February 1st, 2015

First day of school

If I liked football, I think this would be exciting...

Without active program, Hofstra still has some Super ties

By Zach Braziller

January 31, 2015 | 12:47am
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Without active program, Hofstra still has some Super ties
Dan Quinn (left) and Kyle Arrington were part of the Hofstra football program. Photo: AP; Getty Images

It has been more than five years since Hofstra dropped its football program after 72 years of competition, stunning alumni, athletes, coaches and fans, yet Sunday, when the sport’s game of the year kicks off, the Long Island school will be well represented.

Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, a hot head-coaching candidate, and Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington, both credit part of their development to the time they spent at Hofstra. Quinn was an assistant coach from 1996-2000 while Arrington played from 2004-07 before going undrafted.

They are just part of the Hofstra fraternity in the NFL, joined by, among others, offensive lineman Willie Colon, Saints wide receiver Marques Colston, Redskins defensive lineman Stephen Bowen and former Jets star Wayne Chrebet.

“We’re the last of a dying breed,” Arrington said. “It’s like you’re in a select club. We reach out to each other all the time. It’s cool, in a sense, to know that we’re it, but, on the flip side, it’s a sad feeling as well.”

When Quinn heard the program was dropped, “I was so bummed,” he said.

Quinn learned a lot in his time there, however. He was on a staff with former Buccaneers coach and Falcons defensive backs coach Raheem Morris, Broncos defensive backs coach Joe Woods and Rutgers coach Kyle Flood under head man Joe Gardi, who passed away in 2010.

“It was a fun group of guys and we had a terrific coach in Joe Gardi,” Quinn said. “He knew how to evaluate players and coaches, too. He did a good job bringing us together. We had a blast together.

“It was a really important time for me.”

Devale Ellis, who played briefly in the NFL after graduating from Hofstra in 2006, will have pride when he sees Arrington, his college teammate, on the field. Arrington is looking to follow in the footsteps of Colon and Colston, Hofstra players to win it all.

“It would be great to see Kyle get his ring,” Ellis said. “I’m not surprised he made it, to be honest. His story is a lot like a lot of us who came through Hofstra. Dan Quinn, Greg Gigantino, Dave Brock were really good at finding talent underdeveloped and turning them into pros.”

But Ellis also will have anger.

“Every time I go back there it makes me sick to stomach,” he said. “There’s something all of the guys say, ‘They can’t take what we were.’ We were constantly in the nationally championship picture, constantly a top 25 team, and we always put out pros. They’ll never be able to take that back.”

Nevertheless, there are no plans to bring the program back. School president Stuart Rabinowitz said at the time the program was dropped because of costs and waning interest. Hofstra didn’t make Rabinowitz or athletic director Jeff Hathaway available, but said in a statement Hofstra is “quite proud” of Arrington and Quinn.

Kamal Roy, a wide receivers coach who was recruiting in Florida at the time the sad news broke, isn’t as angry as Ellis. Roy said he still feels tremendous pride about the school, particularly the football program, and will be tuned in Sunday night with a smile on his face.

“It will be a win-win,” Roy said. “Dan Quinn will get a ring or Kyle will get a ring.”

— Additional reporting by Paul Schwartz and Brian Costello