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John Gagliardi


John Peter Gagliardi

Inducted 2006

Date of Birth



Trinidad, CO


Saint John's University (1953-2012)

Carroll College (1949-1952)


The career of John Gagliardi began as a teenager when his coach at Trinidad, Colorado Catholic High School was drafted into World War II. In six years of high school coaching he won four conference titles. He graduated from Colorado College in 1949 and took the head-coaching job at Carroll (MT) College. Before he took the job, the school was thinking about dropping football because of losing seasons and dropping interest. There he won three conference titles and also coached basketball and baseball. His 24-6-1 record in four years caught the attention of Saint John’s University (MN) as it needed a coach to succeeded Johnny ”Blood” McNally, a charter member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Upon taking the job, McNally warned, “Nobody could win at Saint John’s.” In his first year with the Johnnies, he won the 1953 conference title and added a league crown in the spring with the track team. In the winter, Gagliardi coached hockey for five seasons compiling the best coaching record in school history. In 1962, John had his first undefeated team. The undefeated streak continued through the next season as he won his first NAIA Championship, a feat he repeated with another undefeated squad in 1965. Two more undefeated title teams followed in 1976 and in 2003. On November 8, 2003, Gagliardi surpassed Eddie Robinson on the all-time win list with his 409th victory. In 1993, the Gagliardi Trophy was introduced as the Division III version of the Heisman Trophy. His insights on strategy, success and motivation have been the subject of four books. But his success is attributable to more than strategy and tactics. He is an astute judge of talent and creates an environment of fun and high expectations. His approach is one of concentration and flawless execution that is accomplished through a practice regimen that emphasizes fundamentals and repetition. Perhaps the most unique aspect of his coaching philosophy is his series of “Winning With No's.” In addition to not being referred to as coach, Gagliardi does not use a whistle, has no blocking sleds, does not require the players to lift weights, does not permit tackling in practice and keeps those practices to an a hour and a half or less.


Wins 489

Losses 138

Ties 11

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