College football's all-time wins leader dead at 91


Published 12:17 PM EDT Oct 7, 2018

College football's all-time wins leader dead at 91

The college football world has lost a coaching icon.

Legendary Saint John's University (Minnesota) football coach John Gagliardi, who gained national notoriety for an unconventional coaching style that didn't include tackling in practice or require players to participate in strength and conditioning workouts, passed away Sunday at 91.

Gagliardi, college football's all-time winningest coach with 489 victories, won four national titles at Division III Saint John's (1963, 1965, 1976 and 2003) in his 60-year tenure. The Johnnies won 27 conference titles and made the postseason 24 times. 

"I offer my deepest condolences to John's wife, Peggy, his family and friends and the thousands of Saint John's alumni who played for him," said SJU President Michael Hemesath in a school statement. "John Gagliardi was not only an extraordinary coach, he was also an educator of young men and builder of character. John inspired deep and enduring loyalty and passion among his players across the decades because he taught them lessons through the medium of football that served them well in their personal and professional lives long after graduating from Saint John's University.

"His is a legacy any educator would be extremely proud of."

More: Why John Gagliardi was so important

Gagliardi was the first active coach to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006, and retired in 2012. During his time at SJU, he also coached track and field and hockey, as well as serving as the athletic director from 1976-94. Gagliardi produced 113 All-Americans, as well as 22 Academic All-Americans. 

Since 1993, the Gagliardi Trophy has been awarded to the best Division III player in the nation. 

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