Texas A&M has hired Notre Dame defensive coordinator Mike Elko to coach Jimbo Fisher’s defense.
Texas A&M announced the hiring on Thursday, a few hours after Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly posted on Twitter that Elko had accepted an offer to be the Aggies’ defensive coordinator. Elko was at Notre Dame for one season and the Fighting Irish defense took a big step forward, from 5.40 yards per play allowed (45th in the nation) to 5.05 (25th). He spent the previous three seasons at Wake Forest.
“I’m excited to bring one of the top defensive minds in the nation onto our staff here at Texas A&M,” Fisher said in a statement “No matter where Mike has worked, he has consistently produced defenses that have been among the nation’s best.”
Texas A&M tried to hire Dave Aranda away from LSU, but he chose to stay with the Tigers and signed a four-year deal worth $10 million on Wednesday night. Aranda is the first FBS assistant to make more than $2 million per year.
Elko, 40, spent three seasons at Wake Forest before being hired by Kelly as part of a major overhaul to Notre Dame’s staff. The Irish went 4-8 last season, but rebounded to 10-3 this year, including a 21-17 victory against LSU in the Citrus Bowl.
At Wake Forest, Elko’s defenses ranked in the top 40 nationally in yards per play twice, even while playing with offenses that provided little support.
The New Jersey native played at Penn and won an Ivy League championship in 1998. He started his coaching at his alma mater and did stints at FCS schools Fordham, Richmond and Hofstra before becoming defensive coordinator at Bowling Green for Dave Clawson in 2009. The Falcons led the Mid-American Conference in total defense and scoring defense in each of his Elko’s last two seasons.
He had previously worked for Clawson at Fordham and then followed the head coach to Wake Forest in 2014. With the Demon Deacons, Elko developed attacking defenses that created negative plays without a lot of highly recruited players.
Fisher took over at Texas A&M last month after eight seasons at Florida State. Fisher took neither of his coordinators from Florida State with him to College Station, hiring Darrell Dickey away from Memphis to be offensive coordinator and now Elko to lead the defense. Joining Fisher from Florida State are tight ends coach Tim Brewster, running backs coach Jay Graham and receivers coach Dameyune Craig. Fisher also retained A&M offensive line coach Jim Turner.
Grinch leaving for Ohio State
Washington State defensive coordinator Alex Grinch is leaving the Cougars and joining Ohio State as an assistant coach, a person with knowledge of the decision told the Associated Press on Thursday.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was still being finalized. Ohio State spokesman Jerry Emig says there would be no announcement on the addition of a 10th assistant coach on Urban Meyer’s staff until next week at earliest. A new NCAA rule goes into effect after this season that allows FBS teams to expand staffs to 10 full-time assistant coaches.
Sports Illustrated first reported Grinch was heading to Ohio State.
Grinch, an Ohio native who played at Division III powerhouse Mount Union, has been with Washington State since 2015. The 37-year-old directed a defense ranked 16th in the country in yards allowed per game (323.3) and 34th in yard per play (5.13) this season. The Cougars ranked second in the Pac-12 in both those categories. Washington State also ranked eighth in the nation in tackles for loss with 103.
Grinch is from Grove City, Ohio, just outside of Columbus, where Ohio State is located. Before becoming defensive coordinator at Washington State, Grinch spent three seasons at Missouri and three at Wyoming.
Williams named to Ducks’ staff
EUGENE, Ore. — The Oregon Ducks have named Donte Williams outside linebackers coach.
Williams comes to Oregon after spending a season as an assistant at Nebraska, coaching cornerbacks and performing other duties. Before that he was cornerbacks coach at Arizona for a season.
Williams, who played at Idaho State, was also an assistant at San Jose State.