Was hiring Mike Elko a 'grand slam' for Texas A&M?

The hire still leaves a lot of people with questions about whether or not A&M got the right man for the job and what the hire says about the level of the job.

Was hiring Mike Elko a 'grand slam' for Texas A&M?

HOUSTON — Texas A&M football brought back a familiar face to be their new head coach following the firing of Jimbo Fisher.

Mike Elko was officially announced as the new head coach on Monday after spending the past two seasons as the head coach at Duke. Elko had previously served as defensive coordinator under Fisher before landing his first head coaching job at Duke.

READ: Texas A&M hires Duke coach Mike Elko to replace Jimbo Fisher

The hiring of Elko still leaves a lot of people with questions about whether or not the Aggies got the right man for the job and what the hire says about the position at Texas A&M.

Here is what Josh Pate of “Lake Kick With Josh Pate” had to say about the hire on Sunday night.

Can Mike Elko be the CEO that Texas A&M football needs?

Pate said that Texas A&M football has not had a high-level CEO running the program in a long while, explaining that the people around Fisher often described him as being “unorganized.”

“Well, how can you say that about Jimbo Fisher? I mean, isn’t the head coach the CEO of the program? Well, he’s supposed to be. It just was never a comfort zone. It was never the way that anyone around Jimbo Fisher would describe him,” Pate said. “In fact, they would describe they would actually quite the opposite. They describe him as unorganized. They would describe him as a guy who needed a CEO-type around him because he wasn’t that everyone has strengths and weaknesses. This is not bang-on Jimbo Fisher night. I’m just saying if you want to if you want to correct course and you want to fill in the blanks that were not filled in previously, that’s how you do it.”

Pate said that Elko fits that need for the A&M program, especially with his previous history as their defensive coordinator.

“You go find the guy who knows your program because he was there and therefore he knows some of the I’s that need to be dotted and T’s that need to be crossed,” Pate said. “But also, if you didn’t have a CEO type and there was just, there were some loose ends here in there that end up being the difference in one-possession games on fields on Saturdays, go get a guy who does fit that description and Mike Elko does.”

Mike Elko has arrived in College Station. pic.twitter.com/4KV1Py0Dp8

— Carter Karels (@CarterKarels) November 27, 2023

Was the Mike Elko hire ‘flashy enough’ for Texas A&M?

Pate said while most Texas A&M fans seem to like the hire of Elko, there are those outside of the fanbase who don’t seem to think the hire was flashy enough for the program.

“I’ve had some points of contention on this. Not many. I’ll grant you that most A&M fans seem to like this hire. I’ve actually had more people from the outside talk about how they don’t think it’s flashy enough, and to that, I just say that’s not a serious football-related point,” Pate said. “I could I just don’t care. Flash wins nothing.”

Pate cited the example of Southern California hiring Lincoln Riley away from Oklahoma two years ago.

“You know who made a flashy, splashy hire recently? USC did,” he said. “USC is sitting at home nowhere close to the PAC 12 Championship Game this weekend. Now, that may change in the future, but USC won the press conference. They got a ton of coverage on this show.”

While critics may bring up whether or not a coach is the “right fit” for a particular school, Pate said the bottom line is winning.

“Winning cures everything,” he said. “The right way to fit at Texas A&M or USC or anywhere else is to win. Don’t care if you’ve ever worn cowboy boots before. Don’t care what your accent is. I care that you understand how to build and sustain an organization. I care that you understand how to acquire and develop talent. I want to know that you understand how to run a major program and deal with a lot of the off-the-fields that come with that. I want to know that you’re structured, and I want to know that you get how to promote it and mark it properly and not just say, ‘Oh, let’s do some social media stuff.’ And I want to know that you can hire a high-level staff and have a singular vision. That’s what fit is at Texas A&M or anywhere else.”

Mike Elko is not a splash hire but is the right hire.

Riley – splash = TBD
Kelly – splash = working
Lanning – not splash = working
Cristobal – splash = TBD
Norvell- not splash = working

It’s about timing, fit, philosophy, adaptability

— David Nuño (@DavidNuno) November 27, 2023

Was Mike Elko a ‘grand slam’ hire for Texas A&M?

Even before Fisher was fired, Pate described the opening at Texas A&M as an elite job, explaining that everything is in place like the resources and facilities for a coach to come in a compete for a national championship.

Texas A&M could be so much more pic.twitter.com/MD0ZB2PBnY

— Josh Pate (@LateKickJosh) October 16, 2023

The right coach will dominate at Texas A&M because it’s an elite job

They’ve just never hired him pic.twitter.com/jqBG6MbAKZ

— Josh Pate (@LateKickJosh) November 13, 2023

However, some came to criticize his stance over the past few weeks especially after a list of potential candidates surfaced over the weekend prior to Elko being hired on Sunday.

“But if you’re asking me if I think this proves my opinion wrong? Blank, no. It doesn’t. No, I think everything I thought about the value of the A&M job, it’s just,” Pate said censoring himself. “I think you’re chasing the unicorn when you imagine what a Tier 1 job being open is actually like. I think Georgia is one. I think Ohio State’s one. I think Oklahoma’s one. I do think A&M is one.”

Pate explained how recent coaching searches at those schools ended with them taking a chance with candidates with limited to no head coaching experience.

“I mentioned those programs because let me ask you something. They’ve all hired coaches semi-recently. Where were the Grand Slam hires?” he said. “The grand slam doesn’t happen. The grand slam hire doesn’t happen. In other words, the move that you think a Tier 1 program should be able to go out there and make happen actually doesn’t happen in other words, I had folks thinking, ‘Well unless they go pry Ryan Day away (from Ohio State) or (Clemson’s) Dabo Swinney, that’s proof that this really isn’t the job that Josh made it out to be.’ No, nobody does that. No job when it comes open does that.”

Pate described a grand slam hire as being a school that went out and hired an already established championship-caliber coach to their program. He cited Alabama hiring Nick Saban as being the only grand slam hire when he was brought in back in 2007 following a short tenure in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins.

“Don’t, don’t give me Kirby Smart. Dude had never been a head coach a day in his life when Georgia hired him. Don’t give me Lincoln (Riley) in Oklahoma. Ditto. Don’t give me Lincoln at USC because he hadn’t done anything there. Dan Lanning never been a head coach when Oregon went and hired him,” he said.

He said all of these schools took chances on these candidates who had never been head coaches before.

“What about Dabo? What about Dabo? Dabo? Never even been a coordinator at Clemson before they elevated him. Keep going,” he said. “Steve Sarkisian (at Texas) could be in the playoff. Sark, he’d been a head coach that failed multiple times and had to beg for a job as an off-the-field guy at Alabama to even get back in any kind of standing that would get him a job down the road.”

Pate explained the grand slam hire just does not happen as most people would define it.

“My point is, I remember when these guys were hired. I remember all the list of the dream candidates and they didn’t come true because the grand slam hire doesn’t happen as you define it,” he said.

Watch the full segment on Lake Kick below:

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