Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Time at Yale beneficial for Boise State's Sanford

Mike Sanford had to pause for a second when the question was posed.

I spoke to the Boise State offensive coordinator who I crossed paths with when he was an assistant coach on Tom Williams' staff at Yale back in 2009. He left after the season to become the passing game coordinator at Western Kentucky. He then spent three seasons at Stanford, squaring off with the Notre Dame defenses coached by current UConn coach Bob Diaco during the 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons.

He was talking about the birth of his first child coming just 17 days before he got into a car with his wife and daughter for a long drive to Kentucky.

With Sanford and the Boise State traveling party leaving for Connecticut tomorrow I was curious whether Sanford had stepped foot in Connecticut and after a quick chuckle, it hit home with him that was indeed the case.

There were plenty of topics I wanted to address with him. I got into the fact that his Boise offense ran a staggering 63 plays in the first half of Saturday's win over Colorado State and that will be posted at some point later in the week. When I got back from last week's UConn/Stony Brook game the Boise State/Colorado State contest was on ESPN2 and the details surrounding the birth of Mike and Anne-Marie Sanford's second child received a lot of air time especially the part when Anne-Marie set up a separate sleeping area for her husband 24 hours after giving birth so he could get some sleep the night before the Colorado State game.

Naturally I wanted to get a sense of how important that 2009 season was for Sanford.

"I think my experience at Yale was my first full-time position experience," Sanford said. "I had four good years of experience under my belt but I was more of a graduate assistant, quality control coach so it was the first time I had my own position group. The position I had was an outstanding group with John Sheffield, A.J. Haase, Chris Blohm, Shane Bannon, I coached the tight ends, the fullback and h-backs so the thing I really learned in coaching that group is that it is important to develop some position identity. It ended up carrying over for a couple of years. I thought it ended up being one of the toughest groups on the football team and we also had a lot of fun. It was a great environment even away from football. Even though I was leaving, they were still around when Peyton was born and I got really close to those guys. Coaching is more than strictly about wins and losses."

Sanford was also the recruiting coordinator for Yale during the 2009 season which helped him in so many ways as a coach.

"I had a chance as a recruiting coordinator at Yale and it was an outstanding experience for me," Sanford said. "You are limited in terms of the amount of help that you have. If you are at Stanford or Boise State you have massive staffs but I had a job I had to do for a national recruiting operation at Yale. You end up bringing in 28-30 different prospects in at Yale and we only bring in usually 18-20 or 25 so it is a lot of work but I had a chance in my career to organize something for a staff, organize staff meetings which really helped me as an offensive coordinator. The experience I have to have a meeting with Dean of Admissions Dean (Jeff) Brenzel talking about kids who were applying, vouch for them, talk about their character, their academics, understand the academic index in the Ivy League. There is a lot of stuff looking back that I am really grateful for that experience as a coach.

"I really did love living in New Haven, it is a very unique place. I am trying to find a way to get to Pepe's if I can. I enjoyed living there because it is so different culturally to what you are used to on the west coast. Yale was a powerful place. People ask me about Yale and it is a very powerful place. You walk around the halls and you are surrounded by a living legend, those who have come before and have been world leaders."


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