Thanks to intraconference poaching, Minnesota has turned the keys to its offense over to Mike Sanford Jr.
Early Friday afternoon, Minnesota announced that P.J. Fleck has hired Mike Sanford Jr. as his next offensive coordinator. Sanford replaces Kirk Ciarrocca, who was hired for the same job at Penn State late last month.
“I am thrilled to welcome Mike, his wife Anne-Marie and kids Peyton, Gunnar and Griffin to Minnesota,” said Fleck in a statement. “I have known Mike for many years, and he will be an elite addition to our staff. Mike is one of the brightest young minds in the game and brings a wealth of experience to our offensive staff room and our offensive system.”
Sanford was the head coach at Western Kentucky from 2017-18. He was fired after going 9-16 in those two seasons.
This past season, Sanford coordinated Utah State’s offense. The 37-year-old son of former UNLV head coach Mike Sanford comes to Minnesota having also served as the coordinator at Notre Dame (2015-16) and Boise State (2014).
From 2011-13, Sanford was an assistant at Stanford. He was the running backs coach the first two seasons on The Farm, wide receivers coach the last one. The last two seasons, he also held the title of run-game coordinator.
In addition to Sanford’s hiring, the football program also announced that Matt Simon has been promoted to co-offensive coordinator. Simon will continue to coach wide receivers as well.
Despite Simon’s promotion, Sanford will serve as the Golden Gophers’ primary in-game playcaller.
New Year’s Day, Minnesota capped off a historic season with an Outback Bowl upset of Auburn. The 11 wins were the program’s most since they won 13 in 1904. Minnesota’s only other seasons with 10 or more wins came in 1900, 1903, 1905 and 2003.