To say the least, there’s been a lot of attention on the Penn State football program. Joe Pa, one of the greatest coaches in any sport, was forced out in disgrace as reports became public of wide spread child abuse in the program.
But I’m not here to talk about Joe today. I wanna mention a guy with more wins and less attention. His name is John Gagliardi. And he coaches in Minnesota at St. John’s University located in Collegeville. He’s a legend:
At the age of 22, with six years of high school coaching, Gagliardi was hired at Carroll College in Helena, Montana. In four seasons as head coach at Carroll, Gagliardi compiled a 24–6–1 record, winning three Montana Collegiate Conference championships. After the 1952 season, Gagliardi left Carroll for the Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota
Did’ja get that? At the ripe old age of 22, John had 6 years of high school coaching under his belt.
John Gagliardi began coaching football in 1943 at the age of 16 when his high school coach was called into service during World War II. He was a player-coach his senior year of high school and continued to coach high school football while obtaining his college degree at Colorado College.
At 16 he is a player/coach in high school and continues to coach while attending college. This guy is a stud.
He is currently the head football coach at Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, a position he has held since 1953. From 1949 to 1952, he was the head football coach at Carroll College in Helena, Montana. With a career record of 483–133–11, Gagliardi has the most wins of any coach in college football history. His Saint John’s Johnnies teams have won four national titles: the NAIA National Football Championship in 1963 and 1965, and the NCAA Division III National Football Championship in 1976 and 2003. Gagliardi was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006. With Chris Ault, he is one of two active coaches in the Hall of Fame.
John is the winningest coach in college history. Joe Pa sits at 409; 74 behind John. Seventy ‘effin four.
And he’s comin’ back for more:
St. John’s coach John Gagliardi — college football’s winningest coach — has decided to return for his 60th season directing the Johnnies. St. John’s finished 6-4 thanks to a season-ending four-game winning streak that helped convince Gagliardi to return.
“For awhile there, I thought maybe I had lost it,” Gagliardi told Frank Rajkowski of the St. Cloud Times. “But we came back and started playing good football. That helped a lot.”
John is 85 years old. He’s been coaching football for damn near 70 years. When asked what he’d do if he gave up the game?
“I don’t know anything else,” said Gagliardi, 85. “What else should I be doing? Am I going to take a trip to Italy or go climbing the Himalayas? I don’t want to do any of those things. There are days I don’t even like going into St. Cloud.”
Well, who does like going to St. Cloud? Seriously though, what a career! Now in an era of specialization and hierarchy, no one could start so early. An amazing career!