One was from Saint Mary’s University, asking him to come back to the Huskies and lead the men’s football team where he’d spent 10 years as a defensive line coach. The other was from his good friend, the recently hired head coach and general manager for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Chris Jones.
“Call me ASAP.”
Intrigued by mystery, Annand dialed Jones first. The news on the other end of the line rocked his world.
“Scott, I want you in Regina.”
A decade ago, Annand was a highly regarded coach in the Maritimes, having spent the better part of 20 years working at the university level. After stints as a guest coach with the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots, he headed to Montreal one summer to do the same gig for the Alouettes.
“I’d never been part of a CFL team before, so I figured ‘Why not?’” he recalled. “The first person I was introduced to on the defensive side of the ball was Chris Jones.”
After just a week of working together, the two formed a tight friendship. They stayed close when Jones went to the Calgary Stampeders in 2008. Annand followed, filling the same role as a guest coach for summer camp. They’d also begun running a camp in Truro, the East Coast Mega Clinic, for coaches and Atlantic university recruits.
“From there the bond grew, and it’s been nothing but mutual respect and admiration.”
Each season, Annand would return to his teaching job in Truro and watch as Jones’ team – wherever he was – had success. Last month, he watched the Tennessean coach hoist his fourth Grey Cup with his fourth different team in 14 years.
A week later, Jones bolted from his champion Edmonton Eskimo team to the most storied franchise in Canadian football – the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
“I wasn’t surprised it happened,” Annand said. “Maybe with how quickly it happened.”
In his first press conference as head coach and GM, Jones said his premiere task was to surround himself with good people.
On Friday, it was announced that Annand would be one of those people, as the Truro native joined the Roughriders staff as an executive in charge of football operations.
“It’s still unbelievable,” Annand said. “Especially to be with this organization and a city where people wake up in the morning thinking about football and they go to bed at night thinking about football.
Despite the Riders’ basement finish last season, the team still sold 93 per cent of home tickets. It is the third most popular franchise in Canadian sports, behind the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs.
As part of Annand’s job, he’ll oversee behind-the-scenes operations for the team, ranging from travel plans to practice schedules, double-checking contracts and more. He’ll also bring some added perspective to the table, having been an extra set of eyes for Jones during the last 10 years.
Annand spent nine years with St. Francis Xavier, 10 more at Saint Mary’s, one at Mount Allison and three more at the helm of Cobequid Educational Centre. His resume totals 30-plus years of hard work and dedication, which have now paid off. In two weeks, he’ll head west for his first full-time gig in professional football.
“I’m living a dream come true right now.”