When Gagliardi mentioned the unwelcome catcalls to Father Arno, the priest soothed him. "Ignore Brother Leo. He is a bit senile, you know. Although I must admit that is the first intelligent thing he's said in 10 years."
After last season's 67-19 humbling of St. Olaf, Gagliardi was chided by several of the monastery's older monks. They reminded him of the Oles' 80-0 rout of the Johnnies back in 1930 and demanded to know of him, "Why didn't you run it up?"
The Benedictines think enough of Gagliardi to let him teach a class: Theory of Football. It is widely regarded as a gut. During one class last spring Gagliardi was showing tapes when onto the screen leaped Jim Lehman, who played at St. John's from 1953 to '56. In the clip Lehman swung out of the backfield, latched onto a screen pass and turned up-field. Four opponents fell to downfield blocks. Three more opponents converged on Lehman; they had him boxed in. Gagliardi froze the video.
"How can any mere mortal escape this predicament? He's trapped, right?" The class knew better than to bite. Gagliardi rolled the tape. Lehman stopped, sidestepped his pursuers—who collided with one another—and ran for six.
Gagliardi challenged the class: "You know what enabled him to get away, don't you?" Dramatic pause. "Great coaching! I'm the one who said, 'This guy is a hell of an athlete—let's give him the ball!' " The class cracked up. "That's right," Gagliardi repeated. "Great coaching."
No one disagreed.