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ISSUE 117 VOL 8 PUBLISHED 11/14/2003

Gagliardi breaks record

By Ken Foote
Sports Editor

Friday, November 14, 2003

St. John’s did much more than wrap up the MIAC title Saturday with a 29-26 come-from-behind win over Bethel. The win was number 409 for coach John Gagliardi, who has been at the helm of the Johnnies football team for the last 51 seasons, making him the winningest coach in NCAA history. Gagliardi passed the legendary Eddie Robinson, who won 408 games for Division I-AA Grambling State before retiring in 1997.

The 77-year-old Gagliardi handled his latest accomplishment with the utmost of modesty as he thanked the thousands of men who played for him over the years and said he was looking forward to coaching St. John’s in the NCAA Division III playoffs for the sixth straight year.

Players say he never mentioned the number 409 unless he was "talking about cleaning supplies."

Despite his efforts to downplay his accomplishment, there was clearly something special in the air as the Johnnies took the field in Collegeville, Minn. An estimated 13,107 fans braved the cold and packed the stadium to witness a piece of history.

Gagliardi owes his success not only to his keen grasp of football strategy and tactics but also to his unique coaching philosophy, which features his legendary "list of no’s."

The list includes a mandate for no long practices (all practices are kept to less than an hour and a half), no tackling in practice (players wear shorts or sweat pants), and no calling him "Coach." His players are to call him John.

Gagliardi shows no signs of slowing down, saying, "I have never thought about retirement."

Like a fine wine, he keeps getting better with age. He has not lost his winning ways despite coaching for over half a century.

Gagliardi will undoubtedly win a few more games before his legendary career comes to a close.

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