It’s the dawn of a new era in Bowling Green. After the departure of Jeff Brohm for Purdue, the Tops have brought in Mike Sanford Jr. to run the show. Since his hiring in December, Sanford Jr. has since filled out the staff with a host of position coaches with significant experience in fast paced, high scoring football that WKU fans have become accustomed to in recent years. So without further adieu, let’s take a look at who will lead the offense on The Hill in 2017.
Mike Sanford Jr. - Head Coach
Sanford comes to Bowling Green for his first year at the head of a college program. Most recently he spent the 2015 and 2016 seasons as the offensive coordinator and QB coach at Notre Dame. Prior to that, Sanford served as Boise State’s offensive coordinator in 2014.
Sanford gets the bulk of the credit for developing ND’s Deshone Kizer into the potential early round pick that he is today. Sanford also had a hand in the development of Dolphins’ running back Jay Ajayi and several other former college standouts including Kevin Hogan, Stepfan Taylor, and Grant Hedrick.
Sanford’s resume includes 12 years of coaching experience. Interestingly enough, this isn’t his first stop at Western as a coach. Sanford spent the 2010 season as the QB coach and passing game coordinator on Willie Taggart’s staff. Sanford also had stints as a position coach at UNLV, Stanford, and Yale.
As a player, Sanford spent his entire collegiate career (2000-2004) as a backup QB at Boise State, where he threw 38 passes for 346 yards and one touchdown.
Junior Adams - Offensive Coordinator/Wide Receivers Coach
Adams spent the last three seasons at Boise State as a wide receivers coach and as the passing game coordinator in 2016. His and Sanford Jr.’s time in Boise overlapped in 2014.
Prior to that, Adams coached wide receivers at Eastern Washington from 2009 to 2013. EWU won the FCS National Championship in 2010. Some of the notable players Adams has helped develop include Thomas Sperbeck (Boise State’s all-time leader in receiving yards) and Cooper Kupp of EWU who holds the FCS career records in total receptions (428), receiving yards (6,464), and receiving touchdowns (73).
Adams also had a stint at Chattanooga as an assistant in 2008, won a state championship with Prosser High School in Washington as a receivers and special teams coach in 2007, and coached wide receivers at his alma mater Montana State from 2004 to 2006. As a player, Adams earned All-American honors with the Bobcats after transferring from Oregon State.
Steve Spurrier Jr. - Quarterbacks Coach/Assistant Head Coach
The son of the Head Ball Coach himself, Spurrier spent last season with Oklahoma as a recruiting and offensive assistant. The Sooners’ offense ranked No. 3 nationally in 2016, averaging over 550 yards and 44 points per game.
The bulk of his career has been spent at his dad’s side, which is definitely not a bad place to be. After his playing career at Duke, Spurrier joined the HBC’s staff at Florida as a graduate assistant from 1994 to 1998. He went on to have stints as an offensive assistant with Oklahoma (where he was part of their 2000 national championship staff), Washington’s NFL team, and Arizona before rejoining his father at South Carolina from 2005 to 2015. His roles with the Gamecocks included receivers coach, passing game coordinator, recruiting coordinator, and co-offensive coordinator.
His NFL products include Sidney Rice, Alshon Jeffery, Kenny McKinley, and Pharoah Cooper among many others.
Mike Sanford Sr. - Running Backs Coach/Special Teams Coordinator
The father of head coach Mike Sanford Jr., Sanford Sr. enters his 40th season as a football coach. Most recently, he spent 2013 to 2016 as the head coach at Indiana State and earned the Sycamores their first and only postseason win in 2014 when they defeated Eastern Kentucky 36-16.
Sanford Sr. played QB at USC from 1973 to 1976 and was a member of their national championship team in 1974. After his playing days, he had stints as a coach at 12 different schools along with spending 1999 to 2001 as the receiver coach of the San Diego Chargers. He’s coached in bowl games 11 times with four different programs. NFL products Sanford Sr. hand a major hand in developing include Alex Smith, Keyshawn Johnson, Curtis Conway, and Johnnie Morton.
What makes this season a new experience for Stanford Sr., aside from coaching under his son, is the fact this will be the first year in his multi-decade career that he has a role in special teams.
Geoff Dartt - Offensive Line
As a college player and coach, Dartt was a part of five national championship seasons with Division III Mount Union. He played there from 2002-2007 and the Raiders took home the title in ‘02, ‘05, and ‘06.
After four years as an offensive line coach in Wheaton College in Illinois, Dartt returned to Mount Union in 2012 as the O-Line coach. From 2013 to 2016, Dartt held that position and served as the Offensive Coordinator. During his time there, Mount Union went 70-4 and won four straight conference championships, along with national championships in 2012 and 2015.
In 2014 and 2015, Mount Union had the top scoring offense in D3 under the direction of Dartt. Dartt also coached center Mitch Doraty to the 2015 and 2016 D3 Rimington Award and quarterback Kevin Burke to the Gagliardi Trophy (AKA the D3 Heisman) in 2014 and 2015. This is Dartt’s first job outside of Division III.
Ryan Mahaffey - Tight Ends
Mahaffey played tight end at Northern Iowa from 2006 to 2010 before a two year NFL career that included stints with the Ravens, Colts, and Dolphins. In college, he earned all-conference honors twice and made the MVFC All-Newcomer team in 2011. He spent the 2013 season as the Recruiting Coordinator and tight ends coach at UNI before spending 2014 and 2015 (a season that he and Sandford Jr. coached together) with Notre Dame as a a graduate assistant and wide receivers coach.
In 2016, he returned to UNI as the Co-Offensive Coordinator and wide receivers coach in a season highlighted by the Panthers beating Iowa State on the road.
Spring ball for the Tops begins on March 23rd and all practices will be open to the public. Check back next week when we take a look at the new defensive coaches!