Western Kentucky will hire Notre Dame offensive coordinator Mike Sanford to serve as its next head coach, Sports Illustrated‘s Pete Thamel reported Monday.
Source: Notre Dame assistant Mike Sanford expected to be the next coach at Western Kentucky.
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) December 12, 2016
Sanford takes over one of the best Group of 5 programs in the country, as Western Kentucky is coming off back-to-back Conference USA championships anchored around the downfield passing attack of Jeff Brohm, who is now off to Purdue. After losing franchise quarterback Brandon Doughty to graduation, the Hilltoppers plugged in South Florida transfer Mike White, a junior, and watched him rank third nationally in passing efficiency with 34 touchdowns against six interceptions on an astronomical 10.4 yards per attempt.
Western Kentucky will be the first head coaching job for Sanford, a former offensive coordinator at Boise State in addition to Notre Dame. Sanford served as recruiting coordinator under David Shaw at Stanford and coached quarterbacks at WKU in 2010. While WKU will represent Sanford’s first head coaching gig, his father, Mike Sanford, Sr., is currently the head coach at Indiana State. Sanford the younger began his coaching career as a graduate assistant under his GA father at UNLV in 2005.
Sanford’s departure will bring forth an offseason of wholesale changes in South Bend. Having already dismissed defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder earlier this fall, Brian Kelly will now be forced to replace both coordinators and his top two quarterbacks — Malik Zaire is transferring while DeShone Kizer went pro earlier today — coming off the worst of his seven seasons at Notre Dame.