Head coach Mike Elko leaves Duke football for head coaching job at Texas A&M

<p>Head coach Mike Elko mans the sidelines for the Blue Devils.</p>

Head coach Mike Elko mans the sidelines for the Blue Devils.

The Elko Era, as soon as it began, is over.

Duke head coach Mike Elko will be manning the sidelines in a familiar shade of burgundy next season after Texas A&M announced him as its new head coach Monday morning. Earlier this month, the school from College Station, Texas, announced that it had relieved former head coach Jimbo Fisher of his duties, opening up one of the most profitable and resource-rich positions in college football. Elko's contract with the Aggies is $7 million of guaranteed salary annually running through January 31, 2030, with additional financial incentives should he accomplish a series of postseason goals, which would also extend his tenure.

Elko's departure comes after numerous Sunday reports emerged that he was the preferred candidate for the Aggies' vacant position. ESPN's Pete Thamel reported Sunday evening that Elko and Texas A&M had reached an agreement for the move, and he had addressed the offer in a Sunday team meeting. Elko boarded a plane late at night and landed in College Station Monday morning.

Elko came to Durham after four years as the Aggies’ defensive coordinator and revolutionized a Blue Devil unit which had put together a combined five wins in the two prior seasons into a Military Bowl winner and, earlier this season, a team ranked inside the top 25. He tied together a pair of winning seasons — 9-4 in 2022 and 7-5 in 2023 — with Duke, and was named ACC Coach of the Year for his efforts in 2022.

"First and foremost, I want to thank Coach Mike Elko," athletic director Nina King said. "He worked tirelessly in his two seasons here to truly elevate our Duke football program, and so we are really appreciative of Mike and the work that he did here."

The Blue Devils saw marked improvement on both sides of the ball, allowing for the resurgence of a demoralized defensive unit into one of the country’s best earlier this season and the renaissance of junior quarterback Riley Leonard, who is a likely NFL Draft pick when, or if, he decides to declare. Elko leaves as one of Duke’s most successful head coaches in recent memory.

Now, King will begin her search for a new head football coach ahead of what is likely to be a turbulent offseason. 

"As with our last search, our goal is to find an exceptional head coach to come in and lead this group of elite student athletes," King said. "We'll be thorough in our process and we will certainly work swiftly as we have done before."

Trooper Taylor, associate head coach and running backs coach, will take over as interim head coach, King announced. 

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

Editor's note: This story has been updated from its original version published Sunday afternoon. It was updated once Sunday afternoon with Pete Thamel's ESPN report that Elko had met with the team about the offer, and again Monday morning after Texas A&M's official announcement. Additional updates were made Monday afternoon to reflect King's statements as well as Elko's salary.

Andrew Long profile
Andrew Long | Sports Editor

Andrew Long is a Trinity junior and sports editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.


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