Oct 8, 2016; Stillwater, OK, USA; Iowa State Cyclones Passing Game Coordinator Jim Hofher coaches quarterback Joel Lanning (7) between plays against Oklahoma State Cowboys in the first half at Boone Pickens Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
AMES — Jim Hofher — or “Coach Hof” as he’s called around the Iowa State football team —is a quirky guy.
He showed up for media interviews last fall camp holding a homegrown tomato, which he quickly turned into a tribute to Midwest agriculture.
“I know it’s not big,” Hofher said reverently that August day. “Totally organic, but I’m going to enjoy this thing. This is an homage to all the farmers who work so incredibly hard in the state of Iowa and really across the heartland of America.”
Levity and heartfelt homages aside, Hofher’s most deeply valued for his wide-ranging football smarts. As passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach the past two seasons with the Cyclones, he’s helped a once-moribund offense blossom.
Now he’ll serve in a different role: one that fully taps his wealth of whimsical wisdom.
Friday, ISU announced that Hofher, a former head coach for Cornell of the Ivy League, has become the team’s senior offensive analyst/assistant to the head coach.
It is, in layman’s terms, like moving into the front office. Former offensive analyst Joel Gordon now owns the quarterbacks coach title, but Cyclones head coach Matt Campbell made it quite clear the only titles that matter to him are the ones that come at the end of seasons, not names.
“Everybody kind of understands their role — knows where and how it kind of goes down,” Campbell said. “I think that’s what has allowed us to have success and will continue to allow us to have success. That’s one of the really unique things about us, is we’ve got a lot of really talented young coaches in our program and to be able to bring those guys up from within and to be able to continuer to strengthen our program where needed — even a move like this, it certainly allows us to continue to add great value to our football team.”
Gordon, a record-setting quarterback at Division II Shepherd (W.V.) University, is entering his third year on ISU’s staff.
“I’ve had a chance to see our opponents in our conference,” Gordon said. “I’ve had a chance to learn our offense here and I’ve had a chance to develop relationships with our quarterbacks here. I feel like I’ve got a pretty good idea of who they are — what their strengths are, what their weakness are. And also, offensively what we’ve done. What’s been good to us and where we need to go.”
Gordon said “there’s four good guys” in the quarterbacks room a week out of the first spring practice of the season.
Joel Gordon on what he’s seen from the QBs on the roster in this CFTV. pic.twitter.com/uO5QwAbq5L
— CycloneFanatic.com (@cyclonefanatic) March 9, 2018
Front and center stand senior Kyle Kempt and sophomore Zeb Noland, who likely will duel for the top spot throughout the spring and, perhaps, the fall.
“Everybody in that room, if they got an opportunity to play college football and go practice, it should be a competition every day,” Gordon said.
That’s bedrock to Campbell’s philosophical keystone that dictates that everyone — stars, backups and newcomers alike — should and must compete at all times and at all costs, especially “when no one else is watching.”
Now Hofher has more of a free hand to help drill into that bedrock and reshape it from a more analytical perspective.
“I think more than anything I think it gave Jim an opportunity to give a more worldly view of what we’re doing organizationally,” Campbell said of the shift. “I think he’s going to have the opportunity to — hey, here’s a veteran guy that’s been a head football coach, that with me moving into a little bit more of a role offensively, certainly having the opportunity to impact our program. Not just on the offensive side, but really the entire football program. So I’m really excited about it. Jim brings so much experience and can help us in a multitude of different ways. But (he’ll) certainly continue to be involved with the offensive piece, but just adds some more leadership in other areas of our program.”
Matt Campbell on the decision to promote Joel Gordon and move Jim Hofher into an offensive analyst role in this CFTV. pic.twitter.com/9veHz9FwLI
— CycloneFanatic.com (@cyclonefanatic) March 9, 2018
His voice will remain valued in the offense and defense-specific meetings, as well. Heck, everyone’s is. That’s part of what makes Campbell’s approach to coaching unique. Every single staff member has a voice and is encouraged to use it.
“I think that’s all phases, whether it’s offense, defense, special teams, in the weight room,” Gordon said. “There’s a lot of moving parts in this operation and there’s a lot of really smart people, really good people, really good coaches and why not use everybody that can bring something to the table? There’s just so many good people here and coach Campbell allows that to happen. I think some places, someone like me sitting in that meeting room for the last two years, probably wouldn’t have had a voice. And he allowed me to ask questions every day, make points if I thought I had one or anything. He allows everybody to have a piece in it and that’s part of this culture. And that’s the way it is with the players, as well. That’s kind of what he’s groomed here and that’s huge.”