Bill Cunerty’s pin-high life is over, but he’s still teaching – Press Enterprise

You can still order “Sequential Golf.” It might be battered and wrinkled, but it reads just fine.

If you’re worried about finding the proper balance, it tells you to pretend someone just threw a bag of rocks for you to catch. Your knees will flex instinctively.

If you’re upset that your many hours on the range are only producing more majestic slices, it tells you that practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.

If you’re plagued by a “hozzle rocket,” a euphemism for “shank,” then the remedy is to gather your clubs and proceed to the car. There will be another, brighter day.

The book was written in 1987 in the reassuring voice of Bill Cunerty, who died Oct. 22 of Parkinson’s disease at 74.

Cunerty was a scratch golfer. “He might not hit it that far,” remembered Conner Manning, “but he put it in the fairway and then he’d hit it to five feet, every time.”

Cunerty was also the Saddleback College golf coach, and the football coach, after he was the offensive coordinator for 14 years. His Gauchos won the national title in 1996. He later became the football analyst on Cox’s telecasts in south Orange County, and there was always a chance he had worked with one or both of the quarterbacks.

Plus, he and Rod Sherman had organized fantasy camps at USC during Pete Carroll’s time, and stockbrokers and insurance agents got a chance to get cajoled by Ed Orgeron or chased by Charles White. Cunerty used to laugh about how quiet the bus was on the final day, when it came to the Coliseum for the climactic “game.”

Cunerty laughed a lot. He had played at USC, as the backup to the backup quarterback. He was proud of his knack for the interception that would prompt Marv Goux, the fearsome assistant coach, to finally take the defense off the field at practice. Or at least that’s how he told it.

So many functions, so many chairs, and yet Cunerty was most comfortable at the teacher’s desk.

Like former Cal State Fullerton football coach Gene Murphy, he was far more famous within football than without. Blessed are those who simplify the complex, and Cunerty did that everywhere. His insights were community property, not to be hoarded.

Bill Cunerty’s pin-high life is over, but he’s still teaching – Press Enterprise
(Photo courtesy of Claudia Cunerty)

Quarterbacking, the most demanding job in sports, was the subject of his master class.

Manning had played only flag football until the eighth grade. At El Toro, he set Orange County passing records, a mouthful right there. On Sundays, Cunerty and Manning would meet in a Mission Viejo park, and Cunerty would counsel Manning on footwork and arm mechanics and vision. They were rarely alone.

“He was so relatable,” Manning said. “Guys would come see Coach Cue from all over the country.  Kids would show up and want him to teach them. He had time for everybody.”

Given time, Cunerty would coach the coaches. “You should sandwich criticism between two praises,” he would say.

Manning now runs the San Juan Hills offense for head coach Rob Frith, who coached Manning at El Toro and played for Cunerty at Saddleback.

“The best thing I can say is that we left practice every day looking forward to the next practice,” Frith said. “He would make it fun. He would single out guys and joke with him, but it was never derogatory. We were intense in getting things done, but he was going to make us enjoy it.”

Later, Cunerty would hold workouts for the clients of agent David Dunn, leading up to NFL drafts. One day he said, “I want you to remember this name: Jimmy Garoppolo.”

For reference, Garoppolo was the fifth QB taken in the 2014 draft behind Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr. Last year, Garoppolo quarterbacked San Francisco in the Super Bowl.

Cunerty was somehow content with all those irons in these regional fires. He could have lived on a Pac-12 or NFL sideline, but he wanted to see his wife, Claudia, “more than twice every six months.” Another reason was the Saddleback driving range. It was right outside his office door.