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Todd Hoffner announces he will return to Minnesota State-Mankato as head coach

In retrospect, the location told us everything we need to know. Former Minnesota State-Mankato head coach, and current Minot State (N.D.) head coach, announced Tuesday he will return to Mankato and reclaim his job as the Mavericks' head coach in a completely unprecedented situation. The fact that he held his announcement press conference in Minneapolis, 500 miles away from Minot State's campus and only 82 miles northeast of Mankato, was the only clue we needed.

For the uninitiated, here's a one paragraph rundown. Hoffner posted a 34-13 record in four seasons at Mankato, turning around a Mavericks program that went 4-7 in the year prior to his arrival, before he was suspended, fired and ultimately charged with child pornography after MSU officials discovered what they deemed inappropriate photos of Hoffner's children on his cell phone in August 2012. If you'd like a more detailed summary of the situation, ESPN wrote a great profile of the situation in 2013.

The charges were later dropped, and Hoffner was formally cleared of all wrongdoing. Beyond that, though, a Minnesota arbitrator ruled MSU owed Hoffner back pack pay and he was given the right to reclaim his job back. And that's where the situation got complicated.

After winning the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference and the Mineral Water Bowl in 2011, MSU thrived in Hoffner's absence. The Mavericks went 13-1 and won two NCAA Division II playoff games in 2012 and then posted an undefeated regular season in 2013. Time waits for no man, and the Mavericks' team culture evolved - without Hoffner. 

Hoffner was out of football for those two seasons, until Minot State hired him in January. Hoffner was prepared to move forward with the Beavers, until the Minnesota arbitrator gave him the chance to fix what once was broken.

On Tuesday, Hoffner took the arbitrator's offer. He will again become Minnesota State-Mankato's head football coach.

"I have this opportunity to go back, and I believe this is the right thing to do, for my family and myself," Hoffner said in an emotional press conference. "I believe that resuming my duties as head football coach will help heal that injury and put my family, and my family's life, back on track."

It's a choice no coach has ever had to make but, in a vacuum, it was an incredibly simple one. Minnesota State-Mankato is 33-5 over the past three seasons, while Minot State is just 7-25. The programs faced each other in 2012, and Mankato won 44-10. On top of that, Hoffner's family still lives in Mankato. His wife still works in Mankato. Again, this is a simple choice in a vacuum.

But the thing about real life is that choices are never made in a vacuum. Minot State's staff features nine coaches - and six of them are graduate assistants or student assistants. Defensive coordinator Byron Thomas is in his first season on the job and one year away from being a graduate assistant himself. Defensive line coach/strength and conditioning coordinator Chris Brunkhorst is also in his first year on the staff. Run stop coordinator Jeff Miller is in his sixth season at Minot State, but has no experience as a coordinator or head coach. And now they're without a head coach in mid-April.

"This was not an easy decision. I will remain forever grateful to Minot State," Hoffner said. "I have thoroughly enjoyed my short time there, and I wish their program nothing but success."

At Mankato, our speculation here is that interim head coach Aaron Keen will slide back to a role as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach, while current offensive coordinator Jason Eck will handle just the offensive line with a new title perhaps co-offensive coordinator or run game coordinator and no change in pay. Again, this is just our speculation and we'll update when things become more clear. 

Hoffner says his second first day as Minnesota State-Mankato's head coach will be tomorrow. 




Mobile messaging for your team

As a high school coach, there are hundreds of times throughout the year when it would be great to have an easy, mobile based way to email or text your team, their parents or coaches.  

The examples are easy... it's early June and you want to remind the Freshmen and Sophomores about lifting tomorrow morning...or it's gameday and you want to remind the team that you are leaving at 2pm so get to the locker room no later than 1:30...or you want to remind the parents of an important meeting later tonight... etc... 

 Sure there are ways to do some of this with email or painful mass texting from your phone, or using phone trees, or ... well, yeah I guess there are some ways you could do a lot of this; but there really aren't any efficient mobile platforms designed to do all of this with ease like AthletiCloud. 

Messaging

If you're tired of "No I didn't see the tweet" and "C'mon coach, I don't check my email" and really just want to make your life easier, this is a great solution for you. For only $99 / year (which includes the messaging feature, mobile attendance, team manager, "emergency", task manager, team banker, etc...) this is just too good not to use. 

Check it out now, AthletiCloud.com




Organization is going after Dabo's Clemson program for being 'too religious'

Immediately after reading the Greenville News' take on the Freedom From Religion Foundation's criticism of Dabo Swinney and the Clemson program for being too religious, my mind immediately went to every pre- and post-game prayer circle from youth programs, to high school teams, to college programs across the country.

If you haven't read it yet, you should, regardless of your take.

Even though religious participation in the Clemson program is voluntary, the foundation claims that Dabo crosses ethical lines because he is a government employee. According to the foundation, even though participation in religious events is voluntary, it crosses an ethical line because Swinney is technically a government employee.

"He doesn't have the right to do that as a part of his university coaching position," explained foundation staff attorney Patrick Elliott. :There needs to be a complete separation between his religious views and demonstrating that and encouraging that with people under his charge.

"It violates their constitutional rights," he continued. "Coaches have tremendous influence over players. They make decisions on who has scholarships and who plays and what they do."

In broad terms, the foundation (who says that they are the largest association of atheists and agnostics in the nation) ultimately accuses Dabo of "promoting a culture in the program that violates constitutional stipulations of the separation of church and state." To remedy the situation, the organization has recommended that the program get rid of their team chaplain and that the staff and players stop participating in voluntary Bible studies and devotionals.

Does all of this sound absolutely ridiculous to anyone but me? The part that really got me going was the comment from the foundation's lawyer about religion playing a role in who plays and who doesn't in an FBS program. People that actually believe that simply don't have a clue of how things work outside of their small bubble.

I understand there is a fine line between being a coach to a bunch of impressionable 18-23 year old kids and also being their pastor, don't get me wrong, but I highly doubt that Dabo is handing out pocket Bibles in the same hand he's handing out their playbooks. 

Clemson's chief public affairs officer, Cathy Sams, has issued a rebuttal by stating what the vast majority of coaches already understand.

"No one is required to participate in any religious activities related to the football program," Sams said. "It's purely voluntary. Religion and faith is a big part of Coach Swinney's personal beliefs, but it is in no way required. There is no mandatory participation." 

As coaches we can clearly see her viewpoint because her statement embodies how most of us run our programs, conscious of the diverse group of beliefs that make up our team.

Dabo is a smart man - and an excellent coach - who has no issues being vocal about where he stands on the religious spectrum. Players and families understand that during the recruiting process and accept it as a small part of the Clemson program. If he were truly pushing religion as hard as the organization believes that he is we'd see a mass exodus of players transferring from there every year, and that's obviously not the case.

There will obviously be parties in the coaching community passionate about each side of this controversy, but here at The Scoop, we just felt like this was an issue that our audience should be aware of. It's not far fetched to think that something like this could ultimately happen to your program, in one form or another.

Read the full story from the Greenville News here.




Predicting Week 1 of the college football TV schedule

A small piece of news from from Saturday gave us a large clue as to how ESPN plans to fit all the pieces of its Week 1 college football TV schedule together. 

On Saturday, West Virginia noted that its Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game against Alabama is slated for a 3:30 p.m. ET kickoff on ABC. With a number of other big games to be televised by ABC or ESPN that day (Florida State-Oklahoma State, LSU-Wisconsin, Georgia-Clemson, to name three) I think that WVU-Alabama kick off time tells us enough that we can now piece the rest of the schedule together.

Here's how I think the major games of Week 1 will shake out.

For what it's worth, I think GameDay will be in the parking lot at AT&T Stadium to open the season. The defending national champs with the reigning Heisman winner, playing in the stadium where the first College Football Playoff will be decided, is too juicy a storyline for ESPN to pass up. 

All times Eastern. 

Thursday, Aug. 28
Texas A&M at South Carolina - 6 p.m. - SEC Network
Wake Forest at Louisiana-Monroe - 7 p.m. - ESPNU*
Boise State vs. Ole Miss (at Atlanta) - 8 p.m. - ESPN
Temple at Vanderbilt - 9:30 p.m. - SEC Network
Rutgers at Washington State - 10:30 p.m. - ESPNU

Friday, Aug. 29
BYU at Connecticut - 8 p.m. - ESPN
Bowling Green at Western Kentucky - 8 p.m. - ESPNU
UNLV at Arizona - 10 p.m. - Fox Sports 1

Saturday, Aug. 30
Penn State vs. Central Florida (at Dublin, Ireland) - 8:30 a.m. - ESPN2*
Arkansas at Auburn - 12 p.m. - ESPN
Appalachian State at Michigan - 12 p.m. - ESPN2
UCLA at Virginia - 12 p.m. - ABC
Florida Atlantic at Nebraska - 12 p.m. - ESPNU
California at Northwestern - 3:30 p.m. - ESPNU
West Virginia vs. Alabama (at Atlanta) - 3:30 p.m. - ABC*
Rice at Notre Dame - 3:30 p.m. - NBC*
Ohio State at Navy - 3:30 p.m. - CBS Sports Network
Clemson at Georgia - 3:30 p.m. - ESPN
Southern Miss at Mississippi State - 7 p.m. - ESPNU
North Texas at Texas - 7 p.m. - Longhorn Network
Louisiana Tech at Oklahoma - 7 p.m. - Fox Sports 1
LSU vs. Wisconsin - 7:30 p.m. - ESPN
Florida State vs. Oklahoma State (at Arlington, Texas) - 8 p.m. - ABC
Fresno State at USC - 10:30 p.m. - ESPN

Sunday, Aug. 31
Utah State at Tennessee - 7 p.m. - SEC Network*
SMU at Baylor - 8 p.m. - Fox Sports 1

Monday, Sept. 1 
Miami at Louisville - 8 p.m. - ESPN*

* - previously announced

Those are my guesses, what have you got? ESPN has provided the full schedule right here, so give it a gander and come up with your own semi-educated guesses if you're so inclined.  




Video: Division III team holds its own player draft

I don't mean to alarm anyone, but not many Division III football players get picked in the NFL Draft. It'll be a warm day in Antarctica before ESPN sends Todd McShay to cover a Division III pro day. That didn't stop D3 Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology from having its own draft fun, though.

The Fightin' Engineers got together and held their own draft last spring, and then did it again last week. Coaches don't have to fret about getting buy-in from their players when they're already holding their own player draft. That's the type of commitment every coach would love to have. 

"Having a former player of mine continuing his success at Rose is truly a blessing, and I will continue to suggest to my current players and their families that they take a serious look at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology when searching for a college," Sean MacWilliams told FootballScoop. "I urge all high school coaches that have players interested in Math, Science, or Engineering to recommend Rose-Hulman."

The defending Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference champions, the Terre Haute, Ind., school is already successful in its own type of draft. The Rose-Hulman football program enjoys a 100 percent job placement rate within six months of graduation with an average starting salary of $63,000 a year. 




Every DFO is going to want to read this today

A year ago, I attended the annual Directors of Football Operations national meeting. In two days of sitting in that Fort Worth hotel ballroom, the most prolonged, most passionate discussion was the DFO's collective frustration at the NCAA's arcane rules for feeding athletes. DFOs from schools around the country expressed their frustration at not being able to feed their athletes when they have the means to do so. Many that spoke up wanted to feed their entire rosters (scholarship and walk-on players) three meals a day for 365 days a year, but the NCAA wouldn't let them.

That might change soon, and DFOs have Connecticut guard Shabazz Napier to thank for it. "There are hungry nights that I go to bed and I'm starving," Napier said following the Huskies' national championship win last week. The comment went viral, and now the NCAA is prepared to do something about it.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the NCAA Division I Legislative Council will meet Tuesday to consider a proposal permitting schools to feed their athletes "pretty much whenever and wherever they want." 

The Journal points to the example of George Washington University, an urban school without many on-campus dining option. Players can leave campus with their school-issued meal card, but it doesn't last the entire semester. The school asked the NCAA for permission to build an athletes-only dining hall, but the NCAA denied it.

This is the world the NCAA has been living in, but that's about to change. The stomachs of student-athletes across the nation will thank them. 

Read the full article here.

PM Update: The NCAA has altered their training table policy, allowing for unlimited meals and snacks for scholarship players and walk-ons in conjunction with their athletic participation.

From the NCAA release:

Division I student-athletes can receive unlimited meals and snacks in conjunction with their athletics participation, the Legislative Council decided Tuesday.  The rule, which applies to walk-ons as well as scholarship student-athletes, is an effort to meet the nutritional needs of all student-athletes.

The provision of meals approved today is in addition to the meal plan provided as part of a full scholarship. Prior to this change, scholarship student-athletes received three meals a day or a food stipend.

Council chair Mary Mulvenna, associate commissioner of the America East Conference, said Tuesday’s decisions underscored the commitment to student-athletes.

“Today we took action to provide meals to student-athletes incidental to participation,” Mulvenna said. “I think the end result is right where it needs to be.”

More changes were also announced Tuesday. See the full list here.




Video: Inside the Illinois QB battle and their spring ball draft

Illinois decided to engage their fan base this off season by cracking their quarterback competition wide open and having camera crews embedded with each of the three guys battling it out.

The latest installment takes place just before their orange and blue spring game, and includes some good coaching points from Bill Cubit during practice before stretching into their annual spring ball draft with the seniors and coaching staff compiling the teams.

With just three scholarship quarterbacks available, and one of them being senior Reilly O'Toole (who helped draft his team), the first pick of the draft, which belonged to O'Toole's team, was fellow quarterback Wes Lunt. That left Aaron Bailey the only other scholarship quarterback available for the Orange team. Great strategy considering Lunt threw for over 1,000 yards and completed 61% of his passes while starting a handful of games for Oklahoma State.\

These episodes have had quite a bit of time in between each of them, but it's always a great idea to provide fans and recruits a peek like this inside of the program. Really looking forward to the season finale.




Video: 'Big man' 7-on-7

Who doesn't love watching a big man 7-on-7?

Here, the Angelo State offensive line take on the defensive line. Some of these guys can move pretty well, and they even try to pull off some trickeration at about the 30 second mark, but the offensive line's ability to swivel their hips and break on the ball was sorely underestimated.

Notice that both teams looks like they're running lots of zone coverage...wouldn't want any one-on-one mismatches out there.