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Former Tennessee Offensive Coordinator Randy Sanders Retires As ETSU Head Coach

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Randy Sanders’ long and accomplished coaching career has come to an end.

The East Tennessee State head coach announced his retirement on Monday after four seasons in that role. His ETSU tenure closes with a 26-16 record and the program’s first-ever Southern Conference championship in 2021.

“I want to thank Dr. Brian Noland and Scott Carter for giving me the opportunity to lead the ETSU football program,” Sanders said. “This wasn’t an easy decision. I have been fortunate to coach football for over 30 years, and I’ve really enjoyed my time at ETSU, but I am ready for the next chapter.

“I am looking forward to spending time with my family and being around my grandchildren. I will forever be a Buccaneer and I am grateful for all the friendships I have made during my time at ETSU.”

On Dec. 17, 2017, Sanders was named head coach at ETSU, his first head coaching gig. In 2021, ETSU set a program record with 11 wins and won its second-ever game over a Power-5 program, a 23-3 victory over Vanderbilt on Sept. 4. ETSU made it to the quarterfinals of the FCS Playoffs, winning its first playoff game in 25 years.

“It has been an honor and privilege to work with Coach Sanders these past four years,” ETSU athletic director Scott Carter said. “The championship culture and expectation of excellence he established for our football program was remarkable. 

“Thank you for your friendship and tireless commitment to being our head football coach. You will forever be remembered as one of the all-time great ETSU Buccaneers who has taught us all to call our own play… I love you Coach, thank you!”

Sanders, 56, played quarterback at Tennessee from 1984-88. Upon graduation, Sanders joined the coaching staff under head coach Johnny Majors as quarterbacks coach. Sanders worked his way up the ladder and was named offensive coordinator in 1998 by then head coach Phillip Fulmer toward the end of the season when David Cutcliffe resigned.

Sanders’ first game as primary play-caller happened to be the inaugural BCS National Championship Game in 1999, where Tennessee defeated Florida State 23-16. Sanders resigned as offensive coordinator in 2005.

After serving on Kentucky’s staff from 2006-12, Sanders became co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for Florida State under head coach Jimbo Fisher. It was there where Sanders had another chance to coach an all-time college quarterback: Jameis Winston.

Under Sanders’ watch, Winston won the 2013 Heisman Trophy and FSU won the final BCS National Championship Game, 34-31 over Auburn. Sanders remained in the position until the end of the 2017 season, when Fisher took the head coaching job at Texas A&M.

Follow Nick Geddes on Twitter @NickGeddesNews and on Instagram @nick.geddes. 

Written by Nick Geddes

Nick is a 2021 graduate of the University of Central Florida with a bachelor's degree in journalism and a minor in political science. Nick is a life-long sports fan who is proud to say he suffered through 15 years of Bucs futility to witness a Super Bowl victory in 2020. Nick has a passion for writing and is proud to represent OutKick. Follow me on Twitter @NickGeddesNews and on Instagram @nick.geddes.

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