SJU ranked No. 18 in ESPN's top 50 college football programs

The 1901 SJU football team went 4-0, including a 16-6 win over St. Thomas in the first Johnnie-Tommie game.
The 1901 SJU football team went 4-0, including a 16-6 win over St. Thomas in the first Johnnie-Tommie game.

Saint John's University Sports Information Department

COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. – Saint John's University football was recently ranked No. 18 out of ESPN's top 50 programs over the last 150 years.  

The ranking formula took into consideration a program's number of national championships and various winning percentages: dominance (best 50 seasons in program history), since integration (1969-2018), early modern (1919-1968) and pre-modern (1869-1918).

ESPN noted: "It is not true that the Johnnies' late head coach, John Gagliardi, coached against Frank Leahy. But it is true that Gagliardi became head coach at Saint John's in 1953, the last season that Leahy coached at Notre Dame, and didn't retire until 2012, after 60 seasons and 465 victories. Saint John's, according to our metrics, had one of the 10 most successful programs of the past 100 years. That's another way of saying Gagliardi won 27 conference titles and four national championships."

Alabama claimed the top spot, followed by Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Southern California.

North Dakota State was ranked No. 10 and Minnesota was listed at No. 29. Other NCAA Division III programs included were Mount Union (No. 16), Wittenberg (No. 27), Wisconsin-Whitewater (No. 31) and Linfield (No. 35). 

No. 3 SJU begins its 109th football season Sept. 7 at the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie, Wis. The Johnnies' all-time winning percentage of .714 (641-249-24 record) leads Division III (among those with 75 seasons or more) and is sixth-best across all divisions of college football.

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