20 December 2003


If only people paid attention:

Today the winningest program in college football squared off against the winningest coach in college footbal for a national championship. And I'd bet good money that most people don't even know.

Last Saturday the Mount Union Raiders won their 55th game since their last loss and set the national record. The record it broke was 54 games set by the Mt. Union Raiders immediately prior to its last loss (that's a 109-1 record). It is a football machine which has won 6 of the last 7 national championships.

During this season the St. John Johnnies coach, John Gagliardi, won his 409th game and passed Coach Robinson to become the winningest coach in collegiate history. And he's done it in a manner which most coaches would think is absolutely insane: "He's outlawed methods that he detested while he was a player. There are no spring practices, no compulsory weightlifting program and no whistles used. Players call him John - the term "coach" has been banned. Practices are held to 90 minutes or less, and there are no blocking sleds or dummies, no tackling in practice and no pads at practice (players wear shorts or sweats). In Collegeville, Minnesota, they call his approach 'Winning with Nos.'"

The two teams played for the national championship in 2000 with the Raiders winning 10-7 on a field goal with one second on the clock.

Today these two teams met without a lot of hoopla and settled it on the field. Why didn't you hear about it? Because they are both Division III teams. In case you don't know, that means the kids play without athletic scholarships. They have to actually meet the school's criteria to get in, they have go to class, and they will go on to graduate school or jobs after they finish college - not the NFL.1

They met in Salem, Virginia, played an exciting game, left it all on the field and the winner was . . .

1 How does football balance against academics at a Div. III school? Here's a blurb from my undergrad: "[Centre College s]enior strong safety John Ortega was invited to the Aztec Bowl in Cancun, Mexico, an all-star game for NCAA Division III standouts, on Dec. 13 but declined to concentrate on his academics during finals week."

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