After 60 seasons of roaming the sidelines at St. John's (D-III - MN), John Gagliardi has decided to hang it up.
“Seventy years (60 at SJU) is a long time to be doing the same job. Luckily, I've always been blessed with great players, friends, family and support to make it this far. Nobody ever said that getting older was easy. I just can't do the job at the level I used to anymore.” Gagliardi said in a statement on the Johnnies athletics website.
Gagliardi began his coaching career 70 years ago at Trinidad high school (CO), at the age of 16, before moving on to Carroll College (MT) and eventually St. John's. Gagliardi went on to compile a record of 489-138-11 at the college level, making him the winningest coach in college football history. Since 1953, Gagliardi has been firmly entrenched in the St. John's University community, which speaks to his character as a person just as much as it does his coaching career.
Along with his impressive record, Gagliardi gained recognition for his unconventional practice methods. Those methods included not tackling all week, no yelling or blocking sleds, and no whistles. It was a combination of his methodology and success that gave him the distinct honor of being the only active coach to ever be enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame back in 2006.
With their most recent national title game appearance coming back in 2003, the Johnnies program had come on some hard times over the past few seasons. Their nine losses over the past two years was the most for the program dating back to the late 60's.
Gagliardi molded St. John's into one of the most consistent winners in small college football. He led the Johnnies to four national championships (1963, 1965, 1976, 2003), six national semifinal appearances (1989, 1991, 1993, 1994, 2001, 2002) and collected an impressive 30 conference titles and with appearances in 58 post season games with a record of 39-19.
It goes without saying that you didn't want to see your name matched up with the Johnnies come playoff time.
The last paragraph on the St. John's University announcement of his retirement sums up coach Gagliardi perfectly.
"Gagliardi's success is attributable to more than just football strategy and tactics. He created an environment of fun and high expectations, which concentrated on methods and practices that truly focused on winning football games."
There's no doubt that Gagliardi leaves behind a legacy that many coaches will hope to emulate, and he has touched more lives through football alone than any of us can even begin to imagine, not to mention the entire St. John's University community. When the greatest coaches in the history of college football are being argued, it will be impossible to not mention Gagliardi and his contributions to the game.