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February 17, 2013
Know your coach: Mike Sanford
Mike Sanford wears many hats at Stanford. The Boise State graduate is entering his second year as Stanford's recruiting cycle, and was recently promoted to quarterbacks and wide receivers coach.
Raised in a football family (Sanford's father, Mike Sanford, Sr., is the head coach at Indiana State) Sanford grew up in Southern California, and after playing his college ball at Boise State, ascended through the coaching ranks as one of the bright young minds and top recruiters in college football.
Last week, Cardinal Sports Report caught up with Sanford to discuss a variety of topics about life off the field, including his Major League Baseball rooting habits, Twitter, and attending a dance recital on the recruiting trail.
Cardinal Sports Report: To start out, what's the Twitter resolution for 2013? Stop Tweeting about Disney movies?
Mike Sanford: I think to keep my phone out of the hands out of my daughter when she's trying to purchase Winnie the Pooh type movies and playing on the Winnie the Pooh app.
Also continuing to do a good job of monitoring the recruits that we're looking at for the 2014 class. Just kind of see what's going on with them, see what their personality publicly is going to be like, and then also having them follow us as well. Getting the word out about Stanford.
I think the line from Coach Shaw about Twitter has always been that Twitter can be a great running commercial for your life and how great it is and how great our program is. So I think just having kids follow us per se and encouraging them to follow us and finding more creative ways to get the word out about following myself, Coach Shaw, the Stanford Fball account, just to know and have updates on what's going on in our world.
CSR: Best memory from your playing career over in Boise?
MS: Oh, good question. Honestly I think that our victory over Fresno State (in 2001), when Fresno State was kind of the hot team in college football. They had beaten I think four ranked teams to start the season out. They were ranked No. 8 in the country. And we were just getting started as a WAC member at the time. We had made a transition from 1-AA about three years prior. We upset Fresno State with David Carr as the quarterback. To see that and what that win did for that program, propelling it forward to where it is today, I liken it much to the USC upset in 2007, a signature win you can build a lot off of as a program. That was one that you just (put in) all the hard work and all the belief in the program and the result was for it to take off.
CSR: Top moment in your coaching career?
MS: I think the Rose Bowl victory this year. It probably wasn't the most emotional or dramatic victory. It was a close game for sure. I think just the culmination of the whole season and knowing what we had to overcome and the holes we had to fill and really just looking around and seeing a guy like Stepfan Taylor after the game in the locker room. That was just a vintage Stepfan Taylor performance against a really good defense. To see him finally get some recognition... It wasn't statistically the biggest day, but it was great to see somebody really appreciate him in the Rose Bowl, giving him the offensive MVP, just appreciating who he is a as a football player. And that's that he was tough and he was going to do whatever it took to help us win games. And that really personified Stepfan and I think that win personified our season.
CSR: Favorite moment from the recruiting trail?
I think probably going to Francis Owusu's dance recital. That was definitely a first, when I lined up to purchase a ticket at Oaks Christian High School to go to a dance recital. And the most ironic thing about it is when Francis told me that I wouldn't be able to go to their house for a home visit when I was scheduled to do it, I said, 'What do you have going on?' And he said 'I have a dance recital. I'm just in the beginner dance class at school.'
They put on this whole recital from beginner dancers all the way up to really good dance team type stuff. And so I told him, Francis, I'm coming. And I thought reaction would be, 'No way coach, you can't come.' (But) he was legitimately excited for me to come. So I ended up going and sitting down with Francis' parents to watch the recital. It was actually a really good production. I wouldn't say he's the greatest of all time, but he certainly had a lot of energy and was excited about doing it. It was fun.
CSR: IF you weren't a football coach, you'd be doing
MS: I think two things I was always interested in were having a career in politics, I was a political science major. It's funny, I look at certain coaches and say that's the path I would love to take. One is Coach Osborne from Nebraska, being able to coach for a long time and then having a chance to lead a local government, a state government. I follow politics really closely. I really enjoy it as a major, so that's something I would love to do.
And then the flipside is broadcasting. I really would enjoy doing that. Just seeing what Coach Gruden has done, he's phenomenal at what he does. I really enjoy his personality coming through hand him being himself on the air I think those are things that would be really intriguing.
CSR: Best part about living in the Bay Area?
San Francisco Giants. Honestly, that's like the one professional franchise I've grown up being just an absolute die-hard fan of. And I grew up in Southern California, so it's somewhat controversial that I'm from down there and I've always been a Giants fan. But my dad being a Los Altos native, he really passed on his love for the Giants to me at a young age and I've followed the team religiously since I was about six-years-old. Just that constant striving to win a World Championship and being able to be a part of one, not really in person, but just to be around it. I love taking the Caltrain up with my wife and my daughter and going to watch a Giants game and just enjoy the scenery up there. It's just an awesome deal.
CSR: Top band, top song on the iPod, MP3 player?
MS: You know, it's funny. Each season I kind of start an iTunes playlist of songs that kind of are a theme of our season or just a song that's popular during that season. It's been kind of cool to catalog it. The Stanford 2012 playlist I've still been listening to a lot. It's kind of like my background of all the places I lived, it's all over the map. There's country music in there, there's techno music, there's rock music, there's rap, there's hip hop. But really, it's just a lot of songs we listen to at practice that guys are really into at the current time. Those kind of become the soundtrack to your season because you have memories of this song was played in the pregame warmup for his game.
So to say the individual song it's tough, but I'm a country music buff. I love country music. I went and saw George Strait, the George Strait concert down in Fresno, a culmination of all of my recruiting travel. Went down there with Coach Bloomgren and Coach Alamar and our wives and had a chance to listen to George Strait. He's one of the greatest of all time, so I've been listening to a lot of George Strait recently.
CSR: When you were at Yale or Western Kentucky and your dad was at UNLV, did you ever go up against him on the recruiting trail?
MS: We really haven't, for whatever reason. I think the kind of kid we've been going after has been a little bit different. Probably the closest is when I was at Stanford and he was at Louisville, I recruited Nashville, the state of Tennessee. Graham Shuler was a kid that they offered at Louisville. In a sense I did go head-to-head with him, but Graham obviously being such an intellectual kid, a Stanford kid, I think my dad understood that once we offered it was going to be a tough deal for them to overcome.
We were just going after different kids with different things to sell and all that.
CSR: Have you ever thought about what that would be like though, to go up against him head-to-head?
MS: Yeah, I think about that all the time to be honest. Honestly I'd probably do it like I do when I recruit against my friends in the profession. Just highlight all of the positives about the other person recruiting them and at the end of the say like Coach Shaw always says, it comes down to where a kid wants to go to school. It doesn't always have to do with the personalities of the coaches. So I think doing anything negative or even throwing jabs or whatever it may be, I never find that to be a positive thing for you as a recruiter and I think it rubs people the wrong way in the long run.
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