Back where they belong: Yates and Sanford always hoped to return to Boise State

ccripe@idahostatesman.comJanuary 9, 2014 

boise state football, coaches

Defensive coordinator Marcel Yates and offensive coordinator Mike Sanford join the Boise State football staff. The two coaches talked with media representatives at a press conference Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014.

DARIN OSWALD — doswald@idahostatesman.com Buy Photo

Marcel Yates' wife, Melanie, sent him a photo Wednesday from Texas of a drawing by their 5-year-old daughter, Kaybrie.

It was of Buster Bronco.

Melanie is from Boise and Kaybrie still remembers her toddler years here.

"This is my second home," Yates, who grew up in Los Angeles, said as he was formally introduced as the Broncos' new defensive coordinator. "And it's really becoming my first home, so I'm happy to be back."

Mike Sanford and his wife, Anne-Marie, decided before the 2013 season that they would leave Stanford at the end of the year for one school only: Boise State, where he played quarterback (2000-04). He tried several times to join former coach Chris Petersen's staff, but the timing was never right.

The 31-year-old quickly accepted new coach Bryan Harsin's offer to become the Broncos' next offensive coordinator.

"This has been a dream for me," Sanford said. "This place really formed me. I think this place really has that destination feel for me as a football coach."

Harsin, Yates, Sanford and associate head coach Kent Riddle met with the media Wednesday. Harsin, who was hired Dec. 11, was able to bring together his entire staff for the first time this week. He still has not announced the final member of the full-time staff, wide receivers coach Junior Adams.

The coaches revealed little about the specifics of the schemes they will begin to implement when spring ball opens March 10 (the Spring Game is April 12) — and that's partly because Harsin's staff was assembled with pieces from Boise State (two full-time coaches), Arkansas State (five), Stanford (one), Texas A&M (one) and Eastern Washington (one).

They bring a variety of ideas that Yates and Sanford need to meld into a cohesive plan.

"(The defense) will be physical, tough, disciplined," said Yates, who coached defensive backs at Boise State from 2003 to 2011 and played there from 1996 to 1999, "and we're going to play hard."

Sanford might have the most difficult job other than Harsin, who replaces one of the most successful coaches in college football history in Petersen.

Sanford assumes the reins of an offense that had been one of the nation's best and most entertaining until the past two years. He also inherits some quarterback issues with the roster down a scholarship player (Jimmy Laughrea transferred last year), the recruiting class missing a quarterback and redshirt freshman Ryan Finley's injured shoulder still a question mark.

"I have a lot of respect for that job," Sanford said. "… It's the best school to coach at in college football. There's great responsibility that comes with this position."

Sanford spent the past three seasons at Stanford, which went to a Bowl Championship Series game each time. He was the quarterbacks and wide receivers coach in 2013. He previously served as the quarterbacks coach at Western Kentucky (2010), fullbacks and tight ends coach at Yale (2009), offensive assistant at Stanford (not full time, 2007-08) and graduate assistant at UNLV (2005-06).

He will be the play caller for the Broncos — a first in his career — and hinted at a return to the Broncos' offense of old, emphasizing creativity, aggression and multiplicity. The Boise State brand, Sanford said, involves being "on the cutting edge of creativity and the cutting edge of how you use your personnel."

"I hope we're the best executing offense in the country," Harsin said.

Harsin tried to lure Sanford to Arkansas State last year — they spoke for 2 hours on Christmas night in 2012. Sanford opted to stay at Stanford.

He made his decision in 5 minutes this time.

Sanford, in fact, texted Harsin before he even got the job to suggest they work together in Boise.

"He knows and I know there's something special about this place," Harsin said.

Still, Sanford was nervous about telling Stanford coach David Shaw. His boss "lit up like a Christmas tree."

"His quote to me was, 'Mike, this program means so much to you. There's nothing like returning to your alma mater to coach,' " Sanford said. "He knows that firsthand. You see that in the way he approaches that job. It's so much more special to him because he's lived it."

Yates, 36, left Boise State after the 2011 season to become the co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach at Texas A&M. He wanted to expand his horizons — he had spent his adult life at Boise State except for two years as an assistant at Montana State (2001-02) — and increase his chances of becoming a coordinator.

Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin recruited Yates in part by suggesting his time with the Aggies would get him the job he wanted.

"He knew my goals," Yates said. "(Sumlin said) 'If you come help me win in the SEC, I will help you become a defensive coordinator.' When I got the call and went into his office, he knew exactly what I wanted to do. For me, it's not about the conference or the team, it was time for me to do a certain job."

Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat

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