April 19: Hoffner eases back into MSU football job with low profile

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 15, 2014 - 9:48 PM

Players were receptive to the reinstated coach, who reconnected with supporters during practice.


Minnesota State Mankato coach Todd Hoffner mostly observed practice Friday — a role that was ideal for his transition.

Photo: DAVID JOLES • djoles@startribune.com,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

He hadn’t slept much on Wednesday night, after the turmoil of his first day back at Minnesota State Mankato. Todd Hoffner rested much easier before a fresh start dawned on Friday, but his 10-year-old son, Brady, couldn’t wait to get him out the door.

“I actually got a chance to sleep in,’’ the Mavericks football coach said. “But the kids didn’t have school, and they came in and jumped on the bed. And my son said, ‘Get to work.’ ’’

Hoffner laughed about that exchange on Friday afternoon, as he watched from the sidelines during his team’s practice. Getting back to work as MSU’s football coach is all Hoffner has wanted to do for the past 20 months, since he was suspended and later fired by the university. After a false start Wednesday, when his players refused to practice following his reinstatement, Hoffner stood in the sunshine and quietly got reacquainted with the business of building a team.

The Mavericks concluded their third week of spring practice Friday under coach Aaron Keen, who led them in Hoffner’s absence and remained the man in charge on the field. With the spring game a week from Saturday, Hoffner said he will be content to observe during his first days back at the helm of the program. That didn’t diminish his satisfaction in being outfitted again in a purple windbreaker and the title of Mavericks head coach.

“No transition in a situation like this is going to be perfect,’’ Hoffner said. “But it’s a great opportunity for me to evaluate, assess and observe. Those are three things I really want to accomplish in spring ball.

“These young men have been through a lot. I think they have a lot of resolve. They have tremendous leadership, and I’m excited to be part of everything that’s going on. I really wanted to continue into the future and hope to make it better.’’

Hoffner was removed as coach in August 2012 after videos of his naked children were discovered on his university-issued cellphone. Charges related to the incident were dropped when a judge ruled the images were innocent play, but the school still fired him the following May.

An arbitrator last week ordered him reinstated as coach. Hoffner resigned from the head coaching job at Minot State, which he accepted in January, and announced Tuesday he would return to the Mavericks. The players refused to take the field Wednesday for what would have been his first practice, saying they wanted Keen to remain as coach; after Hoffner assured them he would adapt to the program’s “shift in culture’’ under Keen, the team welcomed him back and resumed practice Friday.

Keen will remain with the program as associate head coach. While he ran Friday’s workout, Hoffner greeted Mavericks boosters and football alumni, getting an enthusiastic hug from former athletic trainer Gordy Graham as he approached the practice field. Hoffner also was seen talking with recruits and showing them the stadium.

Player spokesman Sam Thompson said Thursday the team did not mean to undermine Hoffner by not practicing Wednesday. But players wanted to air their concerns about his return, and they hoped to establish better communication. Senior defensive lineman Barry Ballinger agreed that the players could have handled the situation better, but he was confident there will be no lingering hard feelings.

“People came out here with no negativity, having fun, with smiles on their faces, just like we did on Monday,’’ he said. “We sat down and talked as players, and what it comes down to is just getting out here and playing football.

“Hopefully, it’s going to run smoothly. We’ve just got to stick together through all this stuff.’’

Hoffner said he was excited to resume work with a team that went 24-2 during his two seasons away. He had set the stage for its success, compiling a 34-13 record in four seasons before Keen took over as interim head coach.

The Mavericks finished 11-1 last fall and were ranked No. 1 in NCAA Division II when the season ended with a loss to St. Cloud State in the playoffs. Hoffner said he may spend the spring game mingling with supporters in the stands, reconnecting with the many people who stood by him through his hard times.

This fall, Brady will get to work, too, as a ball boy for his father’s program. That thought — of his son beginning a life on the sidelines, and of himself resuming his place there — brought Hoffner another smile on a day full of them.

“It’s awesome,’’ Hoffner said of the backing he has received. “But it’s always about the players. The goal is to be national champions, and that’s something we don’t want to waver from. Whatever it takes to get there, that’s what we’re going to do.’’


  • related content

  • Arbitrator criticizes MSU-Mankato in his report

    Friday April 18, 2014

    An arbitrator’s 72-page report regarding the case of coach Todd Hoffner harshly admonished the school for its actions.

  • Players left the MSU practice field more at peace than they were Wednesday, when they protested Todd Hoffner’s return. “People came out here with no negativity, having fun, with smiles on their faces,” the Mavs’ Sam Thompson said.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Cincinnati 0 Top 3rd Inning
Pittsburgh 0
Minnesota 0 Top 3rd Inning
Baltimore 0
NY Yankees 0 Top 3rd Inning
Toronto 0
Philadelphia 0 Top 3rd Inning
NY Mets 0
Boston 3 Top 2nd Inning
Tampa Bay 0
Miami 0 Top 1st Inning
Atlanta 0
Cleveland - D. Salazar 7:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Vargas
Detroit - J. Verlander 7:10 PM
Chicago WSox - S. Carroll
Texas - S. Baker 7:10 PM
Houston - B. Oberholtzer
Chicago Cubs - K. Hendricks 7:15 PM
St. Louis - S. Miller
Colorado - C. Bergman 8:40 PM
Arizona - J. Collmenter
Oakland - J. Lester 9:05 PM
LA Angels - J. Weaver
Los Angeles - D. Haren 9:10 PM
San Diego - A. Cashner
Washington - J. Zimmermann 9:10 PM
Seattle - F. Hernandez
Milwaukee - W. Peralta 9:15 PM
San Francisco - R. Vogelsong
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 FINAL
ULM 17
Boise State 13 FINAL
(18) Ole Miss 35
Tulane 31 FINAL
Tulsa 38
Rutgers 41 FINAL
Washington St 38
Weber State 14 FINAL
(19) Arizona State 45
Temple 37 FINAL
Vanderbilt 7
BYU 14 1st Qtr 3:59
Connecticut 0
(6) Jacksonville St 0 1st Qtr 11:57
(8) Michigan State 7
Bowling Green 0 1st Qtr 14:54
Western Ky 0
TX-San Antonio 8:00 PM
Colorado State 8:00 PM
UNLV 9:30 PM
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Houston 7:00 PM
Sporting Kansas City
Ottawa 0 14:50
Montreal 0
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota 9:00 PM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters


Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pm
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pm
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. TBA
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA




question of the day

Poll: Grade the Gophers in their season opener

Weekly Question