When you think of the most successful coaches in football around the country today, Bill Belichick, Nick Saban and Chris Petersen immediately come to mind. Included in that same train of though would likely be small college coaches like Larry Kehres (Mount Union) and Lance Leipold (Wisconsin-Whitewater) or even John Gagliardi (St. John’s).
One coach, John McKissick of Summerville (S.C.), reached a milestone of success that none of those other coaches have come close to. McKissick collected his 600th win this past Friday. His career record is an impressive 600-148-13 with 10 state titles in a total of 61 seasons.
To really put things in perspective, take a look at the other high school coaching legends from around the country. Even fellow legends can’t come close to comparing wins. J.T Curtis of John Curtis Christian School (LA) hit the 500 win mark last season, and is still a good 80 wins short of 600. Gagliardi (who we mentioned earlier) has collected 487 wins in 64 years.
Other coaching legends like Amos Alonzo Stagg, who coached 57 seasons, won 314 games and Don Shula won a professional record 328 games.
Let’s take Boise State head coach Chris Petersen, for example. Petersen has won an average of 12 games per season (and 92 percent of his games) since being named the Broncos’ head coach back in 2006. Taking Petersen’s current win total of 80 games into account, it would take him an additional 43 years, continuing to win an average of 12 games per season, to get to McKissick’s 600. That would make Petersen 91 years old by the time he reached the milestone.
McKissick is currently 86 years of age and says that even with all those wins, he continues to focus on one game at a time.
“All I’ve ever thought about since I started coaching is to try and win that first game,” McKissick said. “Then win the next and next and whatever it adds up to, that’s good. I’ve never looked ahead to anything. You have to have a purpose in life. But, sure, I think about retirement, but that’s about it.”
He explains that part of his success is due to bringing coaches (many are former players) on board and giving them the freedom to coach their own way, within the offensive and defensive systems that they have in place.
“I stay with the X’s and O’s. I’m coaching coaches more than players now. I go from group to group and monitor everything that is going on.” he told The State.
In his 61 years of coaching McKissick has had only two losing seasons, 1957 and 2001. With plenty of gas still in the tank, Coach McKissick has already put together an impressive career, and more importantly, touched countless lives in the process.