartwick 27
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Ferrum 34, LaGrange 20
Video Box Score
Final
at Carnegie Mellon 42, Geneva 27
Video Box Score
Final
Ohio Wesleyan 16, at Wabash 13
Video Box Score Recap
Final
DePauw 26, at Denison 17
Video Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Trine 42, Kalamazoo 7
Video Box Score
Final
at Washington and Lee 47, Guilford 26
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Husson 49, Castleton 0
Box Score Recap
Final
Gallaudet 35, at Alfred State 19
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Wittenberg 49, Allegheny 15
Video Box Score
Final
Brevard 41, at Methodist 17
Video Box Score
Final
at Lebanon Valley 31, Stevenson 24
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
Buffalo State 24, at St. Lawrence 21
Video Box Score Recap
Final - OT
at Cortland 20, Alfred 17
Box Score Recap Live stats
Final
at Randolph-Macon 52, Emory and Henry 29
Video Box Score
Final
at Wesley 29, Kean 9
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Hampden-Sydney 58, Apprentice 28
Video Box Score
Final
Frostburg State 59, at William Paterson 7
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at N.C. Wesleyan 45, Greensboro 0
Video Box Score
Final
at Westminster (Pa.) 49, Grove City 27
Video Box Score
Final
Washington and Jefferson 49, at Bethany 14
Video Box Score
Final
at Westminster (Mo.) 56, Crown 15
Video Box Score
Final
at Northwestern (Minn.) 29, Iowa Wesleyan 7
Video
Final
at Knox 56, Grinnell 14
Video
Final
at Widener 31, Lycoming 17
Video Box Score
Final
Trinity (Conn.) 23, at Tufts 16
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Mount St. Joseph 66, Earlham 7
Video Box Score
Final - 2OT
Ohio Northern 27, at John Carroll 20
Preview Box Score Recap Photos
Final
Baldwin Wallace 23, at Muskingum 20
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Mount Union 72, Capital 14
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Rose-Hulman 44, at Manchester 13
Video Box Score Recap Recap Photos
Final
at Hanover 31, Bluffton 28
Video Video Box Score
Final
Defiance 45, at Anderson 0
Video Box Score
Final
at Wartburg 42, Loras 11
Video Box Score
Final
Hiram 62, at Kenyon 56
Video Box Score
Final
Springfield 35, at Merchant Marine 13
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Williams 27, at Middlebury 26
Video Box Score
Final
at Westfield State 33, Fitchburg State 21
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Marietta 43, at Wilmington 33
Video Box Score
Final
at Berry 34, Hendrix 10
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Curry 40, at Becker 0
Video Box Score
Final
TCNJ 20, at Rowan 14
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at SUNY-Maritime 51, Anna Maria 15
Video Box Score
Final
Salisbury 28, at Montclair State 10
Video Box Score
Final
at Huntingdon 28, Maryville (Tenn.) 16
Video Box Score
Final
at Austin 33, Millsaps 19
Video Box Score
Final
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 65, Howard Payne 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Washington U. 55, Buena Vista 20
Video Video Box Score Recap
Final
Alma 27, at Aurora 19
Video Box Score
Final
at Rockford 29, Concordia-Chicago 14
Video Box Score
Final
Wisconsin Lutheran 22, at Concordia (Wis.) 19
Video Box Score
Final
at Lakeland 57, Benedictine 21
Video Box Score
Final
at St. Norbert 10, Chicago 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Concordia-Moorhead 45, at Hamline 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
St. Olaf 22, at Augsburg 20
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Bethel 24, at Gustavus Adolphus 3
Video Box Score
Final
St. John's 35, at Carleton 0
Video Box Score
Final
at Eureka 30, Greenville 19
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Centre 27, at Trinity (Texas) 21
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
Dubuque 42, at Nebraska Wesleyan 27
Video Box Score
Final
Central 30, at Coe 19
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
Lake Forest 56, at Cornell 28
Video Box Score
Final
at Carthage 31, Elmhurst 8
Video Box Score
Final
at Illinois Wesleyan 30, Carroll 0
Video Box Score
Final
Millikin 28, at Augustana 27
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Ripon 52, at Beloit 28
Video Box Score
Final
MacMurray 49, at Minnesota-Morris 13
Video
Final
Macalester 21, at Lawrence 18
Video Box Score
Final
at Monmouth 59, Illinois College 14
Video Box Score
Final
at UW-Stevens Point 26, UW-Eau Claire 3
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Case Western Reserve 63, at Thiel 28
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Wooster 38, Oberlin 28
Video Box Score
Final
Texas Lutheran 41, at East Texas Baptist 34
Video Box Score
Final
at UW-Stout 21, UW-River Falls 16
Box Score Recap
Final
UW-Oshkosh 28, at UW-Platteville 14
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Sewanee 34, at Birmingham-Southern 13
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Hope 22, Adrian 3
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Linfield 49, at Lewis and Clark 14
Video Box Score
Cancelled
La Verne at Occidental
Video Live stats Audio
Final
Whitworth 17, at Pacific Lutheran 14
Video Box Score Photos Photos
Final
at Cal Lutheran 42, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 20
Video Box Score
Final
at George Fox 58, Willamette 12
Video Video Box Score
Final
at Pacific 35, Puget Sound 27
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Pomona-Pitzer 45, at Whittier 23
Video Box Score
Final
at Western Connecticut 28, Massachusetts Maritime 21
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at St. Scholastica 56, Martin Luther 21
Video Box Score Recap
Final - 5OT
at St. John Fisher 39, Utica 36
Video Recap Live stats Audio
Final - OT
at Heidelberg 48, Otterbein 45
Video Preview Box Score Recap Audio Tickets
Final
at Shenandoah 38, Bridgewater 20
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
Southwestern 60, at Belhaven 31
Video Video Box Score
Final
Hardin-Simmons 35, at Sul Ross State 10
Box Score
Final
at Louisiana College 52, McMurry 34
Box Score
Final
at Simpson 38, Luther 17
Video Box Score
Final
at Chapman 45, Redlands 26
Video Video Box Score Recap Recap
Oct. 16: All times Eastern
Final
at Wheaton (Ill.) 42, North Central (Ill.) 20
Recap Box Score
Oct. 20: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Gettysburg at Johns Hopkins
Video Video Live stats Live stats
Oct. 14: All times Eastern
Final
at Delaware Valley 49, King's 14
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final - OT
at Cortland 20, Alfred 17
Box Score Recap Live stats
Final
at Wesley 29, Kean 9
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Frostburg State 59, at William Paterson 7
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Wittenberg 49, Allegheny 15
Video Box Score
Final
at Brockport 48, Morrisville State 7
Recap Box Score Video
Final
Washington and Jefferson 49, at Bethany 14
Video Box Score
Final
Ohio Wesleyan 16, at Wabash 13
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Mount Union 72, Capital 14
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Wartburg 42, Loras 11
Video Box Score
Final
at Berry 34, Hendrix 10
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Springfield 35, at Merchant Marine 13
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 65, Howard Payne 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
St. John's 35, at Carleton 0
Video Box Score
Final
at Illinois Wesleyan 30, Carroll 0
Video Box Score
Final
Concordia-Moorhead 45, at Hamline 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Case Western Reserve 63, at Thiel 28
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
UW-Oshkosh 28, at UW-Platteville 14
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Linfield 49, at Lewis and Clark 14
Video Box Score
Final
at George Fox 58, Willamette 12
Video Video Box Score
Final
Hardin-Simmons 35, at Sul Ross State 10
Box Score
Oct. 16: All times Eastern
Final
at Wheaton (Ill.) 42, North Central (Ill.) 20
Box Score Recap
Oct. 20: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Gettysburg at Johns Hopkins
Video Video Live stats Live stats