MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A decades-old college rivalry paid tribute to a legendary coach Saturday when the University of St. Thomas played at St. John’s University.
It’s been almost one week since SJU said goodbye to John Gagliardi, the winningest college football coach of all time.
Kate Raddatz was there the emotional tribute.
When it comes to college rivalries, the passion runs deep for Tommie-Johnnie.
“A lot of hype around it and everyone comes out for it, it’s so much fun,” said Sophie Link, a freshman at University of St. Thomas.
But Saturday’s matchup is a little different. There’s a mutual feeling of respect in the air to honor a coach who means so much.
“He was such a draw because of how he lived life, how he treated his people,” said DeWayne Mareck, an SJU fan.
The game started with a moment of silence for Gagliardi, who served as SJU’s head coach for 60 years, with a 43-17 record over St. Thomas.
He stepped down in 2012, but many of his formers players were at the game.
Tom Linnemann played quarterback for SJU under Gagliardi’s direction.
“It’s an emotional time,” Linnemann said. “It’s a special day, it’s a sad day, but it’s a big day.”
As the Johnnies took the field with John’s name on their helmets, they carry on playing football like the coach would have wanted.
Gagliardi died at the age of 91. He had a career record of 489 wins, more than any other college coach. His funeral will be held Monday.
St. John’s pulled away with a win, beating the Tommies 40-20.