LAS VEGAS – Longtime college football coach Mike Sanford was named head coach of the Faith Lutheran Crusaders, Faith Lutheran Middle School & High School CEO Dr. Steve Buuck announced today.
Sanford’s coaching experiences include time as head football coach at UNLV and Indiana State University, as well as college assistant positions at Purdue, USC, Notre Dame and Stanford. During the 2003 and 2004 seasons, Sanford was offensive coordinator at Utah, concluding his time there with a 12-0 season and quarterback Alex Smith winning the Heisman Trophy as well as being drafted No. 1 overall by the San Francisco 49ers. Sanford also served as wide receivers coach for the San Diego Chargers between 1999 and 2001.
At UNLV Sanford compiled a 16-43 mark in five seasons at the helm. One of the biggest wins in UNLV football history occurred under Sanford’s leadership, a 23-20 overtime win at 15th-ranked Arizona State on Sept. 13, 2008.
During Sanford’s tenure at Indiana State, an FCS school that plays in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, he led the Sycamores to a top 25 ranking and an overall record of 8-6, the school’s best in 30 years. He resigned in 2016 to join his son, Mike Sanford Jr., who had been appointed head coach at Western Kentucky.
Under Meyer, Sanford served as offensive coordinator and helped lead the Utes to a 22-2 record in two seasons there, including a perfect 12-0 season in 2004 and a No. 4 national ranking. Utah scored a team record 544 points and averaged more than 45 points per game – still a team record – in 2004.
Sanford replaces Vernon Fox at Faith Lutheran, who resigned as head coach earlier this year to pursue business interests and spend more time with his family. Fox was 53-28 in seven seasons as coach, including the Nevada State 3A title in 2013. Faith transitioned to 4A in 2016, and Fox led the Crusaders to the 4A playoffs each year.
“Mike’s pedigree as a successful college football coach speaks for itself,” said Dr. Buuck. “He is a man of deep faith and superb gridiron knowledge. We believe he will not only be a great fit at Faith Lutheran but a tremendous influence on our student-athletes, just as Coach Fox was.”
Sanford is a 1978 graduate of USC, where he played quarterback. He and his wife, Melinda, have two children: Lyndsay and Mike Jr. Mike Jr. who played quarterback at Boise State, was named offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the University of Minnesota on Jan. 3, 2020.
“My wife and I are thrilled about the opportunity to serve as the head football coach at Faith Lutheran Middle School & High School as we believe strongly in the school’s Christian mission of “Everyone Prepared! Everyone Saved!,” Sanford said. “I’m very excited about the future of the football program and the opportunity to compete at the 5A Division level for the first time in school history.”
Sanford will also serve as the Associate Director of Development in the Faith Lutheran Advancement Office. Sanford will begin building his coaching staff in March and will start full-time at Faith Lutheran in mid-April.
About Faith Lutheran Middle School & High School
Faith Lutheran Middle School & High School is the largest private school in Nevada and the largest Lutheran school in the US, with over 1,900 students enrolled in the 2019– 2020 academic year. The school’s 50-acre campus is located near Downtown Summerlin, and offers traditional college preparatory curriculum, and specialized technical and creative academies, including STEM, Academy of Justice & Advocacy, WCG Academy of Business & Entrepreneurship, Academy of Film & Broadcast and the Conservatory of Fine Arts, as well as award-winning athletic programs. For more information, please call 702-804-4400 or visit www.FaithLutheranLV.org.