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Texas A&M Football

Elko offers optimism for A&M fans at SEC Spring Meetings in Destin

May 28, 2024
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DESTIN, Fla. — Mike Elko’s initial appearance at the Southeastern Conference spring meetings on Tuesday was the latest stop on an apparent barnstorming tour.

The first-year Aggie head football coach has spoken at Texas A&M Coach’s Nights in Brazos County, Fort Worth, Dallas, Austin and Houston. A trip to San Antonio awaits in July — about a week after another trip to Dallas for SEC Media Days.

On those earlier stops, Elko gained a feel for the emotional state of the A&M fan base.

His take? The outlook among Aggies is as bright as the sun beating down on the white sandy beaches of the Florida panhandle.

“I think people are excited,” Elko said to a throng of SEC media. “People have been passionate about Texas A&M’s football for a long time. They want to see us have an extremely successful program.”

Aren’t Aggies always excited in May? Alas, too often, a preseason positive outlook means to “look out” when the season starts.

Seriously, check out A&M’s recent results when entering a season nationally ranked.

“I think maybe the last five months we’ve done a good job instilling confidence back into (fans). Certainly,  when you spend time with them everybody is excited and looking forward to a great fall.”
- A&M head coach Mike Elko

But there’s a feeling — a hope — Elko can justify the optimism of his fans. Elko offered several reasons why that may be the case.

“I think maybe the last five months we’ve done a good job instilling confidence back into (fans),” Elko said. “Certainly, when you spend time with them, everybody is excited and looking forward to a great fall.”

Elko should be advised to use the term “autumn” in the future.

A&M has had too many falls — pratfalls, actually — in the previous two football seasons.

The Aggies have fallen in Oxford and Auburn. They’ve fallen in Starkville and Knoxville. They’ve fallen in Tuscaloosa, Baton Rouge and Miami. They even fell at Kyle Field to Appalachian State.

Consequently, Jimbo Fisher fell out of favor.

Enter Elko. He posted 16 wins in two seasons at Duke. That’s a 25 percent higher victory volume than Fisher managed the last two seasons at A&M.

Elko’s presence in itself is sufficient reason for Aggies to maintain that sunny outlook. But there’s more.

“There’s a lot of talented players in that locker room,” Elko said. “I think there’s a lot of talented players that are not really excited about the way the last two years have gone. I think that’s always a good recipe for getting kids' attention. When you can very clearly point out where they’re not getting the results they want, that gives the opportunity you need and desire to hear ways to do it better.

“So we’ve been able to do that. I think that’s what’s helped get some buy-in to the culture we’re trying to bring in.”

Bringing in a culture is great. Elko needs to bring in guys who can block. Offensive line play has been as disappointing as A&M’s win total.

Elko has addressed that issue through the transfer portal and on the coaching staff by bringing in offensive line coach Adam Cushing.

In Houston, Elko gave a ray of hope with a promise the line will be better. On Tuesday, he offered reasons why.

Zoe Kelton, TexAgs
Mike Elko went 17-8 in his two seasons with Duke, including a bowl win in year one and a top-10 victory over Clemson in the 2023 opener. 

“I think I’m really confident in Adam Cushing,” Elko said. “I think he’s the best offensive line coach in the country. I think the job he’s done with those guys has been great. We’ve been able to add some pieces to it.

“I think those guys (linemen) are very prideful. I don’t think they’re very excited about the reputation they have in the Texas A&M community for last year. I think they’re very hungry to change that narrative.”

The narrative may change. The quarterback will not. That’s another reason the sunny outlook may be justified.

Had A&M needed a quarterback, Elko probably could have brought in Riley Leonard, his quarterback from Duke.

Instead, Elko stayed with Conner Weigman.

Leonard transferred to Notre Dame, A&M’s opening opponent.

“Obviously, I have a ton of respect for Riley,” Elko said. “I would love to have been able to bring him wherever I went.

“Very quickly, when we did a roster dive, we realized we have Conner Weigman. He was a kid that we had recruited when I was there (as DC) and certainly had a lot of familiarity with.

“He was kind of ‘the guy’ at Texas A&M. I think it made it a bad fit. Not to be disrespectful to Riley or anything, I just think we had our guy in Conner, and that’s the route we went.”

Is that the route to take A&M to nine or 10 wins? Or maybe even the playoffs?

Obviously, that won’t be determined until sometime in autumn.

But on a sunny May day in Florida, it’s another reason to believe the future — indeed, the near future — truly might be bright, and the fall really could be great.

Discussion from...

Elko offers optimism for A&M fans at SEC Spring Meetings in Destin

6,321 Views | 4 Replies | Last: 15 days ago by TAMU74
AGDAD14
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Hoping in hopeā€¦ a good recipe for another fall?
lagoag
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Count me in, the future does indeed looks bright.
TX_Aggie37
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AG
It's just nice to have a coach that can speak intelligently and has substance to his words. Hopefully he has success here.
TAMU74
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AG
As always I'll be cautiously optimistic.
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