Mike Sanford to Notre Dame? Coaching Rumors Still Flying

(Photo: Matt Cashore / USA Today Sports)
(Photo: Matt Cashore / USA Today Sports)

On Sunday we posted the a recap of the latest Notre Dame assistant coaching rumors which linked Jeff Quinn, Autry Denson, and Todd Lyght all to Notre Dame.  On Wednesday, the rumor mill was on fire with news that up and coming Boise State offensive coordinator Mike Sanford was set to join the Notre Dame staff as its new offensive coordinator.

Say what?

Notre Dame needs to replace a running backs coach, a secondary coach, and a quarterbacks coach as of now; but up until Wednesday there had not been talk of Notre Dame needing a new offensive coordinator.  In fact, rumors on Tuesday stated that incumbent offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock has just turned down the head coaching job at Central Michigan to remain on the Notre Dame staff.

On Monday, Scott posted that Notre Dame fans need to R-E-L-A-X.  Just 48 hours later he is looking rather prophetic if indeed Notre Dame locks up Sanford to run an offense that Duranko eloquently profiled as having the potential to be prolific earlier today.  Sanford’s offense at Boise State this past season ranked 14th in yards per game and 9th in points per game as the Broncos won the Fiesta Bowl.

If these rumors prove to be true, Brian Kelly hit this one out of the park.  Not only is Sanford regarded as one of the brightest young offensive minds in college football, he also served as the recruiting coordinator for Stanford for three seasons including orchestrating the Cardinal’s top 5 recruiting class of 2012.  With Tony Alford joining Ohio State’s state, the recruiting coordinator position at Notre Dame was opened as well and it could have Sanford’s name all over it if he does indeed join the Irish staff.

If the name Mike Sanford sounds familiar to Notre Dame fans, it ought to.  Sanford’s father, also named Mike, served as the quarterbacks coach for the Irish under Bob Davie from 1997-1998.  Sanford the senior also served on Urban Meyer’s staff at Utah.  Why is that interesting?  Because the junior Sanford reportedly turned down an offer to join Meyer’s staff earlier this year.  Considering the Irish just lost Alford to the Buckeye’s and Meyer, adding someone whom Meyer targeted to be his offensive coordinator would be a nice cathartic victory for Irish fans.

Nothing, of course, is official yet as the HR process at Notre Dame is notoriously long so it could be some time until we know for sure if Sanford is headed to Notre Dame and what else it means for the Irish staff. Would he and Denbrock share OC roles?  Would Jeff Quinn still come on board as the QB coach if  there is a new offensive coordinator?  What does it mean for Denbrock at Notre Dame?  He will have only served as Notre Dame’s offensive coordinator for just one season, but given his past history and ties with Brian Kelly one would have to think that such a move would have been discussed with him prior to it occurring.

It could be some time until we know all of those answers, but if the Sanford news is true, we do know that Brian Kelly just nabbed one of the hottest young names in college football for his staff.  Furthermore, he will have added someone not only with experience recruiting the west coast, but someone with experience running a recruiting program at an institution with high academic standards.

On Sunday when I posted about Quinn, Denson, and Lyght potentially being added to the staff my one question was the recruiting acumen of the trio compared to the coaches they would be replacing.  Both Alford and Kerry Cooks were considering two of the best recruiters on the staff and handled the talent rich states of Texas, Louisiana, and Florida.

Now, if Sanford’s recruiting skills were to be added to the staff, the relative lack of recruiting experience of a Todd Lyght or Autry Denson, both of whom are early in their careers, would be off-set.  Throw in Denson’s ties in the state of Florida as a former Sunshine State prep All-American and Notre Dame could very well end up doing more than alright for itself from a recruiting standpoint with all of these coaching changes.

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  1. Hiring Sanford is a great move as long as Kelly lets him have full control of the offense imo. If Kelly is still calling plays and designing the offense I think Notre Dame continues to be inconsistent on offense.

  2. As the rumors become confirmed, I can say that we may well have actually beaten Urban out. Sanford is a brilliant offensive mind, and an excellent recruiter, both personally, and as an eye for missed talent. He’s a bit more west coast than Kelly’s usual play, but he’s as inventive as othey come, and the combination could be magic.
    I can’t help but wonder how long Kelly had his hand on the shoulder of Urban’s prize? Did he let Alford go?

    1. As per Alford from an interview dated last Saturday, he didn’t get the call from Meyer until Thursday night, the day after Meyer lost his RB coach to the Bears and after the national signing date had concluded.
      Had Meyer contacted Alford sooner? Maybe. But from an article posted about the diary of NSD, it sure sounded like Alford was quite excited about Dexter Williams and other ND recruits who sent in their faxes, and often was quoted as “we” that day when the faxes arrived.
      Regardless, if Sanford does arrive, and if he shunned Meyer for ND, all the better.
      As I posted earlier, one coach leaving opens the door for another’s opportunity, and this certainly sounds like both Kelly and Sanford seized the opportunity.

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