Texas A&M football: What would be a successful first year for Mike Elko?

Nov 18, 2023; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA; Duke Blue Devils head coach Mike Elko looks on from
Nov 18, 2023; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA; Duke Blue Devils head coach Mike Elko looks on from / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Elko was a safe hire by Texas A&M football this offseason after the program parted ways with Jimbo Fisher following a disappointing tenure.

The hire made sense. Elko served as defensive coordinator under Fisher so he knew what would be expected from him in College Station. However, he had only been a Power Five head coach -- or a head coach in general, for that matter -- for just two years. He went 9-4 in his first year at Duke in 2022 and then 7-5 in 2023.

The regression in 2023 isn't exactly his fault -- we can blame that on the injury to Riley Leonard -- and just making a bowl game at Duke has to be considered a success. The program hasn't been known for football and even its most successful coach, David Dutcliffe, struggled to get the Blue Devils to the postseason at the end of his career.

But now that he's officially an Aggie again, what can be considered a successful season for him in 2024?

Texas A&M is coming off another disappointing season which spelled the end of Fisher but many experts believe that the Aggies will be a Top 25 team to begin the 2024 season. If that's the case, the expectations for year one of Elko will be elevated.

I mean, we saw him win nine games in his first year at Duke. He's capable of winning 9-10 games with a much-improved talent pool at Texas A&M, right? He is, but it all depends on the schedule.

Looking at the schedule, things don't start off easy. The Aggies will host Notre Dame at Kyle Field and I could see this being a win simply because the Irish will be relying on a new quarterback and it's going to be a raucous environment. Then they'll face McNeese before going to Florida. I could see Florida being a loss because The Swamp is no joke, but they'll end up reeling off three straight wins before a by against Bowling Green, Arkansas, and Missouri.

Sitting at 5-1 after a bye, the Aggies will beat Mississippi State before losing to LSU in a thriller and then beating South Carolina on the road to improve to 7-2. They'll win one of their final three games (New Mexico) to finish 8-4.

Overall, it should be considered a successful season compared to the years of falling short under Fisher, but this should be looked at as a rebuilding year. Anything less than 7-5 would be a failure but anything more is a success and something to build on. With Elko, I think he can be a program-builder, so I have no doubt he'll get the job done.

Next. Way too early Top 25 projections for 2024. Way too early Top 25 projections for 2024. dark