For the past several days it seemed likely that former University of Buffalo head coach and long-time Brian Kelly assistant Jeff Quinn would be named Notre Dame's new quarterbacks coach. Last week Matt LaFleur left for the Atlanta Falcons leaving that position open for someone else.
However, according to several reports Notre Dame has found their man, and he'll be more than just the new quarterbacks coach.
Meteoric rise for reported new Notre Dame OC Mike Sanford. Still in early 30s, was Boise OC for 1 season, Stanford pos. coach/RC before that— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) February 11, 2015
Mike Sanford was in his first year as the offensive coordinator and QB coach at Boise State this past season and is expected to take on those same duties at Notre Dame. A former quarterback who played at Boise State from 2000-2004, Sanford has been a hot commodity since joining the coaching ranks.
Sanford began his coaching career as a grad assistant at UNLV from 2005-06 where he worked under his namesake father who was the head coach of the Running Rebels. Sanford's father also coached at Notre Dame in 1997-98 for those of you who recognize the name.
In 2007 he was hired by Jim Harbaugh to be an offensive assistant at Stanford for two seasons before moving to Yale to become the Bulldogs' tight end & fullbacks coach plus recruiting coordinator. Sanford was in New Haven for just one season and then spent another single season as the quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator at Western Kentucky under Willie Taggart.
Sanford found some stability when he was hired by David Shaw to coach the running back position in 2011 back at Stanford. A year later he added the recruiting coordinator position, and in 2013 switched to coaching quarterbacks and receivers in addition to handling Stanford's recruiting.
As mentioned above, Sanford just finished his first year as an OC at his alma mater and interviewed last month at Ohio State for their vacant OC job.
It is expected that Sanford will work the west coast as a recruiter for Notre Dame and be an immediate upgrade in that position for the Irish.
This hire now brings up several questions for Notre Dame:
1) Will Sanford Actually Have (Near) Complete Control Over the Offense?
Brian Kelly has been criticized for giving the title of Offensive Coordinator out to several different coaches but never really allowing those staff members much except a secondary voice on running the offense, creating gameplans and/or making play-calls. If Sanford was hired with the understanding he'd be given the keys--or at least the role vis-a-vis Kelly wold be reversed--then this is a pretty interesting decision heading into Kelly's sixth season with the Irish.
2) How Does This Affect Notre Dame's Scheme Moving Forward?
Boise State's offensive scheme can best be described as "varied" under Sanford but it's also been that way for years. However, if you had to lean one way the Broncos offense does rely a little bit more on under-center, power running, and pro-style concepts than the Brian Kelly Notre Dame Offense.
Of course, Sanford has experience in Stanford's offense which was pro-style ManBall™ trending toward more usage of spread concepts and shotgun formations. It'll be really fun to see just how much, if anything, changes for the Irish offense and, more importantly, how this might affect the impending quarterback battle between Everett Golson and Malik Zaire.
3) What Happens to the Rest of the Staff and Coaching Vacancies?
Here are the coaching positions right now for Notre Dame:
- Head Coach- Brian Kelly
- Defensive Coordinator & Linebackers- Brian VanGorder
- Defensive Line- Mike Elston
- Outside Linebackers- Bob Elliott
- Secondary- Todd Lyght
- Offensive Coordinator & Quarterbacks- Mike Sanford
- Offensive Line- Harry Heistand
- Wide Receivers- Mike Denbrock
- Tight Ends & Special Teams- Scott Booker
- Running Backs- Vacant
You'll notice that Denbrock is no longer the offensive coordinator. Unless they plan on doing some sort of co-OC situation--and it doesn't appear that way--it's possible that Denbrock accepts the recruiting coordinator role left behind by Tony Alford.
Notre Dame looks to be taking their time filling the running back position and Autry Denson remains the favorite to land the job.
Where things get interesting is with the rumors floating around South Bend. Those include Elston moving to coach linebackers, which presumably opens up a new position for defensive line unless he flip flops with VanGorder.
Bob Elliott is expected to take an off-field position with the program with Elston coaching all of the linebackers in 2015.
Jeff Quinn is still rumored to be coming to Notre Dame but it may likely come in an off-field position. Notre Dame's Directer of Player Development Duke Preston is leaving which may be Quinn's landing spot for a year or two.
The coaching overhaul continues...