Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

CONFERENCE USA FOOTBALL ; Western Kentucky Hires Notre Dame Assistant Sanford as Head Coach

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

CONFERENCE USA FOOTBALL ; Western Kentucky Hires Notre Dame Assistant Sanford as Head Coach

Article excerpt

Mike Sanford's rush to get to his first head coaching job got him a speeding ticket on his way to Western Kentucky. Sanford doesn't expect any bumps in the road while keeping the Hilltoppers cruising at top speed.

Hours after WKU athletic director Todd Stewart announced Wednesday's hiring of the former Notre Dame offensive coordinator, Sanford recalled his 2010 stopover at WKU during his journey through the coaching ranks.

"I realized right then and there that this is the job I would love to have at some point, the 34-year-old Sanford said during his introductory news conference. "There are no words to quantify just how excited I am to be the head football coach here. That was evidenced by the speeding ticket as we transitioned from Indiana to Bowling Green. The ticket was only for 5 miles an hour [over the speed limit], so it wasn't a big one.

"But it gives you an illustration of how excited we are to be here.

Sanford received a four-year contract that pays an annual base salary of $800,000.

Sanford had spent the past two seasons as Notre Dame's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He also coached QBs and was passing game coordinator at WKU in 2010 under Willie Taggart, part of a 12-year coaching career with stops at Stanford, Yale, UNLV and Boise State, where he played QB from 2000-04.

Sanford replaces Jeff Brohm, who left WKU last week to take Purdue's head coaching job. He inherits a Hilltoppers program that went 30-10 in three seasons under Brohm and has won back-to-back Conference USA championships.

Defensive coordinator and interim coach Nick Holt will guide WKU (10-3) in the Boca Raton Bowl against Memphis (8-4) on Dec. 20 before handing the reins over to Sanford. Given his background and familiarity with the program and community, Stewart foresees a smooth transition on and off the field.

"Mike is not new to WKU and in 2010 he experienced firsthand the challenges this program was facing, the AD said. …

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