Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 2, 2015 Issue

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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UPON FURTHER REVIEW TODD D. BURLAGE M ike Sanford still laughs out loud when he shares the story from 2006 about how an unexpected twist of fate on a tarmac became his first big coaching break — a chance meeting that set into motion his ascent to Notre Dame's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. At the urging of his father, Mike San- ford Sr. (a longtime football coach), and his wife, Melinda, Sanford Jr. was told to immediately board a flight bound for Northern California to go lobby for a job after Jim Harbaugh's introductory press conference as the new head coach at Stanford University. Sanford Jr. had just finished his sec- ond season working as a graduate as- sistant coach under his father at UNLV, but the time had come to branch out, move up and move on. Sanford Sr. was the San Diego Char- gers wide receivers coach in 1999 when Harbaugh was the starting quarterback and Sanford Jr. was a ball boy there, a job description that included throw- ing with Harbaugh during pre-game warm-ups. Fast forward seven years and there's Sanford Jr., sitting in the rear of an air- plane on a tarmac at McCarran Interna- tional Airport in Las Vegas, rehearsing his presentation for Harbaugh — when his impromptu interview came much sooner than expected. "I had my speech planned. I was ready," Sanford said with a laugh when recalling the moment Harbaugh boarded the same flight. "But every- body has a plan until you get hit in the mouth. Coach Harbaugh was coming right towards me, that didn't fit my plan … so I ducked!" As aerial intervention would have it, Harbaugh had a vacant seat next to Airborne Interview Lifted Mike Sanford's Career Sanford, Notre Dame's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, was an outside-the-box hire by Brian Kelly. PHOTO BY JOE RAYMOND

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