Mike Elko Continues to Build Extremely Promising First Texas A&M Football Staff
Texas A&M football has their new defensive coordinator, as the Aggies have hired Jay Bateman to fill their vacant DC spot. Bateman was most recently the inside linebackers coach at Florida, but had been a defensive coordinator at UNC and Army prior to that.
This was not really a name on any casual fan's radar leading up to the announcement of the hire. Bateman and Elko have history working together, as both served on a Richmond staff in the earlier part of the 2000s, but his name was still not one that anyone had guessed.
Perhaps it should have been, however. Bateman has some major bona fides as a DC and as a recruiter: he has been credited as one of the top recruiters in the country, pulling in high-profile prospects at both UNC and Florida, and his defenses at Army (!) were ferocious.
A concern people had, though, was how poorly Bateman's defenses at UNC ended up. They were far worse than when he was at Army, to be sure; but the reason for that should be clear. Bateman had been hired to be a co-DC and forced to mesh his style with another coordinator's. Mack Brown was trying to build a staff of recruiters, and Bateman brought a lot to the table there; however, forcing him to change what he was doing on the field brought about less than ideal results.
That in mind, let's take a look at Bateman's last three defenses when he was the sole DC for a team. In 2018, Bateman's defense was 8th in the nation at yards per game allowed. In 2017, they were 32nd. In 2016, they were 4th. That's pretty stout, especially at a football program with the special hurdles that the Army Black Knights have.
There's reason to be wary of this hire, and there's reason to be excited about it. I feel like Elko got his guy on this one; they clearly have a convergent vision, which is important when making these kinds of hires as a coach who wants to implement a clear system on one side of the ball. If he can craft the overall defense and trust Bateman to call it on Saturdays, that's perfect.
Another factor to consider is how upset a fanbase is who is losing the coach, and by all accounts, the Gators fans are pretty upset. That's always a good sign—as an example of the inverse, I remember when Colorado State fans couldn't see off Addazio fast enough before the Aggies picked him up.
All in all, I feel good about this one. A stud recruiter to fit in with a staff full of them, yet also a guy who can call the kind of defense that Elko wants is exactly the profile we as Texas A&M football fans wanted to see out of this hire.