Bear Sports: Q&A with former football All-Americans

Washington University in St. Louis graduates Jeff Doyle, Matt Gomric, Michael Lauber (#43, above) and Tim Runnalls sat down with Bear Sports for a question-and-answer session to discuss their four years on the Danforth Campus and what it meant to be named All-Americans.

Q: What did it mean to you to be a Washington University student-athlete?

Doyle: I tell people all the time that Washington University is a very special place. It starts with the great people who come to teach, work and learn. The experience is enhanced by the beauty and the rich history of the campus. The school has hosted the Olympics as well as the work of Nobel laureates from Arthur Holly Compton to Douglass North. So, to say that I was a student-athlete with the opportunity to represent such a wonderful institution…simply put, it was a great honor.

Gomric: It was an honor to represent one of the best universities in the country. You fully appreciate the greatness of the university by the number of opportunities you have when you graduate.

Lauber: I valued and appreciated being a Washington University student-athlete. I believe that I had a more well-rounded collegiate experience by being a member of the football team and a full-time student. I loved my four years at Washington U. and being able to take such diverse classes as Innovative Product Marketing and German Comparative Literature — while also playing football on historic Francis Field — was amazing. I also appreciated the support that my professors, Coach Kindbom and the university administration (including Athletic Director John Schael) provided to help me balance the challenges of being a student-athlete.

Runnalls (#98, left): Every time I meet someone new professionally, the question “Where did you go for university?” comes up as a common icebreaker. Even before starting the conversation, I know that when I answer that I attended Washington University and played football, it will be noted and command respect. Washington University athletes, especially football players, learn how to compete at a high level both academically and athletically. By surviving and excelling through this arduous process, we all can be very proud to have called ourselves student-athletes.

Q: What did you learn most from playing for head coach Larry Kindbom?

Doyle (#76, right):
There are so many things I’ve learned from Coach Kindbom. Frankly, many of them didn’t really resonate for me until after I graduated. The first word that always comes to mind when I think of Coach Kindbom is, “priorities.” Coach Kindbom’s priorities, in order, are God, family, academics, football. As a student-athlete on Coach Kindbom’s team, your priorities don’t have to be exactly those, but they should be pretty close. When you know your priorities, the tough decisions become pretty easy. Further, when you make your priorities as clear as Coach Kindbom makes his, the people around you know what to expect and how to react.

Gomric: Coach Kindbom’s love for coaching and his players. This was especially evident my senior year at Rhodes and Coach K’s halftime speech. The university has a gem of a person leading the football program. There is no one coaching today that would better represent Washington University.

Lauber: Coach Kindbom instilled in me a lifelong sense of balance and perspective. As a member of Coach Kindbom’s first Washington University team, I appreciated his consistency in establishing and stressing the importance of prioritizing what is important in one’s life.

Runnalls: One of the top reasons I chose to attend Washington University was to play football for Coach Kindbom. From the first time I met him, it was evident that he was a man of integrity and of high moral convictions. His priorities are known by every player – God, family, academics and football. Throughout my career as a player at Washington University, I never felt that he ever jeopardized these priorities once – and yet we were very successful, which was a valuable life lesson.

Q: Looking back on your career, what is your favorite football memory at Washington University?

Doyle: My favorite game was winning at nationally ranked University of Rochester 7-6 my freshman year. We were 1-2 going into that game, and winning, especially there, really helped to validate us as a team. It had to be the best 7-6 game in the history of football, all the way down to the goal-line stand our defense made to seal the game. We went on to finish 7-3, which at the time was the best record for any WU football team in 17 years and the most wins in 24 years.

Gomric (#30, left):
The coaches and players I got to know over the four years at Washington University. The experiences and memories are something I will never forget.

Lauber: My favorite football memory was our 7-6 road victory at Rochester my sophomore year (1990). Rochester was a nationally ranked team and in the UAA at the time, and we were 1-2 and needed a win. We won the game with a goal-line stand in the fourth quarter, and it was a thrill to be on the field and celebrate with my defensive teammates when we stopped them four times when they had the ball within the 5-yard line. The win established a sense of confidence in our team and galvanized the program that led to the first winning season in 11 years. I still think this game was the turning point of the program and start of the ongoing success that Coach Kindbom has had over the past two-plus decades.

Runnalls: My favorite football memory has to be when our team was selected to participate in the playoffs during my senior year. Our team was 8-2, and although we felt like we had a very good shot of being selected, it was by no means a sure thing. Everyone on the team, including Kyle, my brother, who played safety, was gathered together when it was announced, and I still remember calling my girlfriend — now wife — and parents with the great news right away. Outside of getting married and my children being born, it was the best day of my life as it truly was a family affair. I wish nothing more than for every Bear to experience the thrill of the postseason!

Q: Each of you was named an All-American while playing at Washington U. What does that honor mean to you?

Doyle: As an offensive tackle, being recognized as an All-American means that I had the privilege of playing with some fantastic student-athletes who were able to put up some strong statistics. I had the good fortune of blocking for two different 1,000-yard rushers (Mark Watson and Todd Hannum) and an All-American quarterback (Aaron Keen). I was able to block next to one of the meanest guys ever to wear the red and green, John Keen (TE). John was such a great athlete, he was actually All-UAA on offense and defense our junior year. I guess, when I think about it in those terms, I’m a little embarrassed to be singled out to receive such an honor, but I am proud to have represented the school well.

Gomric: Being named an All-American is a great honor, and it causes me to reflect on the great coaches and teammates I had during my years at Washington University. This honor would not be bestowed upon me without having great coaches and teammates. I want to tell my coaches and teammates: ‘Thanks for the great memories.’

Lauber: I feel fortunate to have been named an All-American while playing for Coach Kindbom at Washington University. I appreciate the fact I was able to represent Washington University as a student-athlete and to be recognized for my accomplishments on the football team. I hope that I have contributed positively to the lasting legacy of Washington University’s football program. It is an honor to be a member of the group of players at Washington University who have been named an All-American, including teammates like Jeff Doyle and Matt Gomric.

Runnalls: I am extremely proud to be one of Washington University’s All-Americans. Although I received this award, there is no way this would have been possible without the tremendous efforts by my teammates, especially those of the D-Line: Luke McIntosh, Luke Schumacher and James Molnar. On both sides of the ball, the effort was outstanding. Quite importantly, everyone grew throughout the year. We truly got stronger and better with every game we played, which I think is the hallmark of a great team.