Marvin Sanders hasn’t coached football at the college level since 2012, but he has been eyeing his return to the collegiate game.
He was a head coach at a Los Angeles High School for four years and has continued his coaching education, including visiting college coaching staffs and participating in July and August in a minority fellowship – similar to an internship – with the Los Angeles Rams, where he took part in daily team activities under head coach Sean McVay and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.
He hopes those experiences will make him a better defensive coordinator at Coastal Carolina. Sanders was hired Friday to join the staff of head coach Joe Moglia, with whom he worked for two years at Nebraska in 2009-10 and a year with the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League in 2011.
“I knew getting back into the college game was something I wanted to do. I really enjoy the relationships that I develop with young men at the college level,” Sanders said. “I’m both excited and honored to have an opportunity to be here at Coastal Carolina. I really believe in what coach Moglia is doing so when we visited about a possible opportunity to join the staff it was really a no-brainer. There were some other opportunities out there but I think what coach Moglia has done and what he continues to do with this program is something I wanted to be a part of.”
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Sanders, 50, replaces two-year defensive coordinator Mickey Matthews, whose retirement was announced on Thursday.
“I have known Marvin since 2009 and have seen firsthand his impact on the type of defense we are striving for here at Coastal,” Moglia said. “He is a believer in everything our program stands for – BAM (Be A Man), LAF (Life After Football) and our mission to put a team on the field that all of which Coastal Carolina will be proud.”
Sanders was defensive coordinator at North Carolina for three seasons (2004-06) and has a total of 23 years of collegiate coaching experience.
After working with Moglia in Omaha, Sanders was hired as defensive coordinator at Florida Atlantic in December 2011 but left that post in February 2012 to be the defensive backs coach at Southern California. He left USC after it hired Clancy Pendergast as its defensive coordinator.
In his one year with the Trojans, USC ranked ninth in the NCAA in both interceptions (19) and turnovers gained (32) while jumping 20 spots to 41st nationally in pass efficiency defense.
Sanders was the head coach at Los Angeles’ Loyola High School from 2013-16.
“I’ve still been coaching,” Sanders said. “The thing that has given me a little advantage was coaching at the high school level because now I got to see a little bit of the other side. I think it’s going to benefit me as far as recruiting is concerned.”
Sanders takes over a Coastal Carolina defense that had a stellar year in 2016 but struggled for much of its first season at the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level, allowing 34 points per game to finish 10th in the Sun Belt Conference in scoring defense and 411 yards per game to finish eighth in the 12-team league. The Chants did hold their final two opponents – Idaho and Georgia Southern – to a combined 24 points and less than 300 yards of offense each.
“Being at this [FBS] level, I think [CCU] has all the tools to be a successful program,” Sanders said. “You have the facilities, you have a good recruiting base, you have an administration that is really supportive of athletics and the football program. So when you look at the makeup of what Coastal Carolina has to offer, it’s a great opportunity.”
At Nebraska, where Moglia was the Executive Advisor for Football in his return to coaching in 2009-10, Sanders helped the Cornhuskers rank among the nation’s best defenses in his four total seasons (2003; 2008-10) as the secondary coach and final two as the assistant head coach on defense.
The Huskers led the nation in pass efficiency twice (2003 and 2008) while ranking third in 2010. Nebraska’s 32 interceptions in 2003 – thanks to an NCAA-best 10 by Josh Bullocks that season – rank among the NCAA all-time top five.
Nebraska’s defense also ranked among the NCAA top 20 in scoring defense (first in 2009, second in 2003 and ninth in 2010), fewest passing yards allowed (fifth in 2010, 11th in 2003 and 18th in 2009), passes intercepted (first in 2003, seventh in 2009 and 11th in 2010) and total defense (seventh in 2008, 11th in both 2003 and 2010).
Bullocks was a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive in 2003 and Nebraska’s Prince Amukamara was a finalist for the award in 2009.
“[Turnovers] is a result of effort. There’s no secret formula,” Sanders said. “When guys give effort good things tend to happen. That’s what we’re going to stress is effort. I can put any kind of scheme out there. I think what it’s going to come down to is guys giving 100 percent effort. It’s easy to talk about that effort, but we’ve got to show them what that 100 percent effort is.”
Between stints at Nebraska, Sanders was at North Carolina (2004-06) as co-defensive coordinator/secondary coach and defensive coordinator in his final two years with the Tar Heels.
After a 2-10 season and ranks outside the top 100 in most defensive categories prior to Sanders’ arrival, North Carolina improved to 6-6 in 2004. The Tar Heels climbed to 42nd nationally in total defense in his first year as defensive coordinator in 2005 while ranking 48th in pass defense in 2006.
Sanders served as the secondary coach at Colorado State for two seasons (2001-02), when the Rams went 17-9 and won the 2002 Mountain West title.
Other coaching stops included one season as defensive ends/outside linebackers coach at New Mexico State (2000), five seasons at Nebraska-Omaha (1995-99, including the final three as defensive coordinator), one season as defensive backs coach at Minnesota-Morris (1994) and two seasons as defensive backs coach at Nebraska Wesleyan (1992-93).
A native of Chicago, Sanders received his Bachelor’s in business administration at Nebraska in 1990. During his four years as a defensive back for coach Tom Osborne, Nebraska played in four bowls, including the Sugar Bowl, 1987 and ’89 Fiesta Bowls and 1988 Orange Bowl. Sanders earned honorable mention All-Big Eight honors his senior season.
He and his wife, Susan, have two adult children – a daughter, Chandler Marie, and a son, Payton.
1992-93: Nebraska Wesleyan (Defensive Backs)
1994: Minnesota-Morris (Defensive Backs)
1995-96; ‘97-99: Nebraska-Omaha (Secondary; Defensive Coordinator)
2000: New Mexico State (Defensive Ends/Outside Linebackers)
2001-02: Colorado State (Defensive Backs)
2003: Nebraska (Defensive Backs)
2004-06: North Carolina (Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs)
2008-10: Nebraska (Defensive Backs)
2011: Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League
2011: Florida Atlantic (Defensive Coordinator)
2012: Southern California (Defensive Backs)
2013-16: Loyola High School (Head Coach)
2017-present: Coastal Carolina (Defensive Coordinator)