And Mike Sanford couldn’t be happier.
Utah State head football coach Gary Andersen announced Tuesday the hiring of Sanford as the Aggies’ running backs/tight ends coach.
Sanford and Andersen worked together at Utah in 2004, when the Utes went undefeated and beat Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl.
“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.”
Andersen is thrilled to have Sanford on board.
“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. “I am extremely familiar with his coaching style and philosophies from coaching with him, as well as coaching against him throughout the years.
“He brings a wealth of coaching knowledge and experience to our program, having been at every level from the small college all the way through to the NFL. He is a great addition to our staff and we’re excited to have him join our Aggie football family.”
Andersen was the Utes’ defensive line coach in ’04, while Sanford was the offensive coordinator and running backs coach.
“I had the opportunity to be on the same staff as (Andersen) while at Utah and coaching against him when I was at UNLV,” Sanford said. “I have a lot of respect and admiration for him as a football coach. It is a great honor to be a part of not only his staff, but a part of Utah State Aggie football.”
In addition to Sanford’s hiring, Andersen announced that former USU standout David Fiefia will be a graduate assistant coach for the Aggie offense in the fall.
Sanford comes to USU after two seasons at Louisville, where as the offensive coordinator and tight ends coach, he helped improve the Cardinals’ aerial attack.
Louisville went from nine touchdown passes in 2009 to 20 in 2010. The Cardinals scored 23 or more points in nine games, including 56 in a win over Memphis.
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. He went 16-43 as the Rebels’ head coach.
Fiefia was a four-year letterwinner for the Aggies at running back from 2000-03, earning first-team all-Sun Belt Conference honors as an all-purpose player in ’03. He also earned second-team all-league honors that same season as both a running back and kick returner.