With Notre Dame just one season into Mike Denbrock’s tenure as offensive coordinator, Brian Kelly didn’t look like he was in the market for a new offensive coordinator. But in Mike Sanford, Kelly (and Denbrock) found a coach worth making room for.
Just a season removed from coordinating Boise State’s offense to a Fiesta Bowl victory, Sanford now takes on a far more scrutinized job. He’ll coach both the Irish quarterbacks and coordinate the offense, working in lockstep with Denbrock to revitalize an offense that scored plenty of points but finished 101st in the country in turnovers.
So enter Sanford, who Kelly expects will have a significant impact on the offense.
“We were looking for was somebody that could turn the room upside down,” Kelly explained. “We didn’t want somebody to be equal. We wanted somebody that was going to turn that room upside down, that was that good. We weren’t going to settle for somebody that was on the same plane. We wanted somebody that was going to challenge us on a day‑to‑day basis. Mike does that.”
2015 — Notre Dame, Offensive Coordinator, Quarterbacks
2014 — Boise State, Offensive Coordinator, Quarterbacks
2011-13 — Stanford, Recruiting Coordinator (’12-13), QBs/WRs (’13) RBs (’11-12)
2010 — Western Kentucky, Passing Game Coordinator, Quarterbacks
2009 — Yale, Recruiting Coordinator, Tight Ends and Fullbacks
2007-08 — Stanford, Offensive Assistant, Quarterbacks
2005-06 — UNLV, Offensive Graduate Assistant
On developing his offensive philosophy:
“The biggest thing that I’ve found is that championship football a lot of time comes down to who runs the football the best and then who makes the explosive plays down the field in the throwing game. I think the Stanford background combined with being in the spread offense and the ability to run the quarterback and what that does in terms of man-to-man coverage defense teams, a lot of them don’t account for the quarterback.
“That’s had a big imprint on me and then this past year at Boise State, having a chance to be a part of a championship football team that ran the football well, had good balance. I think the hallmark of Boise State offenses has been running the football and having explosive, creative offensive schemes. That’s what I think we were able to get done this year.”
On returning to South Bend:
“I think, first off, there was a comfort level with this area, this community and with this program. I had a chance to live here and some of my fondest memories of my insane childhood that consisted of about 11 moves, some of my best memories were here in the Michiana region. I really enjoyed every aspect of living here.
“I enjoyed the heck out of Notre Dame football and there’s just something that’s different about this program, about Notre Dame, than any other place that I’ve been a part of. I absolutely loved it as a high school student. I also had a chance to see it first-hand five times in the Notre Dame-Stanford rivalry and each time we played against Notre Dame when the band would come down and you hear the Victory March, I get goose bumps even as an opposing coach.
“I love this place. I love the types of scholar-athletes you have a chance to recruit. When you’re sitting in a living room, you can offer a young man a chance to be a part of the best tradition and best football program in college football, but also a top 15 education and you’re going to leave with a great degree. I think that’s a powerful thing when you’re sitting in a living room in the recruiting process.”
Here’s Sanford’s Intro Video from UND.com: