DURHAM, N.C. — Duke made a rapid climb under Mike Elko. Now they’re searching for a new coach after an unusually short tenure.
Texas A&M officially named Elko its next coach on Monday, ending Elko’s two-year stint that saw the Blue Devils win 16 games and twice reach bowl games. That marked only the second time in nearly a century that a Duke coach was on the job for three or fewer seasons.
Athletics director Nina King said it had been “a busy day” that included conversations deep into Sunday night with Elko as he was engaged in talks with A&M, where he worked as defensive coordinator before taking over in Durham in 2021.
“We’ll be thorough in our process and we will certainly work swiftly as we have done before,” King said in a statement to reporters Monday, though she didn’t take questions.
That will be important. NCAA rules permit players to enter the transfer portal for 30 days after a coaching change, allowing them to formally explore moves elsewhere. Additionally, the portal window officially opens next Monday, which offers coaching staffs the ability to seek out help from other schools.
The school needed 12 days to hire Elko after David Cutcliffe’s exit.
The last time a Duke coach stayed three or fewer seasons came when Steve Spurrier left for Florida after a 1987-89 run that included the program’s last Atlantic Coast Conference title in his final season. Elko and Spurrier are the only Duke coaches to stay three or fewer years since 1925, spanning the Blue Devils’ time in the Southern Conference before becoming a charter ACC member in 1953.
King said associate head coach and running backs coach Trooper Taylor would work as the interim coach while the school searches for Elko’s replacement. She said she met with the players Monday morning, and has Zoom meetings scheduled for that night with verbally committed recruits as well as in the coming days with the families of current Blue Devils players.
Elko won nine games and a bowl in his debut season, then guided Duke to a seven-win regular season with a weekend win against Pittsburgh. This year’s team opened with a rout of preseason ACC favorite Clemson, cracked the AP Top 25 amid a 4-0 start and even hosted ESPN’s “College GameDay” for the first time in football — after multiple visits here for the storied men’s basketball program — ahead of a ranked-vs-ranked matchup against Notre Dame.
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