When it comes to the “Mount Rushmore” of Long Island football legends, longtime CW Post/Long Island University coach Bryan Collins certainly occupies a place.
Collins, 58, from Seville, tragically died of a heart attack on Saturday morning. He dedicated his life to the sport and left a lasting impact on the lives of many.
Before his sudden death, Collins was preparing for his third season as an assistant coach at Stony Brook and was recently promoted to defensive coordinator.
A mentor and respected figure, he earned the admiration of Stony Brook football coach Chuck Priorey, who expressed a deep appreciation for working with Collins. “We have not only lost a great football coach, but more importantly, an exceptional individual,” Priore said.
During his illustrious career, Collins served as the legendary head coach of the CW Post/LIU for 23 years. His accomplishments include an impressive 162 victories, six NCAA Tournament appearances and eight Northeastern 10 Conference titles. In addition, he has won the title of Coach of the Year for the Northeast Ten Team seven times. Under his leadership, the CW Post had 16 winning seasons, including undefeated seasons in 2002, 2016 and 2018.
The loss is mourned by the entire Long Island football community, especially those who were fortunate enough to be a part of Collins’ journey with the CW Post and LIU. Former CW Post wide receiver Jeremiah Pope, who now coaches the Port Washington High girls’ track team, emphasized that Collins’ role is not just that of a coach, but that of a mentor and father.
Pope described Collins as someone who instilled strength, toughness and winning values on and off the court. “He always put the players first and gave us everything we needed,” he said.
Collins’ dedication and loyalty was shown not only to his players but to the entire football staff, fostering a strong sense of camaraderie. Longtime CW Post/LIU Facilities Manager Frank Venturino fondly recalls their friendship, which began in 1991 when they both joined Post. Venturino praised Collins for his genuine concern for the players and staff, noting that they are like a close family.
“Brian Collins is one of the greatest people I’ve ever met,” Venturino said. “He cared deeply about his players and staff. We’re all family. We all started at Post in 1991 and became friends very quickly.”
Widely respected as a leading man, Collins left a lasting impression on many, including Oceanside High School head coach and former CW Post quarterback Rob Blount.
Blunt sees Collins as a second father figure in his life, acknowledging the key role he played in shaping him as a young man. Expressing immense gratitude and love, Blunt said Collins was instrumental to his personal and professional growth and will be greatly missed.
“My love for that man is endless,” Blunt said. “He was a big reason why I am where I am and who I am. I will miss him very much.”
Before becoming a successful coach, Collins himself played linebacker at St. John’s University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1987. He began his coaching career with Post in 1991 as an assistant defensive coach/defensive line. He later served as the defensive coordinator/linebackers coach at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy from 1994 to 1996 before returning to CW Post as the defensive coordinator/linebackers coach for the Vanguard. In 1998, he was promoted to head coach of the CW Post.
“I had the honor of coaching Bryan at St. John’s,” Roosevelt High School head coach Joe Vito said. “He works really hard in his industry. His love for football is very evident because he always has time to meet with high school coaches. Bryan is known for his knowledge of the 4-4 defense, he and I and many New York coaches Sit together and teach us defense.”
Collins’ impact extended far beyond the field, leaving an indelible mark on Long Island football. He is highly regarded by players and coaches, especially those closest to him. His commitment to improving the lives of young people was evident and will always be remembered by those he touched.
Former offensive lineman Jonathan Isopo, who was Collins’ first recruit after becoming head coach of the CW Post in 1998, expressed his heartfelt sentiments in social media posts.
Isopau thanked Collins for accepting him, making him part of the football family and guiding him into the man, husband and father he is today. He credits Collins with instilling the values of hard work, dedication and success into all areas of his life.
“I burst into tears,” he wrote. “Thank you for being a role model and a mentor! Most of all, thank you for being you! An amazing coach, an amazing man, the best dad and a loving husband!”
Collins has orchestrated a special culture in his football program, instilling in his players a belief that they are part of a family capable of greatness.
Former CW Post running back and returner Ian Smart, who turned pro, emphasized Collins’ role as a father, friend and mentor. He emphasized that Collins’ mission is not only to cultivate outstanding football players, but also to shape outstanding individuals. Smart finally said that we will miss Collins very much, and his influence is immeasurable.
“His mission is not to produce great football players, but to produce great men,” said Smart, who has played in the NFL, NFL Europe and the CFL. “He was absolutely a true player-coach and we will miss him greatly.”
Following the 2018 season, Collins oversaw the transition of the LIU Post football program from Division II to Division I. Despite challenges, including a winless first season in the Division I and subsequent disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic, Collins remains committed to his players.
The football team didn’t have an equipment manager, so Collins used his lifeline.
He called an old friend for help.
“In January of 2021, I got a call from Coach Collins asking if I would like to come back,” Venturino said. “I hadn’t been in the business since 2003 and wasn’t sure I was up to it. After day one, I was back in shape and taking care of the team.”
On March 7, 2021, the Long Island University Sharks (the team’s new name following the merger with Long Island University Brooklyn) scored their first Division I victory under Collins.
It was a 24-19 home victory over Bryant University, the first Division I football victory in school history.
Venturino spoke fondly of how Collins presented him with a game ball at an exciting team gathering in recognition of his contributions.
“That’s how much he cares about me and the work I do for his kids,” Venturino said.
After the team finished a brief season with a 2-2 record, Collins announced his resignation from LIU, marking the end of the CW Post/LIU era.
Collins’ impact on Long Island and New York City football cannot be overstated.
“It’s impossible to walk into a high school in Southern New York and not know who Brian Collins is,” Blunt said. “He’s done more New York football over the last 30 years than anyone I know, and that’s no disrespect to anyone.”
Collins is special.
He is deeply rooted in society and his contributions are widely recognized. He established the CW Post/LIU program with local talent to instill a sense of togetherness and resilience. He left an enduring legacy, and his impact will be remembered and carried forward by countless others.
Collins’ funeral will be at the funeral home from 7-9:30 pm Thursday, 2-4:30 pm and 7-9:30 pm Friday
A funeral mass will be held at the Roman Catholic Church of St. Lawrence the Martyr in Seville at 9:45 a.m. on Saturday.
He is survived by his wife, Patti. his children, Taylor and Meghan; and his brother, John Collins, who reside in Florida.
daughter meghan pays tribute to him
Above: Bryan Collins poses with one of his players at Stony Brook. (Credit: Twitter)