LOGAN — Utah State football coach Gary Andersen announced the hiring of Mike Sanford as USU's new assistant head coach on Tuesday morning. Sanford will coach the Aggies' running backs and tight ends.
"I'm extremely honored and excited to be a part of Utah State football," Sanford said. "I believe that Utah State is one of the top programs on the rise in the country, especially the western United States. Last season was definitely a strong indicator of that. I have tremendous respect for Gary Andersen and to be a part of his staff is a great privilege, and I'm thrilled to be coaching with him again. I had the opportunity to be on the same staff as him while at Utah and coaching against him when I was at UNLV, and I have a lot of respect and admiration for him as a football coach."
Sanford and Andersen will be reuniting after being together on the University of Utah staff in 2004, when Andersen was the Utes' defensive line coach and Sanford was offensive coordinator and running backs coach.
"When hiring an assistant coach, you always want to find someone who puts the student-athletes first and is the best coach out there, and Coach Sanford definitely fits both of those," Andersen said.
In addition to Sanford's hiring, Andersen announced that former USU standout David Fiefia (Fee-uh-fee-uh) will be a graduate assistant coach for the Aggies' offense in the fall.
Sanford comes to USU after two seasons at Louisville, where as offensive coordinator and tight ends coach, he helped improve the Cardinals' passing, improving from nine touchdown passes in 2009 to 20 in 2010. Louisville scored 23 or more points in nine games, including 56 in a win over Memphis. Sanford mentored Louisville tight end Cameron Graham to earn first-team all-Big East Conference accolades after catching 40 passes for 470 yards and five TDs.
Prior to Louisville, Sanford was head coach at UNLV from 2005-09, where he took over a program that was coming off four consecutive losing seasons. His five seasons tied for the third-longest coaching stint in Rebel football history.
During his time at UNLV, Sanford coached 29 all-Mountain West Conference honorees, including 2007 MWC Defensive Player of the Year Beau Bell, and 2006 MWC Freshman of the Year Ryan Wolfe, who went on to earn three first-team selections.
Sanford took over the UNLV program after two years at Utah as offensive coordinator and was part of the Utes' 21-2 overall and 13-1 MWC two-year stretch, including 12-0 overall, 7-0 in MWC and victory in the 2004 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
Before Utah, Sanford was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Stanford in 2002, returning to the college ranks after three seasons in the NFL as wide receivers coach with the San Diego Chargers from 1999-2001.