ST. PAUL, Minn., Nov. 1 - John Gagliardi tied Eddie Robinson as college football’s career victory leader Saturday, guiding Division III St. John’s to a 15-12 victory over St. Thomas.
InsertArt(2058517)Gagliardi, celebrating his 77th birthday, is 408-114-11 in 55 years as a college coach, the last 51 at St. John’s. He can break the record next week in St. John’s home game against Bethel.
“I have great respect for Eddie Robinson and always have,” Gagliardi said. “To be mentioned on the same list as guys like him and Joe Paterno, I think, ‘This can’t be right.”’
Robinson was 408-165-15 at Grambling.
Gagliardi, who has won three national championships, coached at Carroll College in Montana before coming to St. John’s in 1953.
“I haven’t thought much about the record,” Gagliardi said. “I was too busy thinking about this game.”
St. John’s (8-0) won the defensive struggle on a 35-yard-field goal by Brandon Keller with 8 seconds left.
“To be able to say I played for John and to be able to hit a kick like that to give him the win is awesome,” Keller said. “It’s an honor to play for a coach like him.”
St. John’s players and fans gathered on the field to celebrate with Gagliardi. Players unfurled a long banner that read: “Congratulations on your record-tying 408th victory.”
“The record was never something I worried about,” he said. “I just worry about each game. I wouldn’t have gotten to the record without each game along the way.”
Gagliardi has no intention of retiring anytime soon.
“I get asked that question all the time,” he said. “And I’ve finally got a good answer. I want my tombstone to read: ‘I’d rather be coaching.”’
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