Towriss looks back on career with Huskies
Brian Towriss went to the web this week and watched his old work play out on the screen.
Towriss, the former head coach of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, will be honoured at a gathering Saturday at the Field House, and he wanted to refresh his memory before reuniting with former players.
Some of those old games can be found online, including the 1996 and 1998 Vanier Cup titles.
“A thing that stuck out when I was watching those teams — especially the ’96 and ’98 teams — was just how hard they played,” Towriss, a Canadian Football Hall of Fame inductee, said Friday.
“You’re looking at a 25-minute highlight of a three-hour game, but they were physical and fast and violent. I think the game has changed a little bit. It’s a faster game in terms of how people run, but the violence ... we’d have eight or nine people to the ball, and guys running all the way across the field and delivering a vicious blow after a 20-yard run, to create a fumble. Just the effort — that’s what struck me, was how hard and physical those teams were.”
Towriss’s Huskies won three Vaniers, the first in 1990. They played in nine. Towriss, who parted with the Huskies prior to the 2017 campaign, is the winningest coach in Canadian university history with 196 victories.
He was asked for his most memorable moments, and bounced through the decades during an off-the-cuff few minutes.
“The most memorable moment had to be the first Vanier Cup,” Towriss said. “That’s pretty obvious. The two home (playoff ) games, where we had such great crowds — against Western in ’98, and against Queen’s in 1989. The Mitchell Bowl games here, we had such great crowds ... they were hard-fought games, like the Laval one in 2005, when we beat them at home (29-27) on the last play of the game. Those were memorable.
“One of the most relieving ones was the comeback (national semifinal) win in Ottawa in 2006, to ensure we were going to play at home. We were behind, but the kids battled the whole day. It set the stage to play at home in the Vanier Cup ... and then the Vanier Cup game at home has to be the second most memorable. Order them however you wish, but the Vanier Cup in 1990 and the Vanier Cup at home (in 2006) were the most rewarding.”
Vanier No. 1, Towriss said, set the stage for Saskatchewan’s success over the next two-plus decades. It capped a three-year building process that included a loss in the 1989 Vanier.
“It established levels of expectation, and proved to everybody it could be done,” Towriss said. “Success breeds success.”
The Huskies honoured Towriss during their game Friday with Calgary. He’ll gather with fans and alumni Saturday. The evening includes a question-and-answer session with former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall and broadcaster Darren Dutchyshen.
Towriss keeps a hand in the game, including a stint as a training camp guest coach with the Guelph Gryphons. What he does next, football-wise, remains up in the air.
“I haven’t actively pursued anything. I’ve had three or four opportunities I’ve chosen not to pursue,” Towriss said.
“But you never know. I feel like I have some football left in me, and maybe that right situation is just talking to kids about leadership, mentoring some kids, working with high school kids and other coaches.
“That may be it, too — I don’t know. But I’ve enjoyed getting back on the field when I did it.”
Brian Towriss spent more than 30 years coaching the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, winning three Vanier Cup titles.