ESPN | September 17, 2015
WITH EACH STEP, the crowd swells. Three, four and five deep they stand, dressed in blue and gold with blots of green. They line the sidewalks and rise up on their tiptoes to catch a glimpse of the Fighting Irish, moving en masse toward Notre Dame Stadium. It's the first Saturday in September. Week 1. And two hours from now, Notre Dame will host Texas under the lights, the first meeting between the college football blue bloods in 19 years.
In the middle of it all, guiding the Irish offense, will be Mike Sanford, the hottest young coordinator in the game. It was March 2 when head coach Brian Kelly officially introduced the 33-year-old he had hired away from Boise State to re-energize the playbook, improve the inconsistent quarterback play and help lead the program to its first national title in nearly three decades. Lucky for Kelly, the kid knows all too well the pressures of coaching in South Bend -- his dad, also named Mike, was the Irish quarterbacks coach in 1997 and '98. Young Mike, he was a ball boy. Until today, he had never even seen the Notre Dame players' walk, only heard about the pageantry from his father.
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