Like Fine Wine
St. John's coach John Gagliardi is 81 and at 9-0 doesn't look to be slowing down
Oct. 31, 2007
By Pat Coleman
Special To CSTV.com from D3football.com
Pat runs D3hoops.com and D3football.com and offers regular analysis on CSTV.com. E-mail here!
Gagliardi, in his 59th year as a college head coach and 55th year at this college northwest of
He's the winningest coach in college football history, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and the Division III football top student-athlete of the year award is named after him. But he's not ready to rest on his laurels.
"I hate to retire because then all you have to think about is all the damn memories, and then you start dredging them all up and you've got nothing to look for in the future," he said after Saturday's 51-34 win against archrival St. Thomas in front of an announced crowd of 12,123.
"Well, they always get up for it," Gagliardi says of the archrival that
The school is home to perhaps the best game-day atmosphere in Division III football, with fans ringing the sideline five or six people deep and sitting on the natural bowl hillside as well as in the 7,500 seats. The Johnnies have averaged 9,923 fans at their five home games this season after leading Division III in average attendance six of the previous 11 seasons.
Gagliardi has won four national championships at
"All of the national championship teams are special," says Gagliardi, "because other than Kehres, who is going to win a national championship? It's nuts. He's the only guy dead or alive to do what he's done. That's better than John Wooden."
After 583 games, it would seem reasonable that every scenario has come and gone. But a new situation presented itself to the Johnnies in the fourth quarter. After
"Every time I think I've seen everything, I know that I haven't," Gagliardi said. His receiver signaled for a fair catch, which isn't permitted on a free kick.
"I don't know if I'm that analytic," he said. "Once we get past a game, we start looking at the next one because it's gone and done."
He continued later: "I don't think it's any different than you guys. You write a column, you write something really great and after two or three days or two weeks I bet you don't even remember what the hell you wrote because you're so busy with the next one. That's exactly what happens here. You might've had a masterpiece, but hell, a lot of good it does you when you have to do it again, every time."
But with all of the wins, there's one that can't be put aside: "The first one, because coaching out at
Gagliardi seems like the type who will coach until he dies. It's only what he's been doing for 65 of his 81 years.
"Sometimes I wonder, `why the hell am I still doing this?' he says. "But I'm not bored, see, that's the thing, I'm afraid of being bored because I don't have any hobbies. This has been my hobby.
"Who would come and talk to me if I were retired?"