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Gagliardi Becomes Winningest Coach – On ‘This Date In Central Minnesota History’

Stearns History Museum

COLLEGEVILLE – November 8th, 2003 – John Gagliardi became the winningest coach in college football

John Gagliardi began coaching collegiate football at Carroll College in Montana. In 1953, after 4 seasons at Carroll, he became the head coach at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, where he has remained ever since. Gagliardi, who turned 85 on November 1st, has had a very success head-coaching career covering more than six decades.

Stearns History Museum

His winning record hit a huge milestone on this day in 2003, when Gagliardi marked his 409th victory to become the winningest coach in college football. The previous record of 408 wins was held since 1985 by Eddie Robinson, who coached at Louisiana’s Grambling State University. Gagliardi was in the national news again just last week with Penn State coach Joe Paterno got his 409th victory.

Gagliardi was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006, the first active head coach to be inducted. Today there are just three active coaches in the College Football Hall of Fame: Gagliardi, Paterno, and Chris Ault of Nevada. With 63 years experience, Gagliardi also has the longest head-coaching career, surpassing the previous 57-year record held by Amon Alonzo of the University of Chicago and University of the Pacific.

Gagliardi in 1955 (Stearns History Museum)

Besides the title of Winningest Coach, Gagliardi also has 4 national titles to his credit: NAIA Championships in 1963 and 1965, and NCAA Division III Championships in 1976 and 2003. With SJU’s win against St. Olaf last Saturday, Gagliardi now has 483 victories under his belt.

Thanks to Sarah Warmka and the Stearns History Museum for their help with our series, “This Date In Central Minnesota History” on WJON.

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