Mike Elko, Duke HC
This would be another hire right out of the James Franklin playbook, a head coach in a power conference who is overachieving at a non-traditional football school with high academic standards.
Elko was the defensive coordinator at Texas A&M before taking his first head coaching job at Duke. Last season, in Year 1, he led Duke to a 9-4 record, a six-win improvement, and sophomore quarterback Riley Leonard excelled.
Elko and Duke knocked off Clemson in Week 1 of the 2023 season and despite suffering losses to Notre Dame and Florida State are still 5-2 and hanging around the top of the ACC. Elko will quickly learn that there is a ceiling at Duke, but if he keeps winning eight or nine games then he’ll be a hot name for a big job like Penn State if the Nittany Lions move on from Franklin.
The biggest piece to this is Riley Leonard. The junior is one of the best quarterbacks in the country and it’ll be crucial to see how Elko does once Leonard moves onto the NFL, either after this season or after next.