COLLEGE STATION (AP) – Texas A&M hired Duke coach Mike Elko to lead the Aggies on Monday, replacing Jimbo Fisher with his former defensive coordinator for four years in College Station.
Elko left the Aggies to take his first head coaching job at Duke after the 2021 season and went 16-9 in two seasons. The Blue Devils had won just 10 games combined the three previous years.
"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," 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."
Texas A&M fired Fisher earlier this month, paying a record buyout of more than $75 million to move on from him with two games left in his sixth season with the Aggies.
Elko, who also had stints as defensive coordinator at Wake Forest and Notre Dame, led defenses that ranked in the top three of the Southeastern Conference in his final two seasons with A&M.
This season at Duke, Elko guided the Blue Devils to a 4-0 start, but they struggled after quarterback Riley Leonard was injured at the end of a close loss to Notre Dame. Duke finished 7-5.
Texas A&M's search seemed to take a twist this past weekend. There were reports the school was close to a deal with Kentucky's Mark Stoops on Saturday, but it didn't get done.
Stoops even posted a statement on social media acknowledging he had been contacted by another school about a "potential opportunity" but saying he would be staying put. He did not mention Texas A&M.
The Aggies ended their season Saturday at 7-5 with a loss at LSU.
With the transfer portal opening in a week and the early signing period for high school recruits coming up later in December, school officials wanted to move quickly to get a new coach in place.
They landed on the 46-year-old Elko, a New Jersey native who was a key recruiter for Fisher in Texas and directed a defense that was the best part of Fisher's most successful team in 2020, which went 9-1.
During the first four seasons of Fisher's tenure, with Elko on staff, the Aggies went 34-14 and landed the No. 1 recruiting class in the country in 2022.
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