September 10, 2012
By Mike Killeen
On Sept. 12, 1953, Jacqueline Bouvier married then-Sen. John F. Kennedy in Newport, R.I.
Another "marriage" occurred that day, although one of a totally different nature and with a little less fanfare. Sixty years and 600 games later, it's still going strong.
John Gagliardi began his coaching career at Saint John's University on Sept. 12, 1953, suffering a 7-0 loss to St. Cloud State University (then known as St. Cloud State Teachers College) in Collegeville.
That game began Gagliardi's 60-year career with the Johnnies - one which will continue against the University of St. Thomas at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, at Clemens Stadium. The contest marks Gaglairdi's 600th game as coach of Saint John's.
Gagliardi came to SJU after coaching Carroll College in Helena, Mont., to three conference titles in his first four seasons (1949-52) as a college coach.
His success caught the attention of SJU, which needed a coach to succeed the legendary Johnny "Blood" McNally, a charter member of the Professional Football Hall of Fame. Upon leaving SJU, McNally offered this gloomy prediction: "Nobody could ever win at Saint John's."
But Gagliardi proved McNally wrong, rebounding from the non-conference loss to St. Cloud State to winning the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title with a 5-1 record - the first of 27 league titles he has claimed at SJU. Gagliardi has also led the Johnnies to four national titles.
The winningest coach all-time in college football, Gagliardi currently has a 486-133-11 (.779) collegiate career record and a 462-127-10 (.779) record at SJU.
Gagliardi's 64 years of collegiate coaching is the most in college football, surpassing the old record of 57 years held by former University of Chicago and University of the Pacific coach Amos Alonzo Stagg (1890-1946).