Sanford brings experience to Aggies

<strong>LOGAN—</strong> USU football assistant head coach Mike Sanford may be new to the Aggies, but he certainly has plenty of experience to draw from. He spent the past two seasons as the offensive coordinator of Louisville, and spent five years as the head coach at UNLV prior to that.

After spending his past two seasons in the Big East conference, Sanford is happy to be back in the Western United States.

“A lot of my time in coaching has been in the West,” Sanford said. “I’m excited to be back, I love being back, I feel like this is where I’m supposed to be, and I love being here at Utah State and working for Gary Andersen.”

Andersen may have been the driving factor in bringing Sanford to the Aggies. The two coached together at the University of Utah in 2004, when Andersen was the defensive line coach and Sanford was the offensive coordinator. That Utah team went undefeated, and was the first non-BCS team to play in and win a BCS bowl game.

“I have a lot of respect for (Gary Andersen), just having coached with him and seeing what he’s done here,” Sanford said. “I excited to be a part of this thing because of the progress that’s been made. Hopefully I can, in some way, have some impact here.”

Along with his assistant head coach duties, Sanford will also be in charge of the running backs and tight ends for the Aggies. For someone who has spent the past 10 years as an offensive coordinator or head coach, Sanford said he is enjoying a more hands on approach.

“I think one of the things that you learn as you’ve been in this profession and having been a head coach – when you’re looking at it as a head coach, you want your assistants to do their job and to fulfill their role. It’s very important for me to fulfill my roll,” Sanford said.

Sanford also feels that he’s joining the Aggies at the right time. USU is coming off its first winning season in 14 years, is a legitimate contender for the WAC title in its final year in the league, and will be moving to the Mountain West Conference in 2013.

“I think there’s a real positive vibe on the team. Coming off the season that they did last year, I think there’s a really good attitude,” Sanford said. “I think there’s also a feeling of wanting to make the next step from here. That’s something that I’m very excited to be a part of.”

Sanford started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at USC in 1977, before being named the defensive coordinator of San Diego City College in 1978. Sanford has also made stops at Army, the Virginia Military Institute, Long Beach State, Purdue, Notre Dame, and Stanford. He also spent three years with the San Diego Chargers as a recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach.

Outside of coaching, Sanford said he enjoys spending time with his wife of 35 years, Melinda, his two children, and grandchildren. He also said he loves Utah and the mountains, and is an avid skier – even if he isn’t very good at it.

“I’m excited to be at Utah State and I’m excited to be a part of this program,” Sanford said. “I just feel like I belong out here, I just feel like I belong in the Western United States.”

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