There were radio duties for a couple of days last week in Mankato. The emphasis was on the Vikings and the fantastically unpredictable offense being installed by wily Norv Turner, and the magnificent concepts being taught by Mike Zimmer and his defensive helpers, but there was also an interview of some length with Todd Hoffner.
This is by far the most-interesting football occurrence that will take place in August on the practice fields at Minnesota State Mankato:
It is the full return as head coach for Hoffner, two years after being hung out to dry by paranoid MSU Mankato administrators, foolish Blue Earth County investigators and a national media crazed in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State.
I had talked to Hoffner once previously after a game against Concordia in St. Paul a few years ago. So it is only an impression to say that you can note the damage done to Hoffner in his eyes. For sure, you can detect that damage in his cautious demeanor.
Hoffner lost some points on the compassion meter in mid-April, when the arbitrator ruled in his favor and he promptly left a job at Minot State after 2 ½ months to return to Mankato.
“I appreciate what [athletic director] Rick Hedberg and Minot State did for me, but Mankato has become our home,’’ Hoffner said. “This is where my family wanted to be.’’
There was a one-day boycott by MSU Mankato players when Hoffner reclaimed his job. It was the athletes’ show of support for Aaron Keen, the assistant who ascended to Hoffner’s job in August 2012 and led the Mavericks to a 24-2 record in two seasons.
The players returned the next day. Keen left in May to be an assistant at Eastern Michigan. And now the Mavericks will assemble on Aug. 13 with the expectation of another strong season.
“We have St. Cloud State here on Sept. 4 … Thursday night against the Huskies,’’ Hoffner said. “Can’t think of a more-interesting way to start a new season.’’
For Todd Hoffner and MSU Mankato, a season so new it’s hard to fathom that the reunion is taking place.
PLUSTHREE FROM PATRICK
My Gophers watch list:
Maxx Williams, TE. This redshirt sophomore will be the Gophers’ next consensus All-America, and an early departee for the 2016 NFL Draft.
Eric Murray, CB. A Gophers’ cornerback who actually can cover. Sometimes, your eyes seem to be lyin’.
Zac Epping, LG. Fifth-year senior, big, mobile, and meaner than a rattlesnake in springtime.