When John Gagliardi's 64-year run as a head coach ended at St. John's University last year, he left as the all-time winningest coach in college football history.
Four of his 489 career wins were national championships. He guided the Johnnies to a pair of N.A.I.A. titles in 1963 and '65, and Division III titles in 1976 and 2003.
His decorated career hasn't gone unnoticed by the National College Football Awards Association.
Gagliardi will receive the NCFAA's Contributions to College Football Award during a live broadcast on ESPN at 6:00 p.m. Thursday. The award is designated for individuals who have "been closely associated with college football as a player, coach, administrator, media personality or other position attendant to the game."
Past winners of the award, which debuted in 2002, include legends like Bobby Bowden (2008), Tom Osborne (2005), and Darrell Royal (2002).
"It is hard to believe I am even mentioned with the previous nominees," Gagliardi told the NCFAA. "I have obviously out-punted my coverage and am completely out of my league.
"If I contributed anything to football perhaps it is that we were successful with a very different approach to coaching. We showed that we could win with short practices and no full-go contact, as well as other out-of-the-box tactics."
The man presenting the award will be legendary Gophers and Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz.
“It’s a great honor,” Gagliardi said of Holtz’s participation, according to the St. Cloud Times. “I’ve talked to him several times over the years and we’ve exchanged e-mails.
“When he wrote his last book, he even sent me a copy with a nice message. So we know each other a little bit.”
The New York Times captured Gagliardi's career with an excellent piece shortly after Gagliardi retired. Gagliardi didn't allow his players to call him "Coach." He wanted everyone to call him John.