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COLLEGE FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: D-II Minnesota State football coach facing child porn charges; Auburn looks to replacing dying Toomer's Corner oaks; Ga. Southern ranked No. 3 to start season

Head football coach Todd Hoffner won't be leading Minnesota State back to the D-II playoffs this season after being charged with two counts of child pornography and being placed on administrative leave.

Head football coach Todd Hoffner won't be leading Minnesota State back to the D-II playoffs this season after being charged with two counts of child pornography and being placed on administrative leave.

MANKATO, Minn. — The head football coach at Minnesota State, Mankato, was charged late Wednesday with two counts related to child pornography after authorities said they found nude images of children on his cellphone.

Todd Hoffner, 46, was charged with one count of using minors in a sexual performance or pornographic work, and one count of possessing child pornography. Both are felonies.

Police began investigating last week after a university official went to them with three videos of children that were said to be on Hoffner’s work-issued cellphone, according to the complaint filed in the case.

Hoffner’s attorney, Jim Fleming, said his client intends to fight the charges and will be pleading not guilty at a later date. He had no further comment.

The complaint said Hoffner brought his university-issued cellphone to school officials earlier this month because it wasn’t working properly. Hoffner was given a new one and was told technicians would retrieve videos and pictures from his old phone for him.

A technician came across the videos while going through the data and police were contacted.

Hoffner is on leave and a university investigation is pending.

Hoffner is entering his fifth year as head football coach. He led the team to the playoffs in 2008 and 2009 and a share of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference title in 2011.

He has a 34-13 record at Minnesota State, Mankato, and was named NSIC coach of the year in 2009.


AUBURN TREES SLOWLY DYING, WILL BE REPLACED:

AUBURN, Ala. — Its landmark oaks all but dead 18 months after a University of Alabama fan was arrested on charges of poisoning them, Auburn University has laid out a plan for replacing the trees at Toomer’s Corner and said work could begin as early as March.

A report issued by the school said bare branches lacking leaves will continue to die, leaving the two trees aesthetically dead if not actually dead.

“The long-term outlook for the trees is not good,” the report said.

The study, released last Friday after experts assessed the trees’ health following a recent pruning, said a preservation committee will make a report to the university’s president soon on whether to continue trying to save the trees or replace them. The replacement process wouldn’t begin for six months at the earliest, and it could be as far as 18 months away.

For now, fans will be able to continue the Auburn tradition of rolling the trees with toilet paper after big football victories. But that could change temporarily if more big branches die and have to be removed as a safety precaution, the report said.

The trees will likely be replaced with overcup oaks, a type of slow-growing white oak, said the report.

Work could begin as early as mid-March if officials decide to replace the poisoned trees with nursery-grown oaks; the process could extend to 18 months if officials decide to use larger oaks transplanted from the landscape.

Alabama fan Harvey Updyke is charged with poisoning the trees with a potent herbicide during Auburn’s national championship run in the 2010 football season, which included a 28-27 win over the archrival Crimson Tide.

Updyke has pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect to charges that include criminal mischief and desecrating a venerable object.


GEORGIA SOUTHERN STARTS NO. 3 IN FCS POLL:

STATESBORO - In the inaugural FCS Coaches Poll of the 2012 season, Georgia Southern was ranked third behind North Dakota State and Sam Houston State.

The Eagles, who received one first-place vote, return eight starters on offense and eight on defense from the 2011 squad. A year ago GSU won their ninth Southern Conference Championship and advanced to their second-straight FCS Semifinals after an 11-3 season.

Reigning FCS champion North Dakota State received 19 first place votes while finalist Sam Houston State received six.

Fellow SoCon members Appalachian State and Wofford were ranked fifth and 13th, respectively.

The Colonial Athletic Association had the most ranked teams with six, followed by the Missouri Valley with five teams.

The FCS Coaches Poll is based exclusively on a voting panel of head coaches in the FCS under the cooperation of the Collegiate Commissioners Association (CCA) and the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) and is administered by the Southern Conference.