Football: OUA renames coach of the year award for Tuffy Knight

Just noticed this on Laurier Football Club: The OUA has renamed its football coach of the year award after Tuffy Knight, the legendary Laurier Golden Hawks and Waterloo Warriors coach.

It's a fitting honour. Not only did Knight win conference titles with two teams, Laurier and Waterloo, which is pretty rare (Western's Greg Marshall and Calgary's Blake Nill have each achieved that distinction recently), but as noted in a previous post, he was a catalyst for changing the structure of football in Ontario. When Knight arrived at WLU (then Waterloo Lutheran) in 1965, most of the attention was focused on the Big Four, McGill, Queen's, Toronto and Western. Other schools played in what was called an intermediate league (in the 1950s, Queen's actually had a "second team" which played in the league).

There were a lot of macro factors involved in the change. The program Knight built at Laurier, then known as the little school, played a part in developing a new OUAA through the 1970s and '80s.

From this vantage point, Knight's Wiki epitomizes the spirit of football. He went from Laurier to helping Waterloo, which was in the midst of a national record losing streak when he arrived, achieve a modicum of respectability, peaking with an improbable Yates Cup in '97. He also returned to the Golden Hawks as an assistant coach and has stayed in the game by coaching high school football in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. Can you imagine a coach who had been to the top in the NCAA coaching high school football well into his 70s? There is something very cool and genuine about Tuffy Knight.

The honour is also timely, since exactly 20 seasons ago, Knight won the Frank Tindall Trophy as national coach of the year while skipping the Warriors.
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