DeShone Kizer wasn’t the only one to announce he’s leaving the Notre Dame football program on Monday. Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated reports that offensive coordinator Mike Sanford is expected to be named the head coach at Western Kentucky. Western Kentucky had an opening after Jeff Brohm was named head coach at Purdue last week.
Source: Notre Dame assistant Mike Sanford expected to be the next coach at Western Kentucky.— Pete Thamel (@SIPeteThamel) December 12, 2016
Sanford’s decision to leave shouldn’t come as a surprise. His name has been tossed around as one of the up and coming talents in the coaching world. After the 2015 season there were rumblings that Sanford might take a head coaching position somewhere, but he ultimately chose to return to Notre Dame.
The Irish offense made strides under Sanford’s tutelage. In his two seasons as the OC the Irish offense averaged 32.5 points per game, which was four more points than the previous five seasons. The Irish also saw their first season in the Brian Kelly era where they averaged over 200 yards on the ground. Sanford was also vital to Kizer’s development as a quarterback.
What does this mean for the Brian Kelly and the Irish now? Well, Kelly has to replace not one, but now two coordinators. Sanford was also one of Notre Dame’s best recruiters, but as Jake Brown of Irish Illustrated points out it Sanford’s decision to leave now comes at a perfect time. It is currently a dead period for recruiting, so Kelly has a little time to find a replacement before recruiting ramps back up again in January.
Over the last few seasons WKU has had some success producing quality head coaches. Willie Taggert was just named head coach at Oregon and this past year he led South Florida to its best record in school history. Bobby Petrino spent at year at WKU before going back to Louisville. Brohm went 30-10 in three years at WKU before being named the head coach at Purdue. Sanford hopes to follow in their steps.