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BEST COACH Minneapolis 2006 - John Gagliardi

Readers' Choice: Ron Gardenhire

Now that we finally got rid of that lunkhead Mike Tice and that coach's coach Flip Saunders, it's time we take stock of the rest of the local yokels on the benches and the sidelines. And? Well, it's ineptitude all around, really—a truly bad year for coaches. Both Gopher hockey teams ended their seasons in disappointing fashion, the Twins took a precipitous drop toward mediocrity, the Gopher football team failed in another meaningless bowl game, and the Gopher basketball team suffered a blow when its coach fell all over himself to guarantee he'd be back next season. Pam Borton, coach of the U's women's b-ballers, had looked to be a lock on this category until the season fizzled out and five(!) players left the program. That's why it was heartening to hear in late March that ESPN was planning a doc on the top 10 coaches in college football history, and John Gagliardi, who has coached at St. John's for 53 years, had made the list. Gagliardi has lodged 57 seasons as a head coach, and next season will break the record for most seasons coached, outpacing the legendary Amos Alonzo Stagg. (In another milestone next season, Gagliardi will coach one of his former players' grandsons.) But longevity isn't everything, and it certainly doesn't come without winning, which Gagliardi also has done more than any other college coach, posting a career record of 432-118-11. Even the Johnnies, who have won 29 MIAC titles and four Division-III national championships under the coach, had a rare stumble last year, losing in the second round of the NCAA playoffs. But the 79-year-old was yet again the best of the bunch this year, proving that aside from being one for the record books, he's also one for the ages.

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