Remember back in August of 2012 when Todd Hoffner, the head coach at Minnesota State-Mankato (D-II) was suspended based on photos of his children that were misinterpreted? Hoffner was later cleared of all charges, and he landed the head coaching job at Minot State (D-II - ND) this off-season.
To make matters even more interesting, an arbitrator handed down a ruling yesterday in favor of coach Hoffner, stating that he's not only due back pay, but he can also have his old job back if he wants it.
Wait, what? Go ahead and read that again.
Has anything like this ever happened before in the coaching profession? A coach has the opportunity to leave his current head coaching position for his old stomping grounds, no questions asked?
Most people would probably assume that coach Hoffner would never go back to Mankato, call it bad blood or being unjustly accused, most people wouldn't want to go back to that kind of environment after the ordeal him and his family went through.
However, the bottom line is that Mankato is a heck of a job, a great place to live, his family wouldn't have to uproot and move, and his wife wouldn't have to start a new job hunt in an unfamiliar town. Plus, Hoffner helped build the MSU-Mankato program to national relevance during his time there by going 34-13 in his four seasons, and winning multiple conference titles. Oh, and his wife stated yesterday that a return to Mankato is something that they're currently considering. This has the potential to be unprecedentedly awkward.
If Hoffner does decide to come back to MSU-Mankato, what happens to current head coach Aaron Keen and the staff currently in place? They've done an outstanding job, going 24-2 over the past two seasons, including a trip to the D-II national semifinals in 2012, which qualifies as the best season in school history.
Too often in life, someone's entire life is unjustly broken and those responsible for breaking that life simply can't or won't put the pieces back together. Credit the arbitrator in this instance for trying to right this wrong. But no one, not the arbitrator and not Coach Hoffner, can stop the passage of time, and the simple fact that dozens of lives on each coaching staff will be affected by the decision Hoffner now faces.
We'll keep you updated on how this one plays out. Either way, Hoffner is the one in the driver's seat, and that's the way that it should be when you consider what him and his family have gone through over the past two years.