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UWRF to host tribute to coaching legend Mike Farley

September 18, 2014

In 1970, the UW-River Falls football team finished its season 1-8 under new head coach Mike Farley.

In the following 18 seasons, Farley would accumulate over 100 wins with eight WIAC championships, making him the most accomplished coach in UWRF history.

On Thursday, Sept. 25, the university will be hosting a tribute honoring Farley and all of his accomplishments over the years. Jim Thies, UWRF Sports Information director, says the tribute will begin at 3 p.m. with tours around the facilities to see what has changed over the years, as well as showing the plans for the upcoming Falcon Center.

The event will then move to the River Falls Golf Club where people will socialize until 7 p.m. where guests will have a chance to speak about all of their favorite Farley memories, as well as words from Farley himself.

Farley wasn’t only a respected coach, but was also respected by everyone he encountered.

“By the number of people he has coached in his tenure, he has effected literally thousands of people,” said Mike Farley Jr., Falcons quarterback from 1981-1984 and Farley’s son.

Farley Jr. continued by saying former players would come up to him and tell him that “without coach Farley, there would be a good chance that they would be in prison or dead.”

Farley Jr. credits his dad for putting the city of River Falls on the map because of the recruiting measures he went through. Farley said his dad would recruit in places no other teams would, such as the inner cities of Chicago or Minneapolis, bringing a more diverse group of people to the city of River Falls. He continued by saying the city grew close to three times the size from the time he started as head coach at River Falls to his very last game.

Thies said players on his team would, “run through walls for him because he was very upfront with them and very frank with them. Here’s what we are going to do and this is how we are going to do it, let’s go.”

Thies also talked about his commitment to the program, saying he would drive to Menomonie every night to use the phone in order to recruit players to come to River Falls.

On the field, Farley would make a lasting impression with the fans that attended the games. Farley started his head coaching career with a slow start after only having three winning seasons from 1970-1978. But from 1979-1988 Farley would turn things around and compile a record of 75-24-2 while capturing six WIAC titles.

“My dad wasn’t the dad coaching little league games, he was off recruiting,” said Farley Jr. “I had never played for my dad before coming to school. He treated me equal or tougher than everyone else on the team.”

Farley is expected to talk with the current football team in the locker room, hoping to give words of encouragement and get the team ready for their Homecoming game on October 4 against UW-Stevens Point. For more information about the event, contact the alumni office at 715-425-3505 or visit the Tribute to Mike Farley Facebook page.