Monday, December 12, 2016 is shaping up to be a rough day for the Notre Dame offense. After Deshone Kizer announced he was leaving for the NFL earlier in the day, reports have surfaced that Mike Sanford is expected to be the next head coach at Western Kentucky. So far there has been confirmation from either side or any comment, but multiple outlets have reported definitively that Sanford is at the very least interviewing for the position.
If accurate, Sanford would be replacing Jeff Brohm at Western Kentucky after Brohm left WKU for the head coaching vacancy at Purdue earlier this month. As of early Monday evening, however, there were still some conflicting reports. Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel Sanford was expected to be named WKU’s head coach while other reports stated Sanford was just interviewing at this point.
Source: Notre Dame assistant Mike Sanford expected to be the next coach at Western Kentucky.
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) December 12, 2016
This would be a homecoming of sorts for Sanford who coached the quarterbacks at Western Kentucky in 2010 before joining the staff at Stanford in 2011.
Mike Sanford is considered a rising star in the coaching ranks and was a surprise hire by Brian Kelly in 2015 after Sanford turned down an offer to be the offensive coordinator for Urban Meyer’s Ohio State Buckeyes. Since arriving at Notre Dame, Sanford has been seen as a positive influence on the Irish offense and a major reason for the units prolific attack a year ago.
While the Irish offense fell off this year, Sanford’s star was still shining bright and many were suggesting that he be handed over more duties and play calling responsibility this year. That looks like it might be impossible now if Sanford is indeed named the head coach at Western Kentucky.
This would be a big blow for Notre Dame. The Irish are already in search of a new defensive coordinator and Sanford is considered one of the brightest up and coming coaches in the country. In short, the Irish are losing one of the best assistants and will now be in search of two new coordinators. All of this on the heels of a near historically bad 2016 regular season.
Aside from the loss of a great young coach, the Irish would be losing one of their top recruiters as they attempt to hold on to a strong recruiting class and build on a heck of a foundation for the class of 2018. Sanford played an integral role in the recruitment of Phil Jurkovec – the #1 rated QB in the class of 2018. Sanford was listed as primary recruiter for 2017 commitments Paulson Adebo, Isaiah Roberton, and Avery Davis as well.