117 years: the sensational staff continuity at St. John's (Minn.)
We ran across a note earlier this week on ESPN's Big Ten blog noting that of the 12 teams in the league, only Minnesota and Northwestern have not endured a coaching change in the past two off-seasons. We haven't done the math, but the numbers would likely be similar across the entire Football Bowl Subdivision.
With that in mind, take a look at the eye-popping continuity at another school in the Big Ten's footprint: Division III St. John's University in Collegeville, Minn.
You probably recognize St. John's as the home of college football's all-time wins leader, John Gagliardi. Gagliardi, or John, as he preferred his players to call him, took the St. John's job in 1953 and just retired after the conclusion of the 2012 season. In 63 years as a head coach (his first four years were spent at Carroll College in Montana), Gagliardi won 489 games, 30 conference championships and four national championships. When a head coach has been at a school long enough to coach a player's father and grandfather (and wins a heck of a lot of games along the way), it's a good starting point to build a cohesive and long-standing coaching staff.
Next, take a look at the current staff:
Gary Fasching: head coach. Named Gagilardi's replacement on Dec. 28, he spent 17 seasons as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. Fasching graduated from St. John's in 1981.
Jerry Haugen: defensive coordinator. Haugen just completed his 38th season as the defensive coordinator at St. John's. He has also won 665 games as the school's baseball coach since 1990 and served a stint as St. John's head hockey coach. Haugen graduated from St. John's in 1976.
Kurt Ramler: associate head coach/offensive coordinator. Ramler is in just his first season as the Johnnies' offensive coordinator, though he did coach at the school in 2002. He was the head coach at Carleton (Minn.) for six seasons, earning the 2008 Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year honors. Ramler is a 1997 St. John's graduate.
Jim Gagliardi: wide receivers coach/coordinator of football operations. The son of John, Jim Gagliardi played at St. John's from 1985-88 and has been on the coaching staff for 22 years.
Brandon Novak: co-defensive coordinator. A 2001 St. John's graduate, Novak was a two-time All-American at linebacker and was also a national champion wrestler. He has been on the football staff for 13 years, and spent the past nine years as St. John's head wrestling coach.
Damien Dumonceaux: defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator. Named D3football.com's Defensive Player of the Year in 2005, Dumonceaux was the Johnnies' starting nose tackle from 2003-05 and is now in his eighth year on the coaching staff.
Jim Mader: offensive line coach. The only non-alum on the staff, Mader has spent a decade on the St. John's coaching staff after coaching for 23 years at Albany (Minn.) High School.
Charlie Welsh: running backs coach/video coordinator. Welsh played quarterback and wide receiver at St. John's from 2003-07, helping the Johnnies win the 2003 national title, and has been on the coaching staff for five years.
Michael Orts: offensive assistant. A wide receiver and quarterback at St. John's from 2006-09, Orts is in his second season on the St. John's coaching staff.
Andrew Pierskalla: defensive assistant. A defensive lineman at St. John's from 2005-09, Pierskalla is also in his second season of coaching at St. John's.
Add it all together and you'll see that the 10 St. John's coaches (nine of whom are alums) have 117 years of combined coaching experience at St. John's, with half the staff depositing a decade or more at the school.
Last month we highlighted the staff continuity the Wofford staff has enjoyed, but St. John's blows the Terriers out of the water. If there's another staff across college football that can approach St. John's, we'd love to hear about it.
Every staff in the country should aspire to aspire to build even 10 percent of the cohesiveness and sense of family that John Gagliardi's program has fostered.
Thanks to coach R.C. Helton at Trevor Browne High School in Phoenix for tipping us off to this amazing story.