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Record Settersby: John Gallup
Editor and Publisher
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Itís natural in all sports to measure success by counting the number of wins a team or a coach achieves, and football is no different. With the possible exception of championship rings, total wins is recognized as the yardstick we use to rate coaches and judge their careers.
In this issue of AFM, we celebrate the career of not only one of footballís greatest winners, but one of its greatest gentlemen as well Ė proving that the two are not mutually exclusive. Last month, John Gagliardi retired as head coach of St. Johnís University, not only as the winningest coach in NCAA Division III history, but all of college football. His 489 wins in 64 seasons as a head coach (60 at St. Johnís), set a benchmark that will not be easily surpassed. Itís also difficult to imagine any coach having a more positive impact on more student athletes than Gagliardi, who has coached, mentored and befriended thousands and thousands of players since his head coaching career began in 1949. Our salute to John Gagliardi (please donít call him coach) begins on page 28.
Gagliardi and the legendary Eddie Robinson, who coached I-AA Grambling to 408 wins in his 55 years leading the Tigers, are the only two coaches in college history with 400 or more wins. Next in line is Bobby Bowden, the all-time FBS leader with 377 victories. In Division II, the honor goes to Carson-Newman Collegeís Ken Sparks, with 308 wins and counting. He is now the only active coach among the all-time divisional leaders. Sparks was diagnosed with cancer prior to last season but is progressing and is as determined as ever to add to his win total in 2013. Our best wishes go to him for a full recovery so he can continue his illustrious career.
On our radar as potentially the next great record setter is Mount Unionís Larry Kehres, who leads all active coaches with 332 wins. That includes an astounding 11 NCAA Division III Championships. Whatís even more impressive is that he has accumulated this gaudy total in only 27 seasons, suffering just 24 losses in that span. If he continues his incredible .929 winning percentage, he will pass Gagliardi in another 12 years or so.
As impressive as these collegiate careers have been, the awards for the most wins at any level go to two high school coaches who are the only members of the 500-win club. J.T Curtis of John Curtis Christian High School (LA) has led the Patriots to 520 wins and 25 state championships in his 44-year career, with no sign of slowing down. But the all-time winningest football coach title goes to John McKissick, still going strong at 86 after 61 years as coach at Summerville High School (SC). This past season, he became the only coach to ever reach the 600-win plateau, finishing with 601. Seven other high school coaches have also won 400 or more games.
Professionally, Don Shula leads all NFL coaches with 347 victories. Donít expect that to be topped any time soon, as the leading active coach is Bill Belichick, who will finish this season with just over 200 wins.
Obviously, these record-setting coaches have all enjoyed great longevity in their careers. But we also believe that itís their dedication, love of the game and talent as motivators of young men that has allowed them to achieve such monumental records. If youíre in coaching for the long haul, we suggest you learn more about these men and their methods, starting with John Gagliardi.
In case youíre interested, the record for most wins by any major sports coach or manager is 3,731 held by Major League Baseballís Cornelius McGillicuddy, better known as Connie Mack. We think that one is safe for now.
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