Utah State head football coach Gary Andersen isn’t wasting any time filling his coaching staff.
A day after news leaked out that Justin Ena would be the Aggies’ new defensive coordinator, Andersen has evidently chosen his offensive coordinator. Former Western Kentucky head coach Mike Sanford Jr. will be in charge of USU’s offense and will also serve as the quarterbacks coach, according to multiple media outlets. The soon-to-be hire was first reported by ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg on Friday.
Sanford Jr. has 14 years experience as a collegiate coach, including three years as an offensive coordinator. The Lexington, Virginia, native was Notre Dame’s offensive coordinator from 2015-16 and Boise State’s OC in 2014.
Sanford Jr. parlayed his success as an offensive coordinator into the head coaching job at Western Kentucky, where he was fired on Nov. 25. The former Boise State quarterback was 9-16 in his two seasons with the Hilltoppers.
Notre Dame and BSU excelled with Sanford Jr. directing the offense. During his lone season at BSU, the Broncos ranked in the top 30 nationally in scoring offense, total offense, passing offense and rushing offense. Boise State capped off the 2014 campaign with a 12-2 record and a 38-30 victory over Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl. Stanford Jr. has coached in a trio of Fiesta Bowls and a pair of Rose Bowls.
In his first season at Notre Dame, the Fighting Irish enjoyed their best offensive season in recent memory. Notre Dame averaged 34.2 points and 466.4 total yards an outing during the 2015 campaign. Stanford Jr. mentored Notre Dame signal caller DeShine Kizer, who ended up being a second round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Sanford Jr. also has experience coaching running backs, wide receivers, tight ends and fullbacks. The 36-year-old coached at Stanford from 2011-13 and filled multiple roles, including a two-year stint as the team’s recruiting coordinator. He was also an assistant at Stanford from 2007-08.
In addition to the aforementioned programs, Stanford Jr. has also been an assistant coach at Western Kentucky (2010), Yale (2009) and UNLV (2005-06), where he filled a graduate assistant role for his father, Mike Sanford.
Once at USU, Sanford Jr. will be reunited with offensive line coach TJ Woods, who was lured away from Western Kentucky a couple of days ago.
Sanford Jr. played at Boise State from 2000-04 and graduated from the university in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He and his wife, Anne-Marie, have three children in Peyton, Gunnar and Griffin.
Also on Thursday USU officially announced Ena has been named USU’s defensive coordinator. The former BYU standout linebacker spent the past four seasons at Utah, where he coached the linebackers and was the co-special teams coordinator the last three.
Ena, a three-time all-Mountain West selection as a player, has experience as a D-coordinator at Weber State and Southern Utah. The former NFL linebacker — Ena played three seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles and one with the Tennessee Titans — has 10 years of experience coaching at the collegiate level.