Legendary task: Fasching takes over for Gagliardi at St. John's

  • Article by: DENNIS BRACKIN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 6, 2013 - 12:08 AM

Gary Fasching isn’t only taking over at St. John’s, he’s replacing John Gagliardi and his record 489 wins.

Gary Fasching assembled his team at midfield after a recent practice, again hitting on the major theme of the first St. John’s fall camp in 60 years without John Gagliardi as head coach. ¶ “There’s only one way to play the game — it’s an emotional game,” Fasching told his players. After a couple more comments, Fasching ended by saying: “I like what I saw today. Great intensity. Great emotion.”

 

Fasching maintains he’s “not trying to re-invent the wheel” as he leads the Johnnies into a new era that begins Friday night at Wisconsin-River Falls. His players suggest he already has altered the program with his emphasis on emotion and enthusiasm.

As successful as Gagliardi was — four national titles, more victories (489) than any coach in college football history — the Johnnies went 6-4 and 5-5 in each of his final two seasons, equaling their most losses under Gagliardi in any previous two-year span. The true seniors on this team are in a position none of them thought possible — none of them has played in a postseason game, nor played in a victory over archrival St. Thomas.

Players are careful not to criticize Gagliardi. But when asked the differences between this season and last, the answers are telling. Senior center Kevin Battis, leader of a veteran offensive line, said practices are noticeably more intense and up-tempo.

“That’s been a definite emphasis that we haven’t had around here,” said Battis, a returning All-MIAC first-teamer. “We’re kind of known for lackadaisical [practices]. … Personally, just because I played in John’s twilight, I see Gary as being a lot more upbeat, a lot more connected with the players.”

Senior running back Colin Moynihan said there’s “really a go-getting attitude, something we kind of lacked before. We’d come out in practice [in previous years] and it was a little lackluster. Now, we make it a daily job to come out and have high-intensity practices. It’s much more intense.”

Some things remain virtually unchanged. Fasching has told his players that the program will retain the basic philosophy established by Gagliardi, including no tackling in practice. But there are significant changes, many of which speak volumes about the importance of football to this Catholic college, located 80 miles northwest of Minneapolis.

Former St. John’s quarterback and Carleton head coach Kurt Ramler, one of three finalists to replace Gagliardi, is the new associate head coach/offensive coordinator. Ramler, who had Arizona contacts from his days at Carleton, has helped St. John’s expand its recruiting base; the roster includes 20 players from California and Arizona, 12 of them new to the program this fall. The staff includes a new strength and conditioning coach, Justin Rost, a position the program lacked. And Fasching calls his freshman class “maybe the most talented class since I’ve been here,” which spans 17 years as an assistant to Gagliardi.

Fasching said his single goal is to get the program back to the top to its familiar place atop the MIAC. Now.

“We’re going to be disappointed if we’re not conference champs and go to the playoffs,” he said when asked what was realistic this season. “At St. John’s, that has to be our goal every year.”

The meeting

Although Gagliardi’s departure was officially termed a retirement, his exit wasn’t completely amicable. School officials admit numerous discussions were needed before Gagliardi decided to step aside, and once he did, the legendary coach was upset by the decision to form a search committee, which gave no consideration to replacing him with his son, Jim Gagliardi, the offensive coordinator of last year’s team.

Gagliardi’s ire increased after Fasching got the job and demoted Jim to wide receivers coach and coordinator of football operations, a fancy title that meant he handled most of the mundane off-the-field matters.

The potential for infighting surfaced almost immediately during an early staff meeting. Ramler, according to several coaches, announced his intention to redo the offensive numbering system. Jim Gagliardi voiced his dissent, believing a drastic change would create needless confusion among players.

There was, coaches say, an uneasy silence in the moments that followed. When Ramler broke the silence, it was to say that Jim was correct, and the Johnnies would keep the basic numbering of plays intact.

“I wouldn’t even say we compromised — I would say I listened to Jim,” Ramler said.

Asked if that was an important moment for the staff, Ramler said: “It’s important for any staff, right? We work together. I don’t think I’m doing my job right if I don’t listen to the guys that have valuable input.”

  • related content

  • MIAC football preview

    Thursday September 5, 2013

    Listed in predicted order of finish by conference coaches:1 St. Thomas (14-1 overall, 8-0 MIAC in 2012): The Tommies, who...

  • Chart: Gary Fasching at a glance

    Friday September 6, 2013

    Gary Fasching at a glanceAge: 54As a player: Three-year starter at linebacker for St. John’s (1977-1981); Winsted Holy Trinity High...

  • UMAC, independent football preview

    Friday September 6, 2013

    A look at the Minnesota teams in the ten-member UMAC:• St. Scholastica (8-3 overall, 7-1 UMAC in 2012): The Saints,...

  • NSIC football preview

    Thursday September 5, 2013

    Teams listed in predicted order of finish by conference coaches:1 MSU Mankato (13-1 overall, 11-0 NSIC in 2012): The Mavericks...

  • Head Coach Gary Fasching praised defense lineman Nate Blenker after a...

  • Sophomore quarterback Nick Martin is one of two returning starting quarterbacks for St. John’s. Martin took over for senior Connor Bruns at midseason after Bruns suffered a shoulder injury.

  • Under new St. John’s coach Gary Fasching, says senior running back Colin Moynihan, “[We] come out and have high-intensity practices. It’s much more intense.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Houston 23 FINAL
Pittsburgh 30
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 98 FINAL
Cleveland 107
New Orleans 88 FINAL
Washington 84
Milwaukee 120 FINAL
New York 107
Philadelphia 88 FINAL
Brooklyn 99
Charlotte 114 FINAL
Atlanta 117
Sacramento 99 FINAL
San Antonio 106
Memphis 103 FINAL
Dallas 108
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Arkansas State 10/21/14 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close