Hofher may be UT darkhorse

As Tennessee head football coach Phillip Fulmer continues his quest to fill four vacancies on his offensive staff, there's a somewhat forgotten name from the past that might come into play.

That would be Jim Hofher. He was Johnny Majors' quarterback coach at Tennessee in 1989, when Fulmer was in his first year as the Vols' offensive coordinator. Under Hofher's direction, quarterbacks Sterling Henton and Andy Kelly helped the Vols bounce back from a 5-6 season in '88 to go 11-1 in '89. That squad shared the Southeastern Conference title, posted a Cotton Bowl defeat of Arkansas and finished with a No. 5 national ranking.

Hofher left after one season in Knoxville to become head coach at his alma mater, Cornell. He went 44-36 in eight seasons there, during which his teams set 169 program records. He won more Ivy League games (35) than any coach in Cornell history and posted the best league winning percentage (35-25 ... 58.3) of any head man in program history.

Hofher then said goodbye to the Big Red and rejoined the major-college ranks. He served as passing game coordinator at North Carolina for two years (1998-99) and as quarterbacks coach at Syracuse for one year (2000).

When he accepted the head coaching reins at Buffalo in 2001, the school's athletic website posted some flattering comments about him from several notables in the football world. Included was a ringing endorsement from Fulmer, who was just three years removed from a national title at UT.

"Jim Hofher is one of the finest football coaches I have ever had the pleasure to be associated with. He has outstanding organizational skills, is a master at the X and O part of the game, and yet the best thing about him is he is a great person."

Hofher wasn't good enough with the Xs and Os to elevate the Bulls to a competitive level, however. Assuming command in Year 3 of Buffalo's transition from NCAA Div. 1-AA to Div. 1-A, he went 8-49 over the next five years. He was fired in 2005 when his final team went 1-10 and was outscored 327-110.

Hofher tried to get back into coaching but found no opportunities to his liking. As a result, he has been doing color commentary on college telecasts for Fox Sports Net and ESPN among others.

Prior to joining the Tennessee staff in 1989, Hofher served on staffs at Miami (Ohio), Wake Forest and Syracuse.

Is he a longshot to wind up back at Tennessee? Yes. But he has a Vol pedigree and he obviously has Fulmer's respect. That makes him an intriguing darkhorse candidate, at the very least.

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