Towriss looks back on ca­reer with Huskies

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - SPORTS - KEVIN MITCHELL kemitchell@post­media.com twit­ter.com/ kmitchsp

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.”

GORD WALD­NER

Brian Towriss spent more than 30 years coach­ing the Univer­sity of Saskatchewan Huskies, win­ning three Vanier Cup ti­tles.

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