Pancevo Panthers: The Apple That Fell Far From The Tree

Season 2015 looks promising within every league in Europe. In most countries rules are changing to 2 imports on the field, and teams are finally able to bring American coaches. That's exactly what Pancevo Panthers of Serbia did.

Before we dive into this almost unbelievable story, we as TDEU want to clear up one thing – we have been at Panthers games on numerous occasions in the past couple of years and we got nothing but kind words about the Board, Staff and Players. A great family-oriented organization, neutral when it comes to politics, focuses on the sport and most importantly, helping whenever they can to grow football.

In order to step up to the plate and be a serious threat for the title, Panthers brought 2 imports and an American coach whose grandfather is about to enter a Hall of Fame in The States. Sometimes, having a line of coaches in the family doesn't necessarily mean that the “Apple doesn't fall far from the tree”.

Panthers, now former HC, Cory Hoopingarner, came in, started working with the team, but, right before the season – he left. And, never came back. And not just that. It also affected the QB, Jordan Moore, who left before the HC, but, more about that later in the article.

We reached out to Panthers president, Ivan Kosanovic, who surely wasn't happy with the current situation, BUT, he's picking up the pieces, re-organizing things with the rest of the board and staff. Mr Kosanovic shared the timeline of how things went down.

This year is the first year for our team to hire an American coach, in order to advance our organization with someone who can solely devote his time to the team, players, and coaches. That's when we started talking to Coach Cory Hoopingarner. Coach arrived in January, and started looking for imports. We managed to sign Timothy Bishop (LB), who's also someone Coach knows in person (before the arrival). Next, we needed a QB. We found a young, athletic QB, Jordan Moore, who arrived in February. We thought that's a wrap and that we're all set for the season.

In the following weeks I was getting feedback from the coaches that everything is going according to the plan. There was no need to worry about anything. However, just one week after our QB arrived, situation started changing. Jordan suddenly decides to leave, although, we as a team provided what was asked from us – apartment and accommodation. We still needed to take care of his gear, but that would get taken care of in the following days. We weren't sure why did he leave!

Coach Cory was the center of this whole situation, since Jordan claimed that he didn't have the best relationship with the HC. We didn't believe his story at the time, and we gave our full support to the HC. We had to start looking for the new QB. We were losing hope we'll find a decent replacement. But, luckily, we managed to sign Sean Frezell.

At one point, our HC decides he will go back to The States for a quick surgery, as he figured it will be easier and cheaper to do it in his hometown. Before he left, he promised he will be back within the next 10 days and, he decided to not receive his salary the following month, so we could reimburse the expense of bringing in Jordan. (Before that, he received the first 2 salaries).

All of a sudden, after long gone, Cory is starting to avoid our calls, messages. He wasn't reaching out to us as much as he used to when he got back home. It went into complete lack of communication. Just silence. We started to realize we have lost our HC! We had a practice with Belgrade SBB Vukovi on March 21st, and, we had no support from our HC! Not even a call, or a message to ask about his players and how they did!

Now, just a few days before the season, our board realizes that this has been one big show, or,

better to say – a SCAM! We have sent an official e-mail to Cory with just one question - “Are you coming back?”. Of course, we haven't received a response.

I'd also like to add that Cory supposedly did head to Serbia after the surgery, but that after landing in Frankfurt, he took a new flight back home as he told us – his mother got sick. Those are the info we have received from him.

In addition to all of that, to spice things up a bit as everyone loves a good story, even before the HC arrived, I was introduced by him (Cory), to a reporter D. P. (full name known to TDEU), who is supposedly a part of the crew that's shooting a documentary about Cory's family under the title “Football Family”. Cory is the 4th generation of coaches in his family. His grandfather is supposed to be inducted in the college Hall of Fame this year. We exchanged couple e-mails with the reporter, sent him information about the team, photos, city etc. We got the confirmation the team will also receive a financial donation for participating in the project. The reporter said that he and the crew would arrive in April to spend some time with the team and shoot for the documentary. Of course, any contact with the reporter stops once Cory left for The States. I couldn't leave it alone, and on couple occasions I tried reaching out to the reporter in order to get answers on what's going on. I even received information that Cory was complaining to one of my coaches that I'm bothering the reporter. I gave up there.

So, now, our HC is nowhere to be found. Our imports are here. Timothy, the LB, is disappointed in Cory, he feels betrayed.

We as a team will do everything to overcome this situation. We have our first game of the season in a bit, and that's what we're focusing on. This is where I'm drawing the line. We just wanted what's best for our players. We wanted them to experience working with an American coach, but that won't happen this year. However, imports and our domestic coaches are doing a tremendous job. And, Cory Hoopingarner turned out to be one of the best scammers who played with the trust and hospitality of the whole team. - says Pancevo Panthers president, Ivan Kosanovic.

Now, we knew we had to reach out to Jordan Moore, as we weren't getting any response from Cory Hoopingarner. Luckily, Jordan was straight up ready to talk to us and we're bringing his statement in full:

From the time I got there, the head coach was saying how he hated being there and how he doesn't like the team because it's not like in The States. I kept telling him that you can't come overseas with those expectations because football in new. He kept saying he was going to leave soon and he would even tell his girlfriend back home.

So one day after practice he said and I quote: "Man, I hate it here, I'm leaving Jordan. You should just go ahead and get out of here". He was talking so much mess about the team and I just pretty much cosigned with him, so he could shut the hell up. He was dead serious about leaving and I didn't want to be out there alone, so he told me to buy my flight home and I did. He said he was going to tell the team some excuse to why I left.

He ended up leaving the apartment only to tell the president that I was leaving. The president message me asking why am I leaving, and I told him the reason why. Coach told him that he never said he was leaving and that I was the one saying that I hated being there.

The president came to my apartment and the coach was outside. I told the president to tell the coach to come inside so we could see who was telling the truth but he didn't want to. So they just believe him. I was pissed off because I love my teammates there and coach just got one over on me.

And the thing was I got a round trip ticket because I was going to come back on that following Tuesday. But, when everyone started threatening me and talking shit about me I decided not to go back. I didn't want to play for Cory because he's a liar.
- says Jordan Moore, who recently signed with a team in Brazil.

We prepared this article 2 weeks ago. Right now, season has started for the Panthers who are 2-0, and Moore is getting ready to go to Brazil. Coach is still nowhere to be found.