Brian Towriss’ Huskies Record
1988: 6-2 (lost Canada West final)
1989: 6-2 (lost Vanier Cup)
1990: 6-2 (won Vanier Cup)
1991: 5-3 (lost Atlantic Bowl)
1994: 6-2 (lost Vanier Cup)
1995: 6-2 (lost Canada West final)
1996: 7-1 (won Vanier Cup)
1998: 6-2 (won Vanier Cup)
1999: 6-2 (lost Churchill Bowl)
2001: 5-3 (lost Canada West semifinal)
2002: 4-4 (lost Vanier Cup)
2003: 8-0 (lost Canada West semifinal)
2004: 6-2 (lost Vanier Cup)
2005: 8-0 (lost Vanier Cup)
2006: 6-2 (lost Vanier Cup)
2007: 5-3 (lost Canada West semifinal)
2008: 6-2 (lost Canada West semifinal)
2009: 7-1 (lost Canada West final)
2010: 6-2 (lost Canada West semifinal)
2011: 5-3 (lost Canada West semifinal)
2012: 5-3 (lost Canada West semifinal)
2013: 5-3 (lost Canada West semifinal)
2014: 6-2 (lost Canada West semifinal)
2015: 3-5 (lost Canada West semifinal)
2016: 5-3 (lost Canada West semifinal)
Brian Towriss didn’t plan this life in football.
It tapped him on the shoulder, made an offer he couldn’t refuse, knitted itself into his daily existence.
He should have been an accountant, or an administrator, because that’s what he studied in school. But look at him in 1984: He’s 27 years old, and he’s coaching football players who have blown out just as many birthday candles as he has.
“We had a couple of guys on the team who were actually older at the time. And I’d played with four or five of them,” Towriss — whose impending induction into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame was announced Wednesday — says of that first season as a head coach with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies.
It was a humble springboard, but Towriss — who went on to win more games than any coach in the history of Canadian university football — found a way to fly.
The Huskies hadn’t notched a plus-.500 record since 1976, and they’d missed the playoffs seven consecutive years when Towriss dropped his assistant-coach tag and and accepted the top job.
“I got a letter from (previous head coach Val Schneider), saying he wanted to step down and he was going to recommend that they consider me to take over,” Towriss recalls. “How many other people they talked to, I have no idea.”
Towriss, who played defensive end with the Huskies from 1974 to 1977, met with the dean, John Dewar. In the time it took to say “you’re hired,” he was a football head coach at a major Canadian university — albeit one with a limited history of success.
Towriss’s teams went 3-5, 2-6, 3-5 and 2-6 over the next four seasons, before a 1988 breakout that saw them go 6-2 and lose the league final to Calgary.
The Huskies have missed the playoffs just four times since then, the last in 2000. Towriss’s 196 career regular-season and playoff victories are unmatched. He won Vanier Cups in 1990, 1996 and 1998, and lost six others.
Towriss’s 33-year run ended this past December; the Huskies bid farewell to their long-time football coach after an eighth consecutive playoff loss. Three months later, he’s Hall-bound.
“I enjoyed being on the sidelines,” Towriss says of those early days. “But it was never a career aspiration. It was just kind of put in my lap. I said ‘well, I’ll try this for a couple of years’, and I ended up enjoying it. After four or five years of figuring out what had to be done, the rest of it ran from there. And it went by really, really quickly — there’s no doubt about that.
“When I was 27, we were just trying to survive day to day. There was a lot of things I wanted to do, but we had a lot of football to learn — a lot to learn about managing people, and handling people.”
Towriss later received CFL feelers, most notably in the mid-1990s, when then-Saskatchewan Roughriders’ coach Ray Jauch talked seriously with Towriss about coaching the team’s running backs, and possibly taking a growing role in the team’s offensive scheme.
Towriss, defaulting to the more stable life of a university coach, opted to stay on campus.
The Moose Jaw native talks proudly of the assistant coaches he worked with who helped build and maintain the program. He hired from within, working mostly with alumni, who felt a deep sense of loyalty to both the program and the head coach. Those relationships, he says, are his fondest memory.
And that lofty status as the nation’s winningest coach? Towriss is quick to downplay it.
“Well, that’s only until (Laval’s Glenn) Constantin coaches for a few more years,” Towriss said. “But yes — we won a lot of games, and had a lot of success. There’s no doubt about that. And we put a lot of work into it, too. If we hadn’t, things like (the induction) wouldn’t have happened — nor would it have been as much fun. You play the game to win, and that’s always the case. I’m a highly competitive guy, and we played to win, but not win at all costs. We weren’t going to pay somebody (under the table); we did everything we could within the rules of the game, and the parameters we had to be successful. I’m most proud to say, as I step down, that that’s what we did.”
Read Full Thread