Recently retired St. John’s University football coach John Gagliardi served up plenty of laughs as the headliner for Tuesday’s M.V.P. (Men.Value.Purpose) event at Trinity Lutheran Church in Stillwater. The winningest coach in college football history — with a 489-138-11 record — offered more punch lines than punch blocks during the light-hearted discussion.
He solicited retirement advice from former Ponies coach George Thole and discussed many of the Stillwater players and co-eds who’ve attended the Collegeville school over the years, including President Obama’s current Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.
Former Johnnies standout and M.V.P. organizer Todd Fultz introduced his former coach, saying Gagliardi “is a good football coach, but a great life coach.”
Jim Gagliardi, who played for his father and coached with him on the last of St. John’s national titles (two NAIA, two NCAA) in 2003, opened the evening with some stories about John. The elder Gagliardi was just 65 when potential recruits and their parents started inquiring about how long he would continue to coach — the eventual answer turned out to be more than two decades.
Following a break for the summer, the next M.V.P. event will be held on Sept. 24.