Winningest Coach in College Football History John Gagliardi Dies at 91

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistOctober 7, 2018

St. John's University head football coach John Gagliardi ends his news conference after announcing his retirement in his 60th season as coach Monday, Nov. 19, 2012 in Collegeville, Minn. Gagliardi, 86, is the winningest coach in college football. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Jim Mone/Associated Press

John Gagliardi, who won more games than any head coach in college football history, died Sunday at the age of 91.

Gagliardi's daughter, Gina Gagliardi Benson, announced his death in a message on Facebook:

"It is with great sadness that the Gagliardi family announces the death of John Gagliardi.

"John was a winner in so many ways, but mostly in his ability to connect with others. His appreciation of others ran so deep that it was the core of who John was.

"Without a doubt, John's greatest pride was always his wife Peggy. He was a great role model of what true love is.

"John also felt great pride in his own children, grandchildren and his 3000 football players. John honestly believed every one of his players were wonderful and he spoke often about how proud he was of them all. Not just how well they played football, but the things that mattered most to John: being hard working, successful, good men. When asked if he ever had a player he didn't like, he'd say, 'No, for some reason St John's only draws great guys. They were great kids, all of them. From great families. I was lucky to be around them every day. They made me look good.' And when he talked about their successes he'd say, 'I don't think there's a single one who hasn't gone on to do great things in whatever field they chose.'"

Gagliardi's college coaching career began in 1949 at Carroll College in Montana. He went 24-6-1 over four seasons with the program.

After leaving Carroll to take the head coaching position at Saint John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota, Gagliardi spent 60 years at the school from 1953 to 2012. The Colorado native led the Johnnies to 27 conference championships, two NAIA titles and two Division III titles, compiling a record of 465-132-10.

During Gagliardi's 64-year coaching career, he won an NCAA-record 489 games.

In addition to his work on the football field, Gagliardi also coached the basketball and baseball teams at Carroll and the Saint John's track and hockey squads.

He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006.

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