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Brian Towriss: The Huskie for Life

Nicholas Gardner

Consistency, Culture, Core Values.

Those, and plenty more, are set for life within the Saskatchewan Huskies football program thanks to Brian Towriss.

Ask anyone around the University of Saskatchewan – they’ll know who he is, and what he’s done.

What he’s done includes being the winningest head football coach in Canadian university history (196 victories), having the most Vanier Cup appearances as a head coach (9), and a Canadian Football Hall of Fame induction in 2017, all during his 33 years as bench boss of the Huskies.

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“We just showed up and pursued a passion. I was fortunate enough to stay at one place for a long time, and I was surrounded by a group of coaches who ended up becoming my best friends,” says Towriss. “The results were the end of the process, but we just had so much fun day to day working together.”

“The results were the end of the process, but we just had so much fun day to day working together.”

In recognition of his legendary career, Towriss received the Jean-Marie de Koninck Coaching Excellence Award on Monday night. Despite carrying all of those accolades, “BT” as he is often called, will never take the full credit.

“It’s a process thing,” he says. “We had a great group of coaches, and that allowed us to be prepared for each game to go and give it our all.”

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Thanks to the sport of football, Towriss has been able to touch the lives of many throughout his tenure at the University of Saskatchewan. Arguably none more than that of 15-year CFL veteran, and current Huskies head coach Scott Flory.

“I’ve had the chance and privilege to be with him on numerous fronts,” says Flory, who played under Towriss from 1994-1998. “I can’t think of a superlative except the word ‘awesome’ to describe him. I mean, he’s just that kind of person.

“BT is special. The way he coaches, the way he is as a man, he’s just special. He laid the foundation for this program and now, my job as head coach is just to keep those traditions running.”

“BT is special. The way he coaches, the way he is as a man, he’s just special. He laid the foundation for this program and now, my job as head coach is just to keep those traditions running.”

During his career Coach Towriss had hoisted the Vanier Cup three times, but to him, one may have stood above them all.

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“I think winning that first National Championship in 1990 was special,” he says. “It wasn’t the most talented team we’ve had, but the way those guys worked was unbelievable. That same group of guys lost the conference finals two years before, then the national semifinal, and they came back and won the entire thing. The team resiliency was something special.”

In spite of all the accomplishments BT has had throughout his career, he’s most recognized for creating stability, culture, and a winning program at the University of Saskatchewan.

“I think what made Coach Towriss so effective was the foundation he laid. He was never really focused on the results or the wins and losses, but it was the way he prepared his guys,” says Flory. “He allowed guys to develop, he helped guys until they were able to stand on their own two feet. He approached the game much differently than most people, and he stays true to his values.”

“He allowed guys to develop, he helped guys until they were able to stand on their own two feet. He approached the game much differently than most people, and he stays true to his values.”

Towriss’ long-term athlete development is rare. He’s had an uncanny ability to handle all personalities throughout his tenure, but to BT, it’s because that development and relationship reaches far further than any practice or game.

“You’re preparing these guys for life,” he says. “I mean, you take them in at 18, 19 years old – it’s kind of your responsibility to mold them.”

Clearly, it’s much more than just a game to Coach Towriss. His ability to connect with his players and coaches, creates a cohesiveness. As that cohesiveness becomes consistent, it develops into a culture. That’s all created through what Towriss stated as his “most gratifying coaching moment.”

“Results have little to do with it. The day-to-day interactions with the players, that’s what it’s all about. Now, in the position I’m in, being able to look back and see what they’ve been able to do with their lives is the long term satisfaction. I just hope I’ve had a little influence on them.”

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What Towriss describes as “little” may be bigger than he could’ve imagined. Having coached thousands of players and developed a consistency unlike anything the University of Saskatchewan has ever seen, BT has left a lasting impression on the players, coaches, program, and school that sits just east of the South Saskatchewan River.

“There’s a legacy set here,” Flory says. “We know what the program is about, I know what the program is about, and it’s near and dear to my heart. The foundation is set, and that’s thanks to Brian. It’s been an honor, a true honor, to have him as both a mentor and a friend. The Huskies will continue to move forward and compete, but we’ll never lose sight of where we came from with BT.”

“We know what the program is about, I know what the program is about, and it’s near and dear to my heart. The foundation is set, and that’s thanks to Brian. It’s been an honor, a true honor, to have him as both a mentor and a friend. The Huskies will continue to move forward and compete, but we’ll never lose sight of where we came from with BT.”

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Not even in his wildest dreams could the young man from Moose Jaw, Sask. had envisioned his effect at the University of Saskatchewan over three decades after his coaching career began.

“To be recognized by the peers and administrators around U SPORTS is an honour. You can never say you thought you were going to be here, but it’s nice to be. I just think to the day in and day out process that we went through and how much fun our teams would have doing it. I’m proud to say those guys are still some of my best friends.”


Nick_Gardner.png (2.84 MB)Nicholas is third-year student in the Radio & Television Arts: Sport Media program at Ryerson University. He has written for ebonybird.com, covering the Baltimore Ravens for Fansided and Raptors HQ, covering Canada’s NBA team for SB Nation.  Sports has been the integral piece in Nicholas’ life and has opened many doors for him throughout the years. He has been taught many practical character traits through the love, passion, and competitiveness of sports, but none more important than teamwork and respect.