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Published: Saturday, 4/5/2008

Hofher works with QBs at BGSU

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

BOWLING GREEN - A quarterback is generally afforded just a few seconds upon receiving the snap to examine the defense and make an often difficult decision.

Similarly, Gregg Brandon's decision of who would be the next quarterbacks coach at Bowling Green State University was arrived at quickly. But unlike avoiding a pass rush or scouring the field for an open receiver, Brandon's decision was without complication once Jim Hofher's resume landed on his desk.

"I said this is too good to be true that he wants to coach our quarterbacks," Brandon said. "To me it was a no-brainer."

It's not often that people with coaching backgrounds like Hofher's throw their name in the mix for what could be considered a mid-level position. During a much traveled career,

Hofher has spent time as head coach at Buffalo (2001-05) and as quarterbacks coach at Syracuse, North Carolina, Miami of Ohio and Tennessee. A graduate of Cornell, Hofher led his alma mater to a record of 45-35 from 1990-97. He has been out of coaching the past two years.

"If you're in college you're not likely to stay in one place 30 years unless your name is Bowden or Paterno," Hofher said. "We've had our share of moves over the years, and although the transition is always a challenge, we've always looked at it as somewhat of an adventure."

By all accounts, this transition is going well. Hofher arrived in late February to replace the respected Mick McCall who groomed some of the program's best quarterbacks before leaving after last season to become offensive coordinator at Northwestern.

"It's been good work so far," Hofher said. "I'm really impressed with our players. They're a very hard working group of guys that have been fun to watch."

Whereas McCall's teaching was based largely on schemes and recognizing coverages,

Hofher's tutelage delves more into the mechanical aspect of the position. His main objective this spring is to hone the footwork of BG's quarterbacks, most notably returning starter Tyler Sheehan, who made considerable progress under McCall.

"With coach McCall it was a lot of reads and stuff," Sheehan said. "I kind of have that down, so [Hofher] is making me focus on my footwork and introducing some things to make it easier to get the ball out on time.

"He's very wise. You can tell he's an Ivy League guy, you can pick that up from him. I think he's going to help me a lot with my footwork."

Hofher did not beat BG while at Buffalo. For that matter, the Bulls didn't beat hardly anyone under Hofher's watch. He was fired after going 8-49, but it should be noted that Buffalo was a disaster before Hofher took over and didn't become a Division I program until 1999 - two years before his arrival. Hofher recruited many of the key personnel from last year's team that, surprisingly, finished tied atop the Mid-American Conference East.

"I thought he had a tough job there," Brandon said. "He was transitioning that program from I-AA. The guys that they had a decent year with this year he recruited, so you know he can recruit. He knows how to win games. He won a good chunk at Cornell."

Hofher described his relationship with Brandon as "cordial and professional" from when they opposed each other in the MAC. They stayed in contact last year when Hofher, working as an analyst for ESPN, prepared for coverage of BG's games against Miami and Toledo. Hofher called 11 games in 2007 after working three in 2006. In a role he admittedly never envisioned for himself, Hofher soon learned that his new job was not entirely unlike coaching.

"It was a great way to stay involved with college football, to study opponents, to study teams," Hofher said. "There's a speed to broadcasting that's not that much different than the speed of play calling, except you're now reacting to it rather than being able to think ahead. It's similar to what a coach experiences on the sidelines."

Contact Ryan Autullo at:

rautullo@theblade.com.



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