Notre Dame

Notre Dame

Only a few hours after DeShone Kizer announced his decision to enter the NFL Draft, a pair of reports emerged that directly impact the composition of Brian Kelly's coaching staff at Notre Dame. 

According to Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike Sanford will he hired as Western Kentucky's next coach; and per Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman. Wake Forest defensive coordinator Mike Elko will interview for the same position at Notre Dame this week. 

A TV reporter in Bowling Green, Ky. offered a conflicting report on Sanford, saying only that the up-and-coming coach interviewed for the position at Western Kentucky that came open a week ago when Jeff Brohm left to take over at Purdue. Notre Dame hired Sanford away from Boise State in the winter of 2015, with Kelly hoping to insert a new voice into his offensive structure alongside longtime lieutenant Mike Denbrock. 

While Sanford didn't call plays in either of his first two years in South Bend, he had a key hand in the development of Kizer, who went from an unknown redshirt freshman to possible top-10 draft pick in the span of about 18 months. Even if Sanford isn't at Notre Dame next year, he'll have also played a part in the growth of redshirt freshman quarterback Brandon Wimbush, who is expected to take over in Kizer's absence next fall. 


Elko coordinated a Wake Forest defense largely bereft of talent into one of college football's grittiest groups, which propelled the Demon Deacons to their first bowl appearance in five years this fall. Wake Forest, which did not field a former four- or five-star recruit on defense in 2016, ranked 40th in yards per play (5.34) and 20th in points per game (21.8). 

Kelly said last month he would interview both internal and external candidates for Notre Dame's defensive coordinator opening, which likely meant linebackers coach/recruiting coordinator Mike Elston would get a shot. Interim defensive coordinator Greg Hudson would be another internal option. 

Whoever Notre Dame's next defensive coordinator will be is expected to be allowed to hire his own assistant coaches. 

Elko followed Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson from Bowling Green, where he had spent five years as defensive coordinator.