Texas A&M will be looking for a big season from it’s defense if they want to make a push for an SEC or national championship in 2021, and that effort received a major boost on Wednesday, when it was reported that Defensive Coordinator Mike Elko has removed his name from consideration for the Kansas head coaching job and plans to remain in Aggieland for the upcoming season.
Source: Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mike Elko, who has been one of the top candidates for the Kansas head coaching job, plans to remain at Texas A&M.— Matt Zenitz (@mzenitz) April 28, 2021
Big for Jimbo Fisher and Texas A&M. Led by Elko, A&M had the top ranked defense in the SEC last season.
A&M’s defense has improved each season under Elko, including a 2020 season that saw the squad finish as the No. 1 defense in the SEC in total defense, No. 2 in passing defense, No. 2 in rushing defense, and No. 3 in scoring defense. The 2021 defense will lose only two starters from that squad (DT Bobby Brown, LB Buddy Johnson), who accounted for less than 19% of tackles only one of the 14 turnovers forced last season.
This isn’t the first time that Elko’s name has come up as a head coaching candidate, as he was also one of the leading candidates at Temple two years ago. Being in the running for a Power 5 job (even if it is Kansas) shows his stock continues to rise, and if this defense plays up to their potential in 2021, that stock will likely rise even higher. It seems like only a matter of time before Elko does take a head job, but take it as a huge indicator about the state of the A&M program that he seems to be on that path. The last time an A&M coordinator was hired away for a head coaching job was Kliff Kingsbury heading home to Lubbock in 2013 (following Johnny Manziel’s Heisman season). The last time an A&M defensive coordinator got a head coaching job was Tommy Tuberville (hired by Ole Miss in 1995).
The fact that A&M will now be getting a fourth year out of Elko is a huge blessing. The Aggies now have seniors who have been in the same scheme for their entire college careers, and that kind of continuity (especially when the scheme is effective) pays huge dividends. Add that continuity to the huge talent base that the A&M staff has recruiting in recent seasons, and this could be the best defense we’ve seen in College Station this millennium.