I don’t know what Tom Batiuk is reaching for here, but it is clear it exceeds his grasp.
Supposedly, Bull is suffering from memory loss, yet he seems to recall clearly what Coach Stropp’s last instructions to him were. I guess it’s a good thing Bull never got fired, or crushed in a car accident when he stormed off a while ago. The urn would have just sat there atop the lockers until someone just happened to spot it. “Say, what’s that up there?” “Dunno, looks like garbage.” “I guess we should throw it away.” Again, Tom Batiuk wants Bull to have a debilitating condition, but has no idea how to portray that. It comes and goes when it’s convenient, when it can be used for pity. Then it disappears until its next cue.
As for why we are now focusing on someone unseen in the strip for years (aside from a very brief appearance last September–of course, as a Les flashback), I have no idea. It’s not like anyone really cares about the characters abandoned when Act I became Act II. Tom Batiuk doesn’t seem to care about them. Boy howdy, does he not care about them: as BillyTheSkink noted yesterday, this seems to say quite openly that Coach Stropp had no family, or a family that hated him. There isn’t an another interpretation that looks good for ol’ Stropp.
My assumption is that this is supposed to be a poignant moment here. It fails.