Coaches Tickle Funny Bones


It’s no secret in the Rim Country that former Paradise Valley High School basketball coach Bill Farrell, now of Payson, is known for his sense of humor.

Apparently, he’s been cracking jokes for quite a few years as evidenced by a blog Arizona Republic sports reporter Richard Obert wrote in which he named 30 coaches and officials who left indelible memories on him during his 30 years covering high school sports.

Obert wrote about Farrell who came in at No. 14 of the 30, “Not only one of the most successful boys basketball coaches during the 1980s and ’90s, but one of the funniest.

“In a 1995 story I did about Farrell and Mesa Mountain View coach Gary Ernst, who roomed together at Northern Arizona for a semester in the 1960s, Farrell said, ‘Gary moved on to a pretty good career at Grand Canyon College. In my career they (NAU) retired my jersey two years before I was through.’”

Farrell served three highly successful coaching stints at PVHS and after retiring to move to Payson, the school’s gym was named in his honor.

As humorous as Farrell can be, he’s not the only former high school coach in town able to spin a good tale or joke.

Troy Neal, a former Tempe High School coach turned northern Gila County rancher, is capable of wisecracking with the best.

During my teaching career, I had the opportunity to have two of his grandchildren in my math classes.

Apparently, the grandchildren were being encouraged to get good grades in school when they asked their grandfather, “Did you graduate from high school in the top half of your class?”

After careful consideration of the question, Troy answered, “Well, I was in the one-half of my graduating class that made the top half possible.”

Maybe Troy and Bill ought to consider founding an old coaches stand-up comedy club in Payson.

If they do, possibly the witty pair might invite me for a brief guest appearance.

After all, I can spin a few good yarns.

For example:

University of Arizona football coach Rich Rodriguez, after living a full life, died. When he got to heaven, God was showing him around. They came to a modest little house with a faded Wildcat flag in the window.

“This house is yours for eternity, Coach,” said God. “This is very special; not everyone gets a house up here.”

Rodriguez felt special, indeed, and walked up to his house. On his way up the porch, he noticed another house just around the corner. It was a three-story mansion with a maroon and gold sidewalk, 50-foot tall flagpole with an enormous Arizona State University flag and, in every window, a Sun Devil logo.

Rodriguez looked at God and said, “God, I’m not trying to be ungrateful, but I have a question. I was a good coach, I won some games. So why does ASU coach Todd Graham get a better house than me?”

God chuckled, and said, “Rodriguez, that’s not Graham’s house, it’s mine!”

From the Devils

An e-mail from the Arizona State football office, “In order to better serve Arizona State University Sun Devil fans in the Rim Country planning to attend the scrimmage on Saturday, Aug. 18, the time is now from 10 a.m. to noon.

This is an hour later than previously scheduled. Organizers still plan to be onsite by 6:30 a.m. to begin setting up to ensure everything is prepared for any early arriving fans.”

NFL Flag Football

The NFL Flag Football, non-tackle, co-ed league offers youth the opportunity to learn athletic skills and football knowledge in a fun, safe and educational setting. Games will be played weeknights. Cost is $35. Must register in person at the parks office. Registration closes Aug. 13.


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