Tim Rosenkranz '90.
This story was originally published in the Autumn 2008 edition of Saint Mary's magazine.
Frank Capra couldn’t have come up with a better feel-good story than the 1988 Gaels football season. It had it all — a close-knit group of players and coaches, a packed stadium and a last-minute, come-from-behind touchdown that not only clinched a victory over Santa Clara but also capped the Gaels’ first undefeated and untied football season ever.
The star in the drama was Tim Rosenkranz ’90, a quarterback who wasn’t recruited by other colleges because of his relatively small 5-foot-10, 175-pound size. In the 1988 Little Big Game, Rosenkranz threw that game-winning pass to tight end Jon Braff ’92 with 37 seconds left, touching off pandemonium in the stands and leading players to carry head coach Craig Rundle off the field.
“It was amazing. It was dramatic. It was climatic,” Rosenkranz recalls. “It was everything you wanted for the culmination of the perfect season.”
Rosenkranz, a business and economics major, went into business with his father at Los Angeles Galvanizing, where he is now in charge of production at the successful company. (His brothers Jamie ’94 and Lance also work at the company.) Rosenkranz, who also owns A&B Sand Blast, lives in Huntington Beach with his wife, Kelly. He has four children; a daughter, Ashley, who began at Boston University this fall, and three sons, Cade, 7, Riley, 4, and Quinn, 2.
The former quarterback credits the College’s Seminar program and small class sizes with helping him get the most out of Saint Mary’s academically.
“Seminar forces you to read and be in a small environment and talk,” he says. “I don’t think I was great student, but it forced me to do more than my nature wanted to do.”
Rosenkranz and his 1988 teammates also forced themselves to achieve the most they could on the gridiron. After the team went 5–5 in his freshman year and 8–3 in his sophomore year, the ’88 team’s goal was to win every game, something that had never happened in the history of football at the College, which began in 1892.
“It wasn’t about becoming the only undefeated team in the history of Saint Mary’s,” he says. “It was about us. We had a lot of high-quality football players led by some pretty special coaches.”
The team’s achievements were heralded in Sports Illustrated, which covered the victory over the Broncos as well as recapping SMC’s storied football history that included victories over Fordham University in the 1930s and the 1940s teams led by Squirmin’ Herman Wedemeyer ’49.
Rundle, who is now head football coach at Albion College in Michigan, gives a lot of the credit for the Gaels’ success in the late 1980s to Rosenkranz.
“He was a real intense competitor. He was a great leader,” Rundle says. “The way he competed, he really raised the level of play of the guys around him.”
Rosenkranz was disappointed when the College dropped football in 2004, saying that if the program had been more competitive it could have recruited students who instead went to other WCC schools that had already dropped football, including Santa Clara.
“It was a great experience for us, and you hate to think there are other kids who aren’t going to have that opportunity,” he says.
However, he says he understands the reasons behind Saint Mary’s decision to discontinue football.
Rosenkranz has maintained his connections to the College. He’s a member of the President’s Club and participates in Southern California events. He was inducted into the SMC Hall of Fame individually in 2000 and as part of the 1988 team in 2008.
“It’s a great place. That’s why I chose it,” he says.
He also remains in touch with his teammates and Rundle, even traveling to Michigan to see Rundle’s son Troy play football at Albion College.
Rundle, who says he hates to play favorites among his former players, calls Rosenkranz “a special young man.”
“I think he’s been a success in life as much as he was in football,” Rundle says. “I guess I’m more proud of him in terms of what he’s done with his life. He’s been active with the College and giving back to the school. He’s been a great father. He’s a great ambassador for what Saint Mary’s can do for a young man.”