Mike Sanford completes Western Kentucky coaching staff

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Thursday January 12, 2017


Mike Sanford has completed his full-time coaching staff at Western Kentucky.

At 34 years old, Sanford is the youngest head coach in FBS. He takes over one of the top Group of 5 programs in the country, coming off back-to-back Conference USA titles with one of the most explosive offenses in the country.

Sanford spent the last two years as Notre Dame offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach and he’s put together a staff full of ties to him and his family. Here is the 2017 WKU full-time coaching staff:

Sanford’s first hire was someone who’s known the coach since birth — literally. That would be his father, Mike Sanford, who was Indiana State’s head coach since 2013, but stepped down for the opportunity to join his son’s staff. The elder Sanford has been in coaching since 1977. He’ll coach running backs and special teams.

Offensive coordinator Junior Adams worked with the younger Sanford at Boise State in 2014. He’s spent the last three years coaching wide receivers there, after moving up from the FCS ranks. He inherits an offense that has scored more than 44 points per game in three straight years, and WKU's scoring offense ranking has increased every year since 2008, from No. 110 to 104 to 90 to 89 to 70 to 53 to 6 to 3 to 1.

Clayton White was hired to run the defense. White worked with Sanford at Stanford in 2008 and at WKU in 2010, where he coached the DB's at both stops. White spent the last four years at NC State.

Tight ends coach Ryan Mahaffey worked with Sanford in 2015 as an offensive graduate assistant at Notre Dame. Mahaffey began coaching in 2013 at Northern Iowa. After two years at Notre Dame, he spent 2016 as UNI’s co-offensive coordinator / wide receivers coach.

Safeties coach Jami DeBerry has worked with both Sanfords. He spent the last four years coaching defensive backs at Indiana State under the elder Sanford, and he worked with the younger Sanford as a WKU quality control coach in 2010. DeBerry previously worked at WKU from 2008-11.

Linebackers coach Maurice Crum also has ties to both. He was a graduate assistant at Notre Dame in 2015 and Indiana State’s cornerbacks / nickelbacks coach in 2016.

As for coaches without the direct ties, Steve Spurrier Jr. returns to full-time coaching after one year as an offensive / recruiting specialist at Oklahoma. He previously coached wide receivers under his own dad at South Carolina from 2005-15. Sanford and Spurrier make two sons of veteran college head coaches.

Offensive line coach Geoff Dartt spent the last five years at Mount Union, reaching the Division III title game four times and winning it twice. He was the offensive coordinator for the last four years.

Defensive line coach Jimmy Lindsey comes from Georgia Southern after one year there. He’s previously coached defensive lines at Furman, Chattanooga, Tennessee-Martin and Miami (OH).

Former Fresno State strength coach Thomas Stallworth will lead the strength program. As far as support staff, Sanford has added Notre Dame recruiting assistant Laura Thomas as director of player development, Notre Dame recruiting assistant Zach Grant as director of player personnel, and Notre Dame analyst Matthew Mitchell in a support role.

Sanford’s first games at WKU next season will be Eastern Kentucky at home and then at Illinois.

Keep track of new FBS staffs here.

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.