Joel Maturi’s Chris Farley connection

by Joseph Kleinschmidt

According to a new story in the Duluth News Tribune, the U's former athletics director Joel Maturi may have been the inspiration behind one of the most memorable sketches in Saturday Night Live history. The young Chris Farley was a Nose tackle for Madison Edgewood High School and had Maturi for a coach. While Maturi coached the high school football team, the lineman and later SNL alumn studied his coach's mannerisms to later use in the character "Matt Foley," or better known as the sweaty, motivational speaker who lives in a van down by the river. 

Apparently the young Farley took Maturi's habit of pulling up his belt while giving pigskin pep-talks to later adapt to a character that chastises David Spade for his writing aspirations and later destroys a living room table. Maturi claims he did not, in fact, live in a van down by the river as Farley's 35 year old speaker does. (We can probably assume that means no "doobie rolling" too.) But the former athletics director does admit, "Matt Foley is a little bit about me, I'm afraid," Maturi told the Duluth News Tribune. “I used to joke with him, ‘You made a lot of money making fun of me.’"

Read more about the speculation in's coverage of the Maturi-Foley connection. Also, revisit the classic scene with Farley's rendition of the sketch on an early episode of Late Night with Conan O'Brien.