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“Our whole thing is, we want our best players to play in the games,” Grant said. “I know some coaches say that, but then they go out and hit and hit and pound all week, and really it’s the survivors of the week that play in the game.”

Goldsmith said Gagliardi’s success is based on much more. Insisting that he’s called by his first name “really invites you to know the person, and not just the coach,” Goldsmith said. “His demeanor, his voice, his tone _ it’s all very inviting.”

To many on this quiet college campus about 80 miles northwest of Minneapolis, Gagliardi is viewed as a living legend. The bookstore sells T-shirts with pictures of Gagliardi throughout his coaching career and the word “Legend.”

But there is no statue of Gagliardi on St. John’s campus, which is nestled amid prairies, lakes and forest and encloses an abbey.

Gagliardi shrugs off questions about legacy, saying he’s just happy “to have been able to survive.”

On a recent Friday, Gagliardi meticulously went over game footage in his office. He said it’s nice to be in the record books, but he doesn’t think much about the successes or his longevity in the game _ he’s more focused on the next task.

“The one thing I’ve done for all these many years is focused on the next game and forgot the last one. And you can’t think that far ahead,” he said, pausing. “That’s my whole life.”

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Follow Amy Forliti on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/amyforliti.