Dec. 5, 2006
ATHENS, Ohio - Ohio assistant coach Brian Townsend won four Big Ten titles while a linebacker on the University of Michigan football team and went on to play in the NFL for two seasons. So how did Townsend end up a basketball coach?
"Basketball has always been my number one love. I was just much better at football. After I got done playing professional, I went back to my high school to coach basketball and really enjoyed it. When I got done with football, I wanted to do what I love, which is coaching basketball," Townsend said.
The coaching job at his former high school would set Townsend on a path toward his current job at Ohio University. A telecommunications major as an undergraduate student, Townsend decided to return to the University of Michigan to earn his teaching certificate and spend time helping Michigan basketball coach Steve Fisher.
"The head coaching job at Pioneer High School (in Ann Arbor, Mich.) opened right as I was finishing my certification and because of my experience at Michigan I was able to get the job," Townsend said.
At Pioneer High School, Townsend turned around a program that had won six games in the previous two years, to state champions in just his second season. During his time at Pioneer, Townsend coached several players who went on to play Division I basketball.
He initially met Tim O'Shea after one his players went on to play at Boston College, where O'Shea was an assistant at the time. Several years later, O'Shea would come calling on Townsend.
"He [head coach Tim O'Shea] called me and said he might have an opening and that he would like to bring me onto his staff and when the position did open he said it was mine if I wanted it"
Townsend immediately took the job and is now in his fourth year on the staff. Coach Townsend said he feels there are three areas that he greatly provides to the Ohio University coaching staff.
"My niche is making sure that they are mentally prepared. As a former athlete, I try to bring the mental aspect of the game-how to think and be smart and professional. I also focus heavily on the defensive side of the ball and the off-season skill improvement of our players"
Townsend has several ties to current Ohio University players. Following his NFL career, Townsend helped Jim Walther, father of Bubba Walther, coach his alma mater- Northwest High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. Also, while a head coach at Pioneer High School, Townsend coached Whitney Davis during his prep years.
Although a difficult transition, Townsend said he has grown to enjoy the small-town atmosphere of Athens.
"I love my neighbors, I love the coaching staff, and I love the kids. My wife and I really like Athens, mainly because of the great people here."
As far as his aspirations to one day hold a head coaching job at the college level, Townsend said it isn't something that he feels he needs.
"Do I have to be a head coach in the future at this level? Not at all. I just love coaching. Whether it has been at the college level or at the high school level, I just love watching kids do things they didn't think they could do."
Coach Townsend and the Bobcats are preparing for four games in five days on the road this week. They will travel to St. Bonaventure for a game on Wednesday evening, then play this Friday through Sunday at the NABC Classic in Louisville.
Townsend's profile was written by Brice Wiley, a junior jounalism/public relations major.