Joel Maturi is the fast-talking, hard-working but hard-luck former athletics director for the University of Minnesota. He might also be the inspiration for one of the most iconic characters ever to appear on "Saturday Night Live."
As laid out in a new profile from the Duluth News Tribune, Maturi coached high school football at Madison Edgewood High School from the early '70s to the late '80s. While in that role, Maturi happened to coach a short, squat Wisconsinite by the name of Chris Farley. At the time, Farley was a 5-foot-8, 215-pound nose tackle, who apparently spent more time studying Maturi’s mannerisms than learning the proper technique on the three-point stance.
Maturi admits that Farley’s “Matt Foley, motivational speaker” (you know, the slightly unstable one who lived in a van down by the river) was based, at least in part, on Maturi’s habit of hiking up his belt and crouching into a football stance during his motivational speeches to the football team.
“Matt Foley is a little bit about me, I’m afraid,” Maturi told the News Tribune. “I used to joke with [Farley], ‘You made a lot of money making fun of me.’”
Two questions come to mind. First: So, Maturi not only coached him in high school, but the two kept in touch while Farley was, well, Chris Farley? (The correct answer to this question is, “Awesome.”)
Secondly, where was THAT version of Joel Maturi when he was at Minnesota? Why couldn’t he have kicked off Gophers pep rallies by listing his age and the number of times he’d been divorced? Why didn’t he fire hapless football coach Tim Brewster by telling him that in the real world, he’d never amount to JACK SQUAT?
Obviously, comparing the two, Farley’s character was an outsized embellishment. But somewhere in the Midwestern inflection, the earnestness and the enthusiasm, there’s a little bit of Maturi.
Here, starting at the 0:30 mark, is Maturi at the groundbreaking ceremony for TCF Bank Stadium.
Now for the good stuff. Here’s Farley, as Matt Foley, coaching up Conan O’Brien, Andy Richter, Max Weinberg and an entire studio audience.