Aggies find their man, lure Mike Elko from Duke to A&M

NCAA Football

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Mike Elko will take over a Texas A&M program that hasn't won 10 games in a season since 2012. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)
Mike Elko will take over a Texas A&M program that hasn’t won 10 games in a season since 2012. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Mike Elko is returning to Texas A&M.

Texas A&M announced Monday morning that it has hired Elko as its new head coach. Elko was the defensive coordinator at A&M from 2018 to 2021 and then spent the past two seasons as the head coach at Duke.

Elko, 46, inherited a Duke program that went a combined 5-18 overall and 1-17 in ACC play in 2020 and 2021 and quickly transformed the Blue Devils into a winner.

In 2022, Elko’s first season in Durham, Duke was one of the biggest surprises of the college football season as it went 9-4. The nine wins were the most for the Blue Devils since 2014. This year, Duke finished out the regular season with a 7-5 record that could have been much better had starting quarterback Riley Leonard not gotten injured.

The Blue Devils started 4-0 and were ranked No. 17 in the country when they nearly upset Notre Dame on Sept. 30. Leonard was injured at the end of that game and returned a few weeks later but was not fully healthy. The Blue Devils lost on the road to Florida State and Louisville — the two participants in the ACC title game — and then were down to their third-string quarterback to close out the season.

Despite the QB injuries, Duke finished the regular season 7-5 overall and 4-4 in ACC play. Elko had a 16-9 (9-7 ACC) record in his two seasons with the Blue Devils.

“Coach Mike Elko is one of the best leaders and coaches in college football and has had high-level success at each stop of his career,” Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork said. “He is known amongst coaching circles as one of the best defensive minds in the country and has shown his ability to lead and turn around a program as a Power Five head coach.”

Before becoming a head coach, Elko had stops as a defensive coordinator at Bowling Green, Wake Forest, Notre Dame and Texas A&M. Elko spent four seasons under Jimbo Fisher as the Aggies’ DC. Now he’s set to replace Fisher as head coach.

Texas A&M fired Fisher on Nov. 12 with the Aggies sitting at 6-4 on the year. Fisher, who won a national title at Florida State, was given a monstrous contract to come to College Station but ended up going 45-25 (27-21 SEC) in his six seasons on the job.

To move on from Fisher, the school has to pay out more than $75 million in buyout money.

The hire of Elko came after Texas A&M was reportedly on the verge of hiring Mark Stoops from Kentucky.

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