Texas A&M has hired Duke coach Mike Elko, replacing Jimbo Fisher with his former defensive coordinator for four years in College Station, a person with direct knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press early Monday.
The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the school had not yet announced its move, but an agreement was in place and Elko was flying from Durham to College Station, Texas late Sunday night.
The Houston Chronicle first reported Sunday that Texas A&M was expected to hire Elko as head coach.
Elko left the Aggies to take his first head coaching job at Duke after the 2021 season and went 15-8 in two seasons. The Blue Devils had won just 10 games combined the three previous years.
Texas A&M fired Fisher earlier this month, paying a record buyout of more than $75 million to move on from him with two games left in his sixth season with the Aggies.
Elko, who also had stints as defensive coordinator at Wake Forest and Notre Dame, led defenses that ranked in the top three of the Southeastern Conference in his final two seasons with A&M.
This season at Duke, Elko led to the Blue Devils to a 4-0 start, but they struggled after quarterback Riley Leonard was injured at the end of a close loss to Notre Dame.
Texas A&M’s search seemed to take a twist this weekend. There were reports the school was close to a deal with Kentucky’s Mark Stoops on Saturday, but it didn’t get done.
Stoops even posted a statement on social media acknowledging he had been contacted by another school about a “potential opportunity” but saying he would be staying put. He did not mention Texas A&M.
The Aggies ended their season Saturday at 7-5 with a loss at LSU. With the transfer portal opening in a week and the early signing period for high school recruits coming up later in December, school officials wanted to move quickly to get a new coach in place.
They landed on the 46-year-old Elko, a New Jersey native who became a key recruiter for Fisher in Texas and directed the defense that was the best part of Fisher’s most successful team in 2020, which went 9-1.