PHOENIX — Kevin Guy doesn’t hide his feelings and has never shied away from a microphone.
He’s the master at pressing the right button and flashing a fiery temper at times to get his players prepared for the biggest games.
None is bigger than Saturday night, when his undefeated Arizona Rattlers take on the Sioux Falls Storm for the United Bowl championship at Gila River Arena.
But could this be the last for Guy, who also owns the Tucson Sugar Skulls?
The first sign that Guy perhaps was thinking about a life beyond the Rattlers surfaced on June 8 at Talking Stick Resort Arena. In his post-game news conference, he was asked if the following week’s game in Phoenix might be his last in that arena.
“Hmm, that’s a good question,” Guy said.
The Rattlers won’t play in the downtown Phoenix arena for the next two seasons, as the building, first played in by the Rattlers in the summer of 1992, undergoes renovations for the Suns.
It was a bad week for Guy, who had just let out a mic-drop F bomb in a quick after-game interview over the public-address system after his team rallied from three touchdowns down to beat the team he owns, the Sugar Skulls, by a point in overtime.
Earlier in the week, it was announced that a downtown scheduling conflict would force the Rattlers’ two playoff games to Glendale, where the Rattlers lost their only other game ever played there to Philadelphia in their final Arena Football League game in the Arena Bowl in 2016.
Then, there was the prospect of not knowing where the Indoor Football League team would call home the next two seasons — at Gila River Arena or at the Suns’ original arena, Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
It’s been a month since Guy paused when asked about his future with the Rattlers.
Asked the same question earlier this week, Guy said, “If there’s ever a change in my status, Ron Shurts will be the first one to know what I’m doing.”
The Guy-Shurts relationship has been so deeply rooted in trust that Guy goes year to year leading the Rattlers without putting his name to paper.
Since Shurts became majority owner of the Rattlers partway through the 2011 season, the Rattlers have won four championships (three ArenaBowls, one United Bowl) and will appear in their seventh championship game.
“Since I’ve worked for Ron, I’ve never signed a contract,” Guy said. “It’s all been year to year. What’s good for him, what’s good for me. We’ve got a great relationship. I’ve enjoyed working for him the most. We have a good relationship off the field, as well.”
During this decade, Guy has had more success than any Arizona professional sports coach. His record since 2010 with the Rattlers is 150-38, a remarkable .798 winning percentage.
Guy became the fastest coach to get 40 wins in IFL history, getting there in his first three seasons. But he’ll face a coach, Kurtiss Riggs, who has Sioux Falls in the championship game for a 10th consecutive year.
Rattlers quarterback Drew Powell played his first season in the IFL three years ago in Sioux Falls for Riggs. He has seen contrasting coaching approaches work for both men.
“It’s different coaching styles,” Powell said. “Both men have a common goal. They both want to win. I respect both guys.
“Coach Riggs is more of a laid-back type of coach. Coach Guy is not as laid back. He’s a little more fired up, a little more wiry. That’s fun for me. And fun for the guys on the team. He has his guys respond, as well. With both guys, as long as you get the job done, it’s all good.”
‘This is where my focus is’
By now, with his resume built, switching from one league to another with a different set of rules and schemes, Guy has shown versatility and adaptability as a coach in two 50-yard, eight-man pro football leagues.
He has a great eye for talent. His recruiting skills are second to none.
But as other leagues recruit Guy, it might be hard to pry himself out of the Valley — even after he went all in with his wife, Cathy, in the off-season to start a Tucson IFL franchise that nearly became the only team this year to beat his 15-0 Rattlers.
Guy, 46, loves Tucson. But he also has a job to do here, and he’s got kids who are entrenched in the Southeast Valley.
His daughter, Alexa, is heading into her senior year at Gilbert Perry High School, and son, Kody, a talented youth quarterback, is going to be in the seventh grade.
“This is where my focus is,” Guy said of the Rattlers.
“I’ve got kids who are in school. I’m not going to be one of those guys who sacrifices my family life to go chase a football dream. There is no amount of money that is going to shake me from that. I’ve got a responsibility as a parent first that I’m going to complete. Then I’ll look at my options.
“Hey, Ron Shurts has done this for eight, nine years. Let’s see how much longer he wants to do this. We have all those conversations at the end of every year. We go and visit. I get a feel for where he’s at. He gets a feel for where I’m at.”
‘He has a passion for anything he’s doing’
When Guy decided to become an owner in the league this year, Shurts gave him his blessing. The main motivation for Guy was to grow the league — and get the IFL to expand beyond the Midwest.
He also is part of the expansion committee, and has visions of this league continuing to grow and become stronger. There are 10 teams now, up from six last year.
Of the four expansion teams, it was Guy’s Sugar Skulls who had the most success, giving Sioux Falls a tough time in the first round, before losing 50-47.
“KG is a winner, every day at anything he wants to win,” Shurts said. “He has a passion for anything he’s doing.
“We’ll see KG here for a long time.”