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Aggies welcome Elko's return as head coach

12 hours ago
Texas A&M Athletics
Photo: Texas A&M Athletics

BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Mike Elko, head coach at Duke University and former Texas A&M defensive coordinator, has been named the head football coach at Texas A&M University, Director of Athletics Ross Bjork announced Monday.

"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," 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 5 head coach."

Elko has been the head coach at Duke the past two seasons, guiding the Blue Devils to back-to-back bowl games. He was named the 2022 ACC Coach of the Year as the Blue Devils finished 9-4 complete with a bowl victory over UCF in the Military Bowl. The 2023 season saw the Blue Devils get off to a 4-0 start before injuries took their toll and Duke finished the regular season 7-5.

"Coach Elko has a vision for Aggie football, and a specific plan for innovation and greatness which is exactly what our program needs right now to compete in the modern era of college athletics," Bjork added.

"We are fortunate to attract a head coach of his character, coaching acumen, recruiting experience in the SEC, winning formula, ability to develop players to their full potential and a love and familiarity with Aggieland and our University, which makes him a perfect match," Bjork concluded. "We are excited to welcome Coach Elko and his family back to Aggieland and we cannot wait to get started."

Elko is no stranger to Aggieland having served as the defensive coordinator and safeties coach from 2018-21, helping Texas A&M finish with four straight bowl trips and an overall record of 34-14 (.708).

The Aggies finished 9-1 in 2020 with an Orange Bowl victory and Elko was a semifinalist for the Frank Broyles Award, the nation's top assistant coach, in 2021. Texas A&M registered a final No. 3 ranking in scoring defense, allowing under 16 points per game, along with the No. 9 pass efficiency defense and No. 7 red zone defense in the country. The Aggie defense ended the season seventh in the country allowing only 4.66 yards per play and was No. 12 in the country in total sacks.

Prior to his time at Texas A&M, Elko was the defensive coordinator at Notre Dame in 2017. Elko was a semifinalist for the Broyles Award as the Fighting Irish finished 10-3 with a win over LSU in the Citrus Bowl.

Elko served three seasons (2014-16) as the defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Wake Forest under head coach Dave Clawson. His 2016 defensive unit finished in the top 20 in turnovers forced, sacks and scoring defense, as only four schools in the country could claim that honor and the other three teams all qualified for the College Football Playoff (Alabama, Clemson, Washington).

Elko served as the defensive coordinator for head coach Clawson at Bowling Green from 2009-13. He coached linebackers from 2009-11 and then safeties in 2012 and 2013.

Prior to his stint at Bowling Green, Elko was the defensive coordinator at Hofstra from 2006-08 and also worked on Clawson's staffs at Richmond in 2004-05 and Fordham from 2002-03.

Elko first coordinated defense at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (2001) and he spent one season (2000) coaching defensive backs at his alma mater, Penn. Elko started his coaching career as a graduate assistant, coaching inside linebackers at Stony Brook (1999) and defensive backs in the spring of 2000.

A native of South Brunswick, New Jersey, Elko graduated from Penn with a bachelor's degree in history in 1999. As a safety, he helped the Quakers to the 1998 Ivy League championship.

Elko is married to the former Michelle Madison and they are the parents of three children: Michael, Andrew and Kaitlyn.

"Director of Athletics Ross Bjork's unwavering dedication to the success of our athletics program truly hits a high point with this hire," Interim President Mark A. Welsh III said. "Coach Elko understands that fostering the growth of our student-athletes goes well beyond the playing field. He recognizes a successful athletics program requires nurturing athletic prowess while simultaneously instilling invaluable life skills and preparing them for facing challenges that will come after college. Further, Coach Elko knows Texas A&M and the 12th Man. I'm delighted that we will be welcoming him back to Aggieland. He also happens to be a world-class football coach! Betty and I are excited to welcome both Michelle and him back home."