Reacting to Texas A&M Football making Mike Elko 30th Head Coach in Program History
What a difference 24 hours can make, am I right Texas A&M football fans?
At about 9:30 last night, the word started to come down that Mark Stoops would be the guy for the Texas A&M football job. About two and a half hours afterwards, he was staying in Lexington. Now, former Aggie DC Mike Elko has been tabbed for the job, and all indications are that he will be making a return to College Station as the head coach, succeeding his former boss, Jimbo Fisher.
Perhaps the second-best thing Fisher did in his tenure (behind raw, unadulterated recruiting prowess) was bring Elko in as his defensive coordinator. With Elko on staff, Jimbo racked up a record of 34-14 in College Station. Once Elko departed, Jimbo’s record fell to 12-12. Now not all these numbers are created equal, of course—all the context suiting the strange 2022 campaign needs to be included there, but it’s still a striking disparity.
Elko oversaw the best Aggie defense of this century per SP+; his 2021 A&M defense notched a 14.9, good for 7th in the nation (SP+ defensive rating is derived from advanced analytics and represents the number the hypothetical exactly-average FBS offense would be expected to score, on average, against your defense). His arrival in 2018 heralded a sea change in defensive strategy and quality, taking the Aggies from 52nd to 21st in the nation in one year. His units were always solid to absolutely suffocating against the run. The one knock was sometimes playing prevent defense (which came back to bite him against Notre Dame this year at Duke).
The question that many have had about Elko is his recruiting ability; but that’s a bit overblown. He was huge in the Bryce Anderson recruitment, for example, and Ryan Brauninger of Texags is already reporting a huge positive response from key recruits to this hire. I don’t think he lives and breathes it like Jimbo did, but you’d be hard-pressed to find someone like that. His prospective retention of Elijah Robinson will be huge here as well, as will filling out the rest of his staff.
This is a high-ceiling hire. I think you’ll see some people saying that it’s not as big as if the Aggies had sprung for a different name, and while Elko isn’t Lanning, for example, there’s still huge potential here. He is one of the brightest defensive minds in the sport, and has shown he can do more with less. I’m bullish on his ability to maximize the resources available to him here at Texas A&M.