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Texas A&M Football

Ross Bjork recaps search that resulted in Texas A&M landing Mike Elko

November 29, 2023
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The search for Texas A&M's new football coach is officially complete. On Wednesday's edition of TexAgs Radio, Texas A&M Director of Athletics Ross Bjork explained the hiring process, discussed why Mike Elko was ultimately the guy and much more.


 

Key notes from Ross Bjork interview

  • Look at baseball and women's basketball. From a profile standpoint, hiring a football coach was similar. We wanted a high-profile sitting head coach. Joni Taylor and Jim Schlossnagle did not have to leave their positions. Mike Elko did not have to leave Duke. All the coaches we talked to didn't have to leave, but they wanted to talk to Texas A&M. With the exception of Jamie Morrison and Brian Kortan, the head coaches we have hired have all been sitting head coaches. It's a testament to A&M. You can have the best AD in the world, but you have to have the infrastructure that is Texas A&M. It's my job to package it and recruit coaches to come to A&M.
     
  • The first week of the coaching search was a volume of activities to talk to former players and candidates. It was hundreds of phone calls. By the weekend of ACU, we wanted to zero in on who we wanted to talk to again. By Thanksgiving, we were still working to phone. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the funnel got more narrow. People had to play games. I went to the LSU game. We came back from LSU, and we were figuring out where we were. Mark A. Welsh III was deeply involved. You have conversations and ask who is ready and how do we get this thing done.
     
  • It goes back to when Elko was here as a defensive coordinator. I looked at all of the coaching staff and saw how he could be a head coach. I got to know him from the beginning, and he wanted to be and wanted help getting there. In the fall of 2021, he got a job. He had interviewed before, but he wanted to go to the right opportunity. Look at what he did at Duke. He had a QB injury too. If his quarterback doesn't get hurt, maybe he wins 9 to 10 games this year. Elko was at the top of our list from the beginning. We wanted to have several conversations with him. We talked about staff names. We talked timeline. That second convo, we knew he was ready, and his vision matched up.
     
  • As a leader, if you go to a linear path and say, “This is the only choice,” you set yourself up for failure. What if that is not the right option? I looked at everything Saturday night, and you have conversations with people on campus and what the contracts look like. When you cast a wide net, and you have sitting coaches who want to be involved, it can be really complicated.
     
  • Everyone was active. I cannot control reports. I can control what the right decision is. I respect coach Mark Stoops. I appreciate what he said in his statement. He is a sitting head coach in the SEC. He has done a good job at Kentucky. Everything was kept fluid until the very end. We believed Mike Elko was the right man. He was prepared for this job. I saw the flurry of activity on Sunday after everything was done. Oh, these are all my emails. I don’t read my mentions on Twitter. I gave that up a couple of years ago, so who knows what that looked like. My son reads and laughs at all things that are probably not a whole lot to laugh at. I get it. These are emotional decisions, but we have to take the emotion out and see what is the reality.
     
  • You try not to compensate one way or another. That's easy to do. Comparisons and these things will always be brought up. At the end of the day, does the person have the right plan to win at the highest level? Do they have a recruiting, academic or NIL plan? Elko has already had two NIL meetings with the group from Texas Aggies United.
     
  • I said from the beginning that this is not an 8-4 job. Does someone have the chops to do this job? We made a big decision to make a change, so with that comes a lot of pressure. Are they ready for that? All of those things go into it. Did we get it right? The reactions of players, recruiting, donors, fans and coaches matter.
     
  • Time will tell. You looked at a couple of hires, one within our league, and the contract was not the same as ours. The value was different, but the incentive structure was different. Even before the change, I thought the incentive structure on contracts was going to have to change anyway because of the 12-team College Football Playoff. You eliminate the SEC going to the Sugar Bowl or Cotton Bowl because that is not a part of the playoff. The number we are paying coach Elko is still in the top 20 of coaching salaries in the country. I don’t think one program can reset the market per se, but I think this will be a trend. Schlossnagle's contract does not have an incentive if we just go to a regional. We are paying him a very large base salary that was very competitive, but he does not have an incentive for that.
     
  • You have to sit back and elevate the program in how it was functioning on a daily basis. I thought the decision-making structure and organization were not leading to confidence inside the program. That had been going on for a little while. I thought we had made the right staff changes, and offensively, coach Bobby Petrino was highly experienced and was going to shake things up. We had the right QB in Conner Weigman. All of those pieces were in alignment.
     
  • You had a tough loss against Miami. What does that do to confidence? We fought in the Alabama game. We were right there. That leads to maybe more lack of confidence. To me, it was a total analysis, and I just thought going into Ole Miss weekend, I wanted to see what the demeanor of our team was. When we got back, I looked at the calendar and saw we had a Board of Regents meeting. I knew we would have a conversation about it. What do the next two weeks look like? That is what looming. Then transfer portal, signing day and the end of the season. We needed to provide stability. If we were going to make a decision, we needed to do it now. We needed to figure out the money pieces of it. I did not feel we could advance.
     
  • You have to be smart about how we operate. We invest in football and will continue to. Coach Elko will bring an efficient smart plan. The Thursday night travel was really not a lot of money. That was a $400,000 expense over five road games. That was more about the morale. You are gone an extra night. Ainias Smith talked about getting to hotels at 1 a.m. Before the Miami game, they got to the hotel at about 2 a.m. That was not a money thing.
     
  • Our staff pool was $13.5 million. Does it have to be that way? If you do it smartly and get the right guys, yeah, you will spend a lot of money, but that is $2.5 million less. We can still invest at a smart level. We will handle Jimbo Fisher's payout over the next seven years in our budget. That is a separate bucket.
     
  • Elijah Robinson wanting to come back speaks to A&M and the culture here. They love it here. They are provided resources, and you play at a high level. If you are from Texas, where else would you want to go? We will have transition and turnover. That is part of it. It speaks to Elijah Robinson's leadership. They know Mike Elko.
     
  • We sat down with Robinson last week, and I wanted to hear what his vision was and what he thinks we need from a program standpoint. I wanted to make sure he was given an opportunity where we could hear him out. Absolutely he was there as a prospect. Let's go win a bowl game under his leadership. He will be in demand. He is already getting phone calls. Elko has been proactive with him. He has a new contract on the table. He has things coming his way, and he has to analyze what is best for him and his family.
     
  • One of the factors behind players not jumping in the portal right away speaks to the potential they see here. Coach Elko asked in a team meeting, "Who thinks we can win a national championship next year?" The whole room raised their hand. Given the talent, to me, we can be right there on the doorstep.
     
  • We have been in the wilderness, and we are trying to find our pathway out. It’s all about who is the leader and who is operating the plan. Do you match a great plan and leader with A&M resources? That's where we can take off. That is what has been holding us back.
     
  • That Notre Dame game opening weekend? How electric is that going to be? We need momentum on the field too. What is the fanbase and recruiting reaction? Winning solves a lot of problems. It's not the most important, but it's the most visible. I want to have A&M in the CFP conversation as soon as we can. Our schedule speaks to that next year. Let's go put a plan together and win a lot of games.
     
  • The full schedule comes out on Dec. 13 on the SEC Network. The Texas game is an intense rivalry. Can you imagine that game? It's now an SEC game. I don’t think people have any comprehension of the aura that will be around that game. It will be off the charts.
     
  • The academic and wellness center will done by Aug of 2024. We need to do things on the ground level in Bright and redo the locker room. The indoor track facility opens in January. Blue Bell Park is being studied and analyzed. We hope to start expanding Ellis Field in the summer of 2024. We are working on the indoor tennis facility in the city of Bryan.
Discussion from...

Ross Bjork recaps search that resulted in Texas A&M landing Mike Elko

22,450 Views | 17 Replies | Last: 4 mo ago by Aggie2
Houstonag
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AG
I am really pleased with where we are now with Elko. There is hope. His verbal skills are outstanding and he knows what he is talking about. Especially his command of the business especially the need to adapt.
Bobby George
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AG
Now that our best defensive coach has returned to lead the team, let's get our best offensive coach back, Kliff Kingsbury.
Z Team
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AG
Can't listen to this arrogant ***** talk about his great process that ultimately led him to Mark Stoops and only when the crap hit the fan did he ignore his process.
redjalapeno-87
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He Bjorked it up when his "process" led him to offer Mark Stoops. That is why he will not answer the question.
caveman-economist
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AG
A thousand calls the first week? That'd be 1 call every 8 minutes for 20 hours a day for 7 straight days. I'm going to wager... not 1,000.
Texmexag
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AG
Remember the scene in Bullworth where Warren Beaty has to dress like a rapper to roam the streets of Compton?

That's what Olin looks like in that interview.
TAMU74
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AG
Good interview.
However, I may have missed this or just didn't understand, but was Mark Stoops offered the HC position?
If so, did he change his mind or did we?
Delighted Elko is the HC
aphi1983
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jim 78
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AG
Those other coaches are winners. He was pushing a 35-55 losing sec record coach on us! He deserves whatever flack he gets. Yes it worked out but we got lucky even though he bjorked it up.
greg.w.h
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AG
We hired a yes man with a nose for PR. Glad he was the public face of the mad money firing of Jimbo for $77 million. Easier to explain firing him if Elko doesn't work out…
MaroonStain
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AG
Elko was the only correct choice from Day 1. Pretty short discussion and search. "Nationwide search" meant North Carolina.
Aggie1188
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greg.w.h said:

We hired a yes man with a nose for PR. Glad he was the public face of the mad money firing of Jimbo for $77 million. Easier to explain firing him if Elko doesn't work out…
Elko would been up for the Penn St, Notre Dame, or Michigan job in the coming years, I've heard on Espn. He was the right hire now.
Surly Thor
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AG
Bobby George said:

Now that our best defensive coach has returned to lead the team, let's get our best offensive coach back, Kliff Kingsbury.


You're kidding right? The dude literally spoke in documentary on JM that he basically didn't do s*** and just let Johnny do whatever he wanted.
AgOutsideAustin
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AG
Djork got his azz bailed out by Elko. Not impressed with his all encompassing search leading to Stoops.
TheGreatEscape
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Bjork lied at the Elko introduction ceremony.
oldaggnms
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AG
Are you kidding me Bork? Stop patting yourself on the back, and start pitching in trying to rescue the offense before we lose the 2024-25 momentum we have built. One week to the early portal, and we are expecting Coach Robinson to plug the holes left by three superb recruiters. Give me a break!
Aggie2
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Bjork ought to be a used car salesman. No intention to be insulting to used car sales people.
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