Western Kentucky hires Notre Dame assistant Mike Sanford as coach

12:32 p.m. EST December 14, 2016

USA TODAY Sports’ Nicole Auerbach breaks down the 2016 College Football playoff games between Alabama-Washington and Clemson-Ohio State.

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) — Western Kentucky athletic director Todd Stewart hired former Notre Dame offensive coordinator Mike Sanford as football coach.

A news conference was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon to introduce the 34-year-old Sanford, who had spent the past two seasons as Notre Dame’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Sanford also coached QBs at WKU in 2010 in 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 takes over 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.

Sanford guided a Fighting Irish offense that averaged 466.4 yards per game in 2015 — the third-highest in program history — and 34.2 points while reaching the Fiesta Bowl. He also mentored QB Deshone Kizer, who passed for 2,925 yards and 26 touchdowns this season for Notre Dame (4-8); he also rushed for another 472 yards with eight scores.

The junior announced Monday that he will forego his senior season and enter the NFL draft.

Sanford’s offensive expertise comes in handy as he takes over WKU’s high-powered offense that Brohm built.

The Hilltoppers have averaged 44.6 points and 526.2 yards per game behind quarterbacks who completed 69 percent of their passes for nearly 357 yards per contest. WKU scored 131 touchdowns under the offense-minded Brohm.

Sanford takes over a program that has been a springboard to bigger jobs for recent predecessors. Besides Brohm’s departure to the Big Ten Conference, Bobby Petrino led WKU to an 8-4 mark in 2013 before returning for a second stint at Louisville and guiding the Cardinals’ entrance into the Atlantic Coast Conference.



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