Just days after losing Tony Alford, it looks like Brian Kelly is making a large move on his offensive coaching staff.
Multiple reports have Boise State offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Sanford joining Notre Dame’s offensive staff. First reported by Steve Wiltfong at 247 Sports, Sanford will reportedly be taking the offensive coordinator job, per Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman.
In just one week since Signing Day, Notre Dame’s offensive staff has transformed. After losing Alford to Ohio State and quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur to the Atlanta Falcons, Kelly has reportedly added former top assistant Jeff Quinn, who was fired as Buffalo’s head coach seven games into last season. His role is still to be determined.
While most kept an eye on hiring a running backs coach, Sanford’s hiring — especially if it’s as offensive coordinator — would be a big change. Last month, Sanford interviewed with Urban Meyer, and then chose to stay with the Broncos. At 32, Sanford is viewed as one of the best young minds in college football, with Boise State’s offense ranking ninth in scoring last season, on their way to a 12-2 finish and a Fiesta Bowl victory over Arizona.
Sanford has roots on the West Coast, spending three seasons as an assistant at Stanford, likely a key to recruiting California. His father, Mike Sanford Sr., is the head coach at Indiana State, served as a head coach at UNLV and coordinated Gary Andersen‘s offense at Utah State. He also served as Urban Meyer’s offensive coordinator at Utah in 2003 and 2004, when the Utes went 21-2.
Sanford was a quarterback himself at Boise State from 2000-04. He served as Stanford’s recruiting coordinator and coached and coordinated recruiting efforts at Yale, so he knows how to work at a school with high academic standards.
There is nothing official out of South Bend, with the university’s HR process notoriously thorough. While most expected the next hire to be a running backs coach–likely former Irish running back and current USF assistant Autry Denson–Sanford seems like a perfect rabbit from the hat of Kelly, with many wondering how he’d respond to losing a key cog like Alford.
Current offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock just turned down the head coaching job at Central Michigan, making a potential move of Sanford to coordinator a curious one. But Denbrock has filled multiple roles on Kelly’s staff, serving as his defensive coordinator at Grand Valley, coaching defensive line on an interim basis when Mike Elston was seriously ill and working with receivers, offensive linemen and tight ends as well.