Notre Dame offensive coordinator Mike Sanford is expected to be Western Kentucky’s next head coach, Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel reports. The 34-year-old has served as the quarterback coach and offensive coordinator for the Irish the past two seasons, coming to South Bend after serving in the same role at Boise State.
Sanford is on pace to be college football’s youngest head coach if he’s hired. A second report, this one from WBKO in Bowling Green, Kentucky, states that Sanford is only a “candidate,” though his connection to the university and program makes for a unique fit.
The move would be a homecoming of sorts, as Sanford coached at WKU under Willie Taggart in 2010, serving as the quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator. It was the first year of Taggart’s rebuild, a 2-10 campaign that ended with Sanford moving on to Palo Alto, to work under David Shaw at Stanford, where he stayed for three seasons.
Sanford’s arrival in South Bend was a big splash, a move that shook up the program just a year after Mike Denbrock was awarded the coordinator job. His work was heralded and he immediately became a hot national candidate after the Irish offense put together huge numbers with backup quarterback DeShone Kizer at the helm.
Sanford is still a risk for a program, even the Hilltoppers, who need to replace Jeff Brohm, now in charge at Purdue. A young assistant who didn’t called plays at Notre Dame, Sanford could now shape an entire program, inheriting a first-place team that won Conference USA with 10-wins and plays Memphis in the Boca Raton Bowl on December 20.
No official word has come from either school, though a move is expected by week’s end.