By Amanda Dyslin
---- — MANKATO — Minnesota State University senior Dennis Carter played football under head coach Todd Hoffner for two seasons.
Carter, who just wrapped up his final season on the team, said he respects Hoffner's passion for the game, although Carter admits he wasn't very personable. Interim head coach/offensive coordinator Aaron Keen, on the other hand, is a “players' coach,” Carter said, meaning he's interested in the players' input and feedback.
Still, Carter said — although Keen is well liked by his players and led the team to 24 victories in 26 games over two seasons — there's no denying Hoffner deserved his job back and has every right to be returning to the head coach position at MSU today.
“He was wrongly accused,” Carter said. “He deserves to be the head coach at MSU.”
Of the few students on the MSU mall Tuesday afternoon who have been following Hoffner's case, all agreed with Carter.
“I feel like he did deserve his job back,” said senior John Stiffin, who added that returning to campus after what he deemed to be maltreatment will be tough. “They didn't come to him at first. They just went straight to practice and took him away from his players.”
Stephanie Fogarty of Arlington, a junior, said she also was surprised by the events that unfolded after Hoffner left the field in August 2012 and was subsequently charged with child pornography for videos on his work cellphone of his naked children. Despite the charges being dismissed, Hoffner was still fired from MSU, and that surprised Fogarty, she said.
While she agrees that coming back to MSU might be tense at first for the coach, she applauds that he's standing up for himself. But Fogarty stops short of saying that justice has been done with Hoffner's reinstatement as head coach.
“I feel like the damage has kind of been done to his reputation,” she said. “He was treated unjustly.”
As for coach Keen, Carter said he's not worried about his future. After performing so well at MSU, Keen'll be in demand if he chooses to leave MSU.
“He was a great coach,” Carter said.