Mike Elko Leaves for Texas A&M DC Job

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the off-season…The annual gut-punch comes early.

This time the damage wasn’t done by a player’s off-field mistake, but by a coach’s increased paycheck. Mike Elko, defensive coordinator and almost indisputably the best thing to come out of the 2017 season for Notre Dame, decided to accept the buckets of money Texas A&M threw at him. He’ll be the Aggies’ defensive coordinator. A&M had previously pursued Dave Aranda from LSU before the Tigers gave him a big contract to stay. The move was first reported by TexAgs.com and Bruce Feldman of SI. Pete Thamel of Yahoo provided some contract details:

The Athletic’s Matt Fortuna reported that ND made a ‘competitive offer’ to keep Elko, but it apparently wasn’t good enough to top that.

Elko’s work with the Notre Dame defense was well-documented this year, as he transformed the VanGorder disaster of 2014-16 into a very solid unit this fall. (Oddly enough, the Irish’s defensive S&P+ rating ranked 27th in FBS

[20th among Power 5 schools], which was only up one spot from 2016’s 28th. Clear case of stats lying, no?)

The clearest example of the defense’s improvement came from a Tweet by the South Bend Tribune’s Mike Vorel, who noted that Te’von Coney’s 2017 numbers compared favorably to Jaylon Smith’s 2015 numbers. Coney is not as good as Smith and likely never will be, but it underscored what Elko did to the ND defense, which shined in several games.

USC and NC State were probably their finest performances, but even the loss to Georgia showed their mettle. You might remember that Bulldogs team, which scored 20 points in South Bend and were frankly fortunate to get that many (recall the inhuman 4th-down TD catch and the other TD being preceded by a debatable personal foul); they dropped 45 in regulation against Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl on Monday.

There’s little way around it: Elko’s departure is very damaging in the short term. He and fellow coordinator Chip Long were the centerpieces of the promised ‘reboot’ of Notre Dame football, one that produced a 10-3 season. Long certainly had his moments this year, but few would dispute that Elko was the star of this season, as evidenced by A&M giving him a Godfather offer.

With Elko gone, naturally speculation turns to who’s next. Mike Elston is still on staff, did a reasonably good job as the interim guy in ’16, and has been with Kelly a long time, so he’d be the easy pick. Bob Diaco is a natural curiosity given his availability, but Vorel has said there is ‘no chance’ of that happening. Linebackers coach Clark Lea could be promoted, but he seems likely to follow Elko, as he has for his last couple of stops. Brian Kelly himself said in his statement (below) that ND would ‘add’ a defensive coordinator soon. If read literally, that would seem to indicate another outside hire. It would make sense for ND to do that given the success this year’s outside hires produced.


Until we get a replacement, though, talk is sure to center on Elko’s departure and what it means. Hopefully ND can ace the next hire the way they did this one – and hopefully if they do, there isn’t a desperate and deep-pocketed SEC team waiting to outbid the Irish for his services the next time around.

(Photo credit: Indianapolis Star)

By |2018-05-09T22:25:38+00:00January 4th, 2018|18S Reads|157 Comments

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King Kenny
King Kenny

I cant believe this. You mean to tell me that a program like Notre Dame cant pony up and keep a coach who completely changed the dynamic of our program overnight. You do whatever needs to be done to keep Elko. You pony up for what he does on the field as well as recruiting. He is a bulldog on the recruiting trail and it paid dividends as we just saw. I am so disgusted right now. You are coming off a great season. Your program was building momentum and just like that we are back to square freaking one looking for someone to fill the huge void that Elko leaves. Its garbage like this that keeps us from getting back to truly being a elite program. Thank God for this early signing period because I guarantee quite a few of the prospects we just signed would leave had this happened a couple of weeks ago. I wont be surprised if a couple of them try and force their way out regardless now. I just cant believe this. I am speechless and I am disgusted. Today is a sad day to be a Irish fan. I bet anything the next DC wont even be close to being as good as Elko especially when it comes to recruiting. This is the direction that college football is going with these elite DC being paid well. LSU just gave their DC 2.5 million per. He is worth it. Give Elko 2 million per if thats what it takes to keep him. This is going to have a crippling effect moving forward. Elko was PERFECT for Notre Dame and now he is gone. The players have to be in shock as well as the defensive recruits that just signed.

COMPLETE GARBAGE!!!

Publius2010
Publius2010

We can theoretically keep up on price, we just don’t care enough to. Or possibly the athletic department is dead broke, with Kelly spending more time fundraising for the Campus Crossroads project than coaching the team in the lead up to 2016, ND being unwilling to pay their best assistant coach more, and moving a home game to Yankee Stadium in the midst of what projects to be a brutal November run.

Orlok
Orlok

The football program makes $40 million per year in *profit* (after current salaries), according to the people running university donor relations. I refuse to believe we can’t pay more.

sleepy man
sleepy man

I was going to post this in the other thread that’s been ongoing here the last couple hours re:Elko, but I’ll throw it up here now. Do you think this has any effect on the Tillery/Coney decisions? My gut tells me it does, but what do I know. I wouldn’t want to play for a new coordinator AGAIN, unless Kelly hits another homerun. Ugh :/

Irishchamp23
Irishchamp23

Players have until Jan. 15 to declare so perhaps it depends on who the new guy is. But it may not matter if the info they got from the NFL is “return to school.” I don’t know that any of those guys are going in the top 2 rounds.

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

This is a tremendous fail. There’s no good reason Notre Dame can’t outbid Texas A&M. “It’s icky that coaches make so much money” is not a good reason.

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

To be fair, ND is already considered in the top-10 nationally for paying coordinators* and “made a competitive offer” to keep Elko, so it seems they were at least willing to raise his paycheck from a contract signed 12 months ago. So it’s not simply as if they balked on paying him a lot of money to stay based on principle or aren’t paying enough to keep good people.

I’m not trying to die on the hill that they did everything they could to keep him, because I don’t think anyone really knows if that’s the case. (Clearly not, based on him leaving). But it sort of has a feel like Elko wanted to hitch his wagon to Jimbo, get to the SEC and that Texas pool of talent and put himself more on the map for the future, all while getting a huge raise. Not much Notre Dame can do if that is the case. Still sucks he would leave after one year, no doubt about that.

*Source for that: https://twitter.com/Matt_Fortuna/status/949016415394254848

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

I read “competitive offer” as “not a matching offer”, though obviously that’s ambiguous. If the ND media are good at all, the first question of the next press conference involving Jack Swarbrick should be “did not match the salary offer of Texas A&M and, if no, why not?” If they did and he went to A&M, well, c’est la vie (and, as you note, there are reasons to be attracted to that job). If they did not match, they should explain why.

Basically, if ND media are doing their jobs right, we’ll have more information. I don’t expect that we will.

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

That is a question that needs to be answered, for sure to know just how “competitive” it really was and what the mindset for such a decision was. My takeaway was if it truly was a comparable offer (and with incentives, who knows), then the other factors in play probably tipped the balance that ND couldn’t match. They probably gave him a 50% raise offer on his salary from just hazarding a guess, and if that wasn’t going to cut it, it just might not have been about making a few extra bucks considering other attractive factors that A&M could offer.

Publius2010
Publius2010

That A&M actually wants to win?

tlndma
tlndma

Word was that A&M had come after him last month. Kelly said he was staying. So it seems ND may have matched A&M’s 1st offer and then A&M came back with a bigger offer and this time ND said “no”.

Publius2010
Publius2010

“The credit overwhelmingly belongs to the ND defense (with a shout-out to some Tiger kickers) holding their opponent to just 2.83 points per trip inside the Irish 40 yard line.”

Yeah, screw paying that guy more, we can replace him

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

It appears the SBT is actually doing their job right (of course it was a real newspaper instead of Scout or Rivals) – https://www.ndinsider.com/football/analysis-sizing-up-brian-kelly-s-next-step-after-mike/article_4c3f8a1a-f1bd-11e7-9bb1-b3dbf8f8a4e9.html

The news is that they matched him at 1.5M and then didn’t go above that because they didn’t want to get in a bidding war. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Irishchamp23
Irishchamp23

Thanks for sharing.

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

https://twitter.com/PeteSampson_/status/949129031173246976

How do these guys not know this information? It is literally Sampson’s one job to know this information and information like it. His bills are paid by obtaining information about Notre Dame football. And he doesn’t know (or, apparently, even have a sense of) how much the assistants are getting paid.

Publius2010
Publius2010

Now imagine how bad you would feel to pay $100 a year for a site that runs on speculative BS. At least 18S Premium has gift baskets.

KG
KG

They were already in a bidding war. They didn’t want to stay in a bidding war. Welp.

KG
KG

A&M just hired a head coach and is paying him $75 million over 10 years, guaranteed. ND has some rich boosters, sure, but we don’t have anything like Texas oil boosters willing to drop whatever it takes to hire an NC winning coach away from a Florida State and pay a DC the highest of any in CFB. ND can pay a lot–and it seems they’ve realized they have to. But there are limits, limits that a massive state school with an alumni base that dwarfs ND’s and nowhere near the academic restrictions, etc. doesn’t have.

I also wonder how much of this is A. getting out ahead of next year, where we’ll be hard pressed to duplicate this year–is Elko jumping to more short-term security even if it’s more volatile long term? and B. he wants an opportunity to have “SEC defensive coordinator” on his resume and show he can coach in the perceived (even if it’s not always true) best conference? I’d wonder if being Independent hurt us here, but Elko already coached in the ACC, so it’s not like us being in the ACC would have made any difference.

I don’t know. But it shines a light on the fact that there are programs out there who have a lot more money than we do for this kind of thing. Someone is going to reply with endowment numbers, showing they have no idea what the endowment is for and that none of this comes from the endowment. It’s about athletic booster money, and we aren’t in the same league as most major schools with huge fanbases and/or dedicated sugar daddies like Oregon or Okie State. Now if one of you has billions just lying around and wants to fix that, I’m all for it.

Coyote1985
Coyote1985

Shoot, if only ND had a large or rabid fan base, we’d have kept Elko! (I kid, I kid!) I think that ND could very well afford to match Elko but decided not to for some reason – effect on other coaches? Principal? Who knows.

What is clear is that we shouldn’t waste emotions on Elko. He’s gone. Let’s look to the future. Some easy names that have been thrown out there are Clark Lea and Mike Elston, just because they know the system and are very good coaches. Then, bring in a top notch guy to coach the safeties. It won’t knock anyone’s socks off, but would provide some good continuity for next year.

KG
KG

“I think that ND could very well afford to match Elko”

Based on? I’m legitimately asking. I realize that a few years back ND was second to Texas in some calculation of athletic department earnings, so clearly money is coming in, but that was also a few years ago. TV contracts have changed a lot since then, and I’m not sure our “brand” has kept up, and ND doesn’t keep all that money in the athletic department, and I don’t remember if it included booster donations as income or just merch sales.

If someone has an idea of how this works and can spell it out, rather than just “gosh we have a lot of money I’m sure so of course we can pay the same amount” I’d like to see it. ND is nationally known and popular, with a large fanbase but a small alumni base compared to most D1 schools. That to me suggests that the perception of having oodles of money may not be the actual reality in terms of donations to the athletic department, but I have no way of knowing that for a fact.

Coyote1985
Coyote1985

Well, in part based on the money that they paid to BVG (7th highest paid assistant in the country), Elko (top 10), not to mention the money that they threw at Charlie Weis. I could be wrong, but I have never gotten the impression that ND can’t afford to pay more, just that it doesn’t want to be leading the pack – it will be top 10, but not the top. No hard figures to back it up, admittedly.

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

I don’t pretend to know the finances in detail, but it sounds reasonable that they COULD have had the money to match if they really wanted to. Who knows, maybe the internal evaluation of Elko’s worth was not as high as the A&M offer so they gave him a chance at a raise to stay at ND and see what he thought but that they weren’t interested in a bidding war relative to what he provided vs. what they think they can replace him with…Also probably don’t want to set a precedent to jack up contracts every year too, but that could be all just my own speculation too.

Granted to an extent “it’s always about the money” is a true saying…But for a high profile move like this, my train of thought is it wasn’t simply just about the money for Elko. If he was going to consider jumping to Jimbo, after that it was just details. That ND did offer him some sort of raise to stay seems to indicate his thought process was his in the best interests of his career to move on at this time. I doubt he’s relocating his family again just to chase a slightly higher paycheck.

KG
KG

This is where I’m at. If it’s a matter of the extra $200,000 to get him to $2M and keep him? Sure, pay it. That should be doable. My argument is mainly against the “ND has a ton of money we should never be outbid!!!” screaming, not so much this particular case that we don’t know the specifics of yet. It’s entirely possible that ND could be outbid. This may not be the case in this instance, but the idea that ND could just walk in and offer any coach has always been silly, ever since NDN was suggesting we could outbid and hire away Saban from Bama (good luck with that).

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

Aye, gotcha, I think we’re pretty much on the same page for this one. Viscerally I totally get the feeling that it stinks that it’s possible to lose a talented coach for a lateral move.

I’m guessing the main catalyst for this move is that Elko thinks Jimbo is the way to go for him, so it doesn’t really matter about the ND counter-offer anyways.

KG
KG

Elko wants to be a head coach. Getting fired when Kelly goes 7-5 next year isn’t a step towards that. A year or two under Jimbo (before Jimbo gets fired, because come on this is A&M and Saban hasn’t retired yet) is a step in that direction.

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

Aww come on, you don’t think he could get an illustrious UConn or Miami (Ohio) offer like other recent Kelly underlings? That’s not good enough? 🙂

Publius2010
Publius2010

How dare you forget Charlie Molnar

KG
KG

He could. After 2 years as an SEC DC, he could get the Tennessee job.

The commenter formerly known as occtipus
The commenter formerly known as occtipus

***TN Athletic Director accidentally hires the duck from the Aflac commercial as head coach, then has to humbly announce that duck will actually be staying with Aflac.

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

Yes. I hadn’t really thought it through, but this makes a *ton* of sense.

Coyote1985
Coyote1985

I agree with you on this.

Orlok
Orlok

As I mentioned above, a university representative (a guy who’s paid to deal with donors) told me the profitability of the football program was $40 million a year. Of course, that does go fast when you give everyone $1 million raises, but man, I would think about it for Elko.

KG
KG

Yeah, you can’t do it for every assistant, but hell it would be nice to recognize the impact he made and match A&M. Make him at least think about staying. Like I said in another comment somewhere here, my objections aren’t specific to this case–I think we could have probably ponied up here. I don’t think we can spend money like an A&M or a Bama consistently.

tlndma
tlndma

I think ND was going to increase his salary and then A&M upped their offer. That’s when ND balked.

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

Actually, and FWIW, I was surprised to discover that A&M has a bigger endowment than ND – https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/the-short-list-college/articles/2017-09-28/10-universities-with-the-biggest-endowments

KG
KG

Which really shouldn’t surprise anyone. It’d be just as wrong, though, to try to use that fact as an explanation for why they could pay Elko more.

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

Really? I don’t think (and the article indicates that) most larger state schools have bigger endowments than ND. UT doesn’t, for instance.

Certainly agree that isn’t the best measure of ability-to-pay, though. But, given they have so much money sloshing around there, I’m inching off my comment about ND having no good reason to outbid A&M.

Plus no state income tax in Texas. That doesn’t hurt when you’re a high earner.

KG
KG

It depends on whether the “state school” is a stand-alone or the whole system. I’m assuming that A&M’s numbers include their multiplicity of campuses. And FWIW, Wikipedia’s list has the UT system as third; they use the article you cited, but a whole crapload of other sources as well:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_colleges_and_universities_in_the_United_States_by_endowment

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

While this is wildly tangential, UT’s is $3.7B, according to their investment group (this was linked off wikipedia) – http://www.utimco.org/scripts/PrivateEndowInfo/Complist.asp

A&M just out here sitting on a pile of cash. Who knew?! Not me. I was under the impression that UT was the sophisticated school and A&M was the cow college.

Addendum: my UT friend texts me “yes it’s a cow college, but a cow college with a huge engineering school in a massive oil state with 50,000 students”. So that makes sense.

KG
KG

Again, would be useful if these sources were better annotated for us. Wki says that’s “system wide” for UT’s $24B number–which makes sense if it also includes Texas Tech, Texas State, and all the UT-Brownsvilles, etc. etc.

Clearwall
Clearwall

Tech, Texas State are not UT schools. UTA, UTD, UTPB, yes.

Clearwall
Clearwall

As a member of an A&M system school, I would imagine these numbers are talking about JUST the CS campus. Most of the Aggie Lights(Tarleton, WT, A&M Commerce) operate completely independently of A&M itself. The only real control the school has over the smaller ones is that the A&M Chancellor has final say over who is put in place to run them. But we never get operating budget or any kind of financial support from College Station

Publius2010
Publius2010

It makes more sense when you realize TAMU is a surprisingly large dog cult located in oil country.

KG
KG

This is truth.

Publius2010
Publius2010

A few years ago it was just another collie cult, now there’re everywhere

Coyote1985
Coyote1985

I’m not necessarily disagreeing with you here, and understand that a school does not use endowment money for paying coaches. However, isn’t an endowment based, in large part, by the amount of donations received from alumni and others? (I may be wrong here) If so, wouldn’t that mean that there are approximately the same number of donations to ND such that ND should at least be competitive with A&M in the amount it can afford to pay its coaches?

KG
KG

Different funds, different pots of money. The endowment is separate from the athletic department fund. Much of endowment growth is from corporate research grants, etc. Those aren’t going to be matched by also giving to buy the team new uniforms. That has to come from boosters. We have less boosters.

Publius2010
Publius2010

/StannisFewer.gif

KG
KG

It’s the same word in classical Japanese. (shrug)

DrIck
DrIck

WE ARE IN CLASSICAL AMERICA, SO SPEAK ENGLISH

KG
KG


Nah.

dannan14
dannan14

Dontcha mean “iie”?

Coyote1985
Coyote1985

I get your point about the grants, which makes sense. But I don’t know if ND has fewer boosters. Sure we have a smaller alumni base, but in terms of merchandising and the money that it makes from football, I think ND is in the top 5 in the country.

Also, I several of the football coaches positions are endowed. Kelly is the Dick Corbett Head Football Coach, and Pat Eilers endowed the defensive backs position. (Not sure if the DC is also endowed or if that has absolutely anything to do with this discussion!)

KG
KG

“Top 5 in the country” in money it makes from football–see my other post. What does that mean? Does that include booster donations? or is it just merchandise sales? TV contracts? What all is involved, and how much of it can then be used to pay a coach? I’ll grant that ND COULD make different choices, because they make a point of saying the funnel money made by the athletic department into funding other things on campus, including general scholarships. Given my position in life right now, I’m not going to yell and scream and say they shouldn’t do that and it should all go to the football coach.

Interesting about the endowed portion. That helps, and would count as booster donations, definitely. Not sure if it counts as income, but it certainly offsets it at least.

cwod
cwod

Same. Does not surprise me at all. I know folks connected to A&M. That school is loaded.

herecometheirish
herecometheirish

LSU raised Aranda’s salary and kept him in the face of an offer from A&M. LSU does not have more money than ND.

Publius2010
Publius2010

I’m actually intrigued on where the money for their athletic department comes from, since the state’s higher ed system is hurting for funding.

cwod
cwod

I looked into the data they report to the feds. Their football team generates less revenue than ND, and their men’s basketball team generates more than ND. And then they have a chunk of revenue that isn’t associated with any team–not sure what that’s from.

Publius2010
Publius2010

Well on the plus side, it’s not like Louisiana has a history of brazen corruption or anything.

cwod
cwod

True, not as an institution, but their athletic department has more revenue than Notre Dame. And as KG and others have noted, ND chooses to use some of their “profit” to give back to the general student body in the form of scholarships and such. LSU does some of that, but apparently not as much.

Athletic departments
ND:
Revenues: $134 million
Expenses: $109 million

LSU:
Revenues: $141 million
Expenses: $124 million

Just football
ND
Revenues: $99 million
Expenses: $39 million

LSU
Revenues: $86 million
Expenses: $30 million

(FY16 data from U.S. Dept. of Education https://ope.ed.gov/athletics/#/)

Publius2010
Publius2010

Look at this freakin’ guy, actually doing his homework here.

DrIck
DrIck

NERD!

cwod
cwod

I commented on another site about this. The endowment absolutely *can* factor in. It doesn’t matter what that money is going toward. It frees up other money to be used for football (or whatever). I’m not saying it does or doesn’t, but it’s easy enough to shift money around. If ND had another billion in the endowment, that’s more money the football program doesn’t need to redistribute to general student scholarships (e.g., maybe use some of that NBC money to pay coaches more http://www.und.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/091316aab.html).

And yes, A&M has a larger endowment than Notre Dame, by close to $1.5 billion.

With that said, I agree with your larger point that other schools have donors (Knight at Oregon, folks in Texas or Oklahoma or the SEC, etc.) who will do (and pay) whatever it takes to win.

Concrete Charlie
Concrete Charlie

It’s remarkable how infrequently most of those guys actually do win though, isn’t it? There is still so much random chance involved in creating a championship. This is not an argument or anything, just an observation.

cwod
cwod

Right. I should have qualified that as “who will do (and pay) whatever *they think* it takes to win.”

Publius2010
Publius2010

Although deep-pocketed donors did make a substantial influence on Oregon and Okie State. They were both pretty mediocre to bad before Knight and Pickens, respectively (Oregon more so than OSU). Now neither of them have won a national championship, but they did both move up towards the top of their conferences and have been in national conversation,

Clearwall
Clearwall

Ryan Ritter made a good point today about Michigan too. How has the cash cow/Brinks truck worked out for Harbaugh?

Publius2010
Publius2010

Sorin guys always make good points.

KG
KG

Sure. My comment is meant to defend against the facile “we’ve got an X billion dollar endowment, just pay the coach from that!” idiocy. Because that’s not how it works. Because ND specifically does use athletic money for academics, they could stop doing that (which I noted in a comment somewhere around here). But that’s different than just raiding the endowment to play coaches.

cwod
cwod

Oh, true.

KG
KG

And to be clear, I agree wholeheartedly that “it’s icky that coaches make so much money” is NOT a good reason. If that’s our reason for not paying coaches market value, we need to drop down to a level where that philosophy doesn’t hurt us. I think ND has shown the willingness to pay money, somewhat foolishly at times, since Weis. That’s not a reason anyone in the Gug uses anymore, it’s just something NDN types mutter as they gripe about whatever it is they are griping about that day.

But philosophy doesn’t provide funding (in academics as well, hah!). Numbers would indicate that a school graduating 2000 at most in a given year is going to bring in less contributions to the athletic department than a school graduating 10,000 a year. Further, while on average ND grads may make more than State School X, that’s a lot smaller pool of people to hit big money and be super boosters. We need an ND Phil Knight to have the money to match an A&M, and all I know is that it isn’t me.

Publius2010
Publius2010

I’d be more receptive to this if Elko was getting more than $1.8 mil/year. That’s something ND shouldn’t balk at for a guy who we were all talking about as a Broyles award candidate this season. The new contracts for Jimbo and Aranda are crazy, but Elko’s numbers don’t look to be at that level.

KG
KG

Which leads me to believe it would have taken a bit more than $1.8M to keep him. How much more, (shruggy emoji)? Again, is it because he saw bad signs for next year? Or wanted to get the SEC resume line? Or both?

Coyote1985
Coyote1985

There was a tweet that the $1.8 million was the first year “base” and that there are a number of incentives.

sleepy man
sleepy man

EQ gone 😑

King Kenny
King Kenny

Whoever EQ is getting his draft advice from he needs to fire them. Huge mistake declaring for the draft coming off the season he had. Wish him the best and hopefully he tests well but he really should have came back.

Coyote1985
Coyote1985

His father made the comment a week or so ago (?) that he recommended that EQ go pro, but it was EQ’s decision. Not sure if he is getting other advice, but I think the father holds a lot of sway and that probably had a lot to do with it.

So, I am sure this is a ridiculously hopeful thought, but what if this means that Amon Ra is coming to ND – they didn’t want to compete for playing time????? (Yeah, stupid idea, I know. Trying to get something positive from this.)

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

Amon-Ra would be a day-1 starter at ND… and, based on the 247 crystal ball predictions, it doesn’t matter. Looks like he’s going to USC.

MTI98
MTI98

LoL. If Amon Ra comes to ND after EQ leaves, I’ll never complain about BK’s recruiting again 😉

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

“I do,” said John Brown, when asked if he believes his oldest son should leave for the NFL. “Look, if DeShone Kizer was there, he would have had a better year this year and it would have been an even better reason to leave early.”

“I don’t want things to get worse or not get better at Notre Dame. It’s difficult and dangerous and it’s a work in process, but the risk outweighs the reward, in terms of coming back. It’s completely up to him though.”

“Seriously. I’m not Lavar Ball. I’m not going to make my kids do anything. I just think it’s wiser to come out now. He’ll test well, they’ll look at his body of work, he’ll be alright. There are no guarantees he goes first round if he stays or if he comes out. The numbers could stay the same next year and then it would be two years of bad numbers instead of one. I get the benefits of staying, too. I totally get that. To be honest, none of this is coach Kelly’s fault. It’s not Chip Long’s fault”

And some more but that’s probably enough. So, yeah, no surprise EQ chose to leave. Good thing it was completely up to him though!

https://247sports.com/college/notre-dame/Article/Amon-Ra-St-Brown-Equanimeous-father-talks-Notre-Dame-111961067

Publius2010
Publius2010

Eh, I don’t know why he would stay. We’re losing the best part of the offense, the QB situation is a giant question mark, and the defense that was going to carry us next year just lost its coach.

Clay Cossé fka Mouth
Clay Cossé fka Mouth

I’m with King Kenny. What is EQ? Just a fast guy who can’t beat press coverage, play the ball in the air, or catch. We have plenty of good receivers to replace him. It really is his loss. We won’t suffer or lose any games for want of his meager production.

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

His production wasn’t so meager (961 yards, 9 TD) in 2016 when he actually had a QB that could throw the ball.

Coyote1985
Coyote1985

Have to like this tweet from Shaun Crawford:

We came to Notre Dame for the tradition of excellence. Better players on the field & better poeple off. People come and go through ND.. which is why ND is bigger than any one person. We will take what we learned from them and continue building for the future. Go Irish!☘️

— Shaun Crawford (@ShaunCrawf20) January 4, 2018

MTI98
MTI98

Derrick Allen had a similar response.

KG
KG

Love the sentiment, but I winced at the spelling.

DrIck
DrIck

Are you in the “it’s spelled Shawn or GTFO” camp?

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

Dude, he’s an ND guy. Sean.

KG
KG

No, but “poeple” isn’t a word with which I’m familiar.

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

Might I suggest you never get on Twitter

KG
KG

Never have been, never will.

MTI98
MTI98

I think continuity is perhaps more important than getting a hot name who runs a different system. I’d like to see Clark Lea get a chance to step up — perhaps as co-DC with Elston.

Publius2010
Publius2010

Yeah. We had four defensive coordinators during Weis’ tenure, and somehow a yearly switch between the 4-3 and 3-4 didn’t go well.

Eric Murtaugh

It’s going to be fun to revisit this when A&M is 17-9 after 2019 and their defense is just okay.

MTI98
MTI98

From your keyboard to the FB gods’ ears…

Concrete Charlie
Concrete Charlie

And then we’ll be like, “Wait, A&M is paying the former coaches’ $100mm buyouts AND putting $225mm towards guarantees for the new staff??? Why can’t we do that?”

dpet
dpet

Was thinking that all day yesterday Eric!

KG
KG

With not one win against Bama.

MrTgon
MrTgon

How do I rec this twice?

cwod
cwod

This one stings! I was starting to look forward to next season’s defense!

Great discussion so far.

I thought I’d chime in on a few points. I don’t know a lot about football, but I do know about education finance and tax policy.

1. As people have pointed out, Texas A&M (system) has a lot of money in their endowment. And their athletic department has a lot of money as well (#1 in revenues among public institutions). More than Notre Dame. ND would be behind a lot of these schools (I found a piece from a little over five years ago that slotted us right behind Penn State). If you just look at football, ND fares better.

http://sports.usatoday.com/ncaa/finances/

2. Yes, Texas does not have a state income tax, but Indiana’s income tax rate is only 3.23%. Also, until tax season in 2019, he’d be able to deduct his Indiana taxes from his federal income, so he wouldn’t even be paying the full 3.23% effectively (assuming there aren’t weird Pease or AMT things going on).

3. Not super connected, but maybe worth noting that because of the new tax legislation, private schools with large endowments are going to have to start paying taxes on their endowments. Public schools are not affected. The SBT has estimates that ND will get hit with $6 to $9 million annually.

https://www.southbendtribune.com/news/education/notre-dame-to-pay-millions-in-taxes-on-investment-earnings/article_645ccede-b94c-5fd5-9451-d5f28584188a.html

The commenter formerly known as occtipus
The commenter formerly known as occtipus

Wow, point 3 is interesting, cwod. $6 to $9 million could pay for both Dave Aranda and Mike Elko for next year.

…or Jon Tenuta and Corwin Brown.

KG
KG

This isn’t the place for political discussion, but that last part really blows. Though at least they cut the proposal to tax graduate students’ tuition as well as stipend, which would have tripled my taxes and forced many graduate students to quit.

Scarponi
Scarponi

Just fyi, any part of a grad stipend not being used for required education expenses (tuition, fees, required texts, etc. – food/housing do NOT qualify) is already supposed to be reported as taxable income (this goes back at least 5 years, but likely was the case long before that).

Publius2010
Publius2010

Yeah and I bet you report your tips to the IRS too, NARC

Scarponi
Scarponi

Wow, that’s a bit of a strong reaction don’t you think? KG identified that he was glad x and y didn’t get ruled as taxable. I simply pointed out that y frequently qualifies as taxable anyway with the current laws. I have absolutely zero interest in actually knowing whether or not people are reporting properly or making any judgment on any of the commentariat’s tax practices.

I’m sorry that you decided my comment gave you enough information to determine my tax practices, imply that if I do follow tax law I’m to be despised, and to slap a judgmental label on me.

KG
KG

NO, I didn’t say I was “glad x and y didn’t get ruled as taxable.” You’re reading my statement incorrectly.

>”the proposal to tax graduate students’ tuition as well as stipend” (which is already taxed).

In other words, I’m glad X did not get declared as part of a taxable X+Y, because X is a number I don’t get, nor do I have the option of keeping it as opposed to spending it on tuition.

Publius2010
Publius2010

I was joking. I guess I’ll need to upgrade to 18S Premium Plus to get the sarcasm font back.

Scarponi
Scarponi

In that case, my mistake, and my apologies.

Publius2010
Publius2010

Honestly, this is all Murtaugh’s fault

Russell Knox
Russell Knox

You are rolling tonight man.

KG
KG

Well, yes. That’s not the issue. The issues is the $45,000 in tuition that I never see, nor is it a choice for me to “pay” it, because it’s simply a number they assign to the yearly value of my education, as opposed to the $35,000 (ish) I get as an actual stipend. Being taxed at $80,000 when I only get $35,000 is problematic. Read “as well as stipend” as “on top of the already taxed stipend.” I know it’s taxed–I pay it.

GoldenIsThyFame
GoldenIsThyFame

I hate moments like this because: 1) it triggers an existential crisis for the program and its fans and 2) it’s another “1 step forward 2 steps back” situation. I wasn’t a firm believer in Elko’s ability to field a championship-level defense, but I was coming around to the idea after seeing the progress made this season. But it is what it is and it’s time to move on.

I have three names who I think are possible because of the $1.5 million that ND offered Elko to stay.

1. Pete Kwiatowski- His Washington and Boise State defenses were top-25 in S&P every year since 2010 except for one, and that includes five years of top-ten defenses. According to USA Today his salary was likely around $900,000 this past year, so we could blow that out of the water. The only issue is that he’s coached with Chris Peterson his entire career and that might be the one thing we can’t overcome. But this would be a homerun hire if it happens.
2. Alex Grinch- Another Elko-type who cut his teeth turning around Washington State’s horrendous defense, but he just left to be a co-defensive coordinator with Schiano at Ohio State. Perhaps we could entice him with the head job on defense?
3. Jim Leonhard- Another one that’ll be tough to pry away from his alma mater, but Wisconsin finished #3 in S&P defense this past year and he’s been studying under Dave Aranda and Justin Wilcox for a few years now. I think he’ll likely stay in Madison, but this would be worthwhile to check out.

Or we could’ve just hired Don Brown away from BC in 2015 and avoided this whole mess. :/

Publius2010
Publius2010

“Or we could’ve just hired Don Brown away from BC in 2015 and avoided this whole mess.”

Once again, everything else aside, Kelly keeping BVG on was a goddamn fireable offense.

KG
KG

Again, truth.

RiseUpIrish
RiseUpIrish

Do any of these guys run similar defenses to Elko? MTI98 made a good point above about how consistency matters.

FWIW, I think Jim Leonhard would be a great option. He was an NFL safety and has coached defensive backs, so he could pair well with Lyght and sort of fill Elko’s shoes from a safety-coaching perspective.

GoldenIsThyFame
GoldenIsThyFame

Kwiatowski alternates between a 3-4 and 4-3 so it wouldn’t be too much of a departure from what Elko ran at ND, but the guy who’s really exciting is Grinch. From what I’ve read he’s super aggressive and he uses a lot of the same principles as Elko (rover, etc…).

I agree with you on Leonhard. UW’s S&P pass defenses have been #12 and #8 since he took over in 2016. There’s also some interesting stuff in the article, maybe prying him away from Madison won’t be too impossible? https://www.landof10.com/wisconsin/wisconsin-recruiting-jim-leonhards-job-status-recruiting-liability

herecometheirish
herecometheirish

It could also be that Elko would rather be around a coach like Fisher than a coach like Kelly. Alex Grinch turned down more money to be at OSU. Coaches want to be around elite coaches.

Publius2010
Publius2010

So you’re saying there are perks to not being constantly embattled and hated by much of the fanbase.

KG
KG

I don’t think that’s a feature he gets at A&M.

MrTgon
MrTgon

Preach

herecometheirish
herecometheirish

Yes, lol. If you win, fans tend to like you.

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

Yep, and to the point made very well above, because of that massive, guaranteed contract Fisher has the most job security in the country right now short of Saban or Swinney. He – and, relevantly, his coaching staff – have a zero percent chance of getting fired in 2018 because of poor performance, unlike BK.

MrTgon
MrTgon

This is a really important point, I think. I know you made it somewhere else, too.

dpet
dpet

I don’t think Fisher is an elite coach. I think he’s an overrated clown!

spider-man
spider-man

A clown who has won a NC, had a 29 game win streak, consistently won 10+ games a year (except for last year), New Year’s bowls…

herecometheirish
herecometheirish

So what does that make Kelly?

GoldenIsThyFame
GoldenIsThyFame

Grinch also thought he was going to be the head coach after Leach looked certain to go to Tennessee, so that’s an important caveat. Coaching with Urban will get you a head job sooner or later.

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

They need to find a guy like this, but how many more are available? (Not gonna jump on them for losing this specific guy since it’s been less than 24 hours and Taggart had a big head start…But still, time to get moving..)

SOURCE: #MichiganState Co-DC Harlon Barnett will become the new defensive coordinator at #FSU. Big hire for Taggart. Barnett is highly thought of by the players there and by his staff. Very impressive dude.

— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) January 5, 2018

Brendan R

I am, sadly, going to work up another DC candidates post soon. A few decent options out there, potentially. Barnett was one of them.

Brendan R

I’ve largely stayed out of the fray, but I can’t do it anymore. There’s a lot of unrealistic commentary here and elsewhere and it’s driving me nuts.

Let’s recap what we know, first of all, because I think a lot of people got furious without knowing the whole story that dripped out over the course of last evening.

1) ND was already paying Elko very well, reportedly $1M per. Keep in mind he was probably at about $350K with Wake last year, based on Clawson being paid around $600K-$800K.
2) A&M made a run at him a couple of weeks ago, at which point ND gave him a raise, reportedly to $1.3M. That’s top 10 DC money.
3) A&M made a run at Aranda, reportedly in excess of $2M per. LSU gave him 4 years, $2.5 per *guaranteed* to keep him.
4) A&M turned back to Elko and offered him $1.5M per, which ND matched and Elko had a verbal agreement in place (per Hansen).
5) A&M countered again at $1.8M, and Elko reneged on the verbal agreement to ask for more from ND.
6) ND backed out and Elko signed with A&M.

First off, this is pretty crummy behavior by Elko, but obviously ND was willing to play ball to a point. Second, A&M was clearly going to keep going until they got him, probably up to or even past Aranda’s contract. They just guaranteed $72M to their head coach – they don’t care what they pay their coordinators. There was no “winning the war” with them. Third, and perhaps the nugget everyone has lost sight of the most, it’s not like Elko is literally the only person on Earth who can field a competent defense. Is getting into a bidding war with A&M to pay him $2.5M+ really a smarter play than paying someone like, say, Jim Leonhard or Jimmy Lake $1M per?

Also, on the A&M contract – it’s a guaranteed three-year contract with rolling renewal that *starts* at $1.81M per with incentives and escalators. It’s a lot more than “just” a $300K difference between what ND offered him and what A&M offered. A&M went to plaid. I’m fine with not getting into stupid money over this. Like Sampson said, ND is different and has to require some level of personal investment.

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

I have basically done a 180 on this issue based on the commentary in this comment thread. I tend to agree with much of the above (except the bit about personal investment; other than a few high-profile exceptions, there’s not much loyalty in coaching to the institution other than perhaps to one’s alma mater, so I don’t expect much of it from non-alum assistants); on top of all that, there’s the non-zero chance that the entire coaching staff at ND is replaced after this year for performance reasons. There is no chance that happens at A&M. So Elko is getting paid more with greater job security. Really, I can’t blame him at all.

Who says that the internet can’t change minds?

With that said, as a natural pessimist I am a *little* worried about the future. BK’s hiring track record is spotty. It will be interesting to see if they try hard to stick with a 4-2-5 guy or not.

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

I get what you’re saying about the personal investment but I see it along the lines of “if we give you two raises, which total a 50% bump on your last year salary (that was already a 7-figure salary), and you agree verbally let’s call that a day and don’t come back again for a third raise every time the oilmen give you a call”. You do have to want to be at Notre Dame (or any job, really) or it’s going to turn the employer off.

I do agree that the lack of loyalty is real and a real problem…It would be nice if there were more candidates out there with ND ties that might show some loyalty but I don’t think any are of the profile that the new tOSU co-DC has with his Ohio ties or something along that line.

Irishchamp23
Irishchamp23

How many 4-2-5 guys are out there? Who else besides Elko, and TCU run that defense?

Brendan R

When I say “personal investment,” I’m not talking about the admin believing the prestige of ND allowed them to go cheap on salaries, which is something they leaned on pre-Weis. Thankfully they saw the light on that one. I’m saying that the nature of what ND is makes it a bad fit for a mercenary coach. We need guys more prone to stability than that because we can’t turn things over as easily as other places do. This is a business and I expect good coaches to want and receive fair market value. But to get into bidding wars for guys, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot in that model. We need guys who put some weight at least on the “soft” factors at ND that are different than other places, or we’re going to face too much turnover.

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

That makes sense, and I can’t disagree that would be preferred, but I think figuring out who qualifies is a lot easier said than done. Elko would seem to fit the bill pretty well for a non-alum: went to Penn, coached at Wake, got a huge career (and salary) bump to come to ND. And yet, he took off.

Ultimately, everyone has a price.

Brendan R

Agreed on both counts. You never know what’s important to people, or more importantly, which non-monetary things are especially important to people, regardless of their public comments or what their background is.

Clearwall
Clearwall

This is exactly my line of thinking too.
1. Good for Elko for getting his mone
2. What a dick move, bro. You shake hands, you make a deal, you stop listening to phone calls.
3. ELKO ISNT THE ONLY DC IN THE COUNTRY!!!!
4. There are times to hold fast to principles and this was one of them for ND. Good call, IMO

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

Here’s where I diverge with you and hooks. I don’t think Elko did anything wrong by taking A&M’s second call. Just apply this standard to yourself. If you got a call from a recruiter with a similar/comparable job offer with a 50% raise, and then your employer matched that, would you really just ignore a second call from that recruiter, especially when they’re turning it into an 80%+ raise? That’s insane!

Don’t get mad at Elko for playing the game well. Like I said above, there’s no particularly good reason for Elko to be loyal to ND – he had spent all of a year of his life at the school, and he didn’t have any prior history with BK. And, again, *he is getting paid more with more job security in a comparable job*. He’d be a moron not to have taken the deal.

The people to reasonably get mad at are:
(1) A&M money men for spending like this
(2) ND admin for not getting in the bidding war, if you think Elko is worth it

That’s it, that’s the list. To Brendan and your point, he’s probably not worth it at that price, so only be mad at (1).

EDIT: I did think of a third group you could get mad at: ND’s lawyers for not having Elko sign a written agreement after he verbally agreed to the $1.5M. My sense is that coaches can go a while without having written contracts, so maybe they didn’t screw up relative to the norm, but if they thought $1.5M was a bargain for him they could have made him sign something.

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

Well, I mean you’re right the game is the game. I don’t fault Elko for asking ND to match his offers so he would get paid according to market forces. As mentioned, hitching his wagon to Jimbo is probably a smart and shrewd career move for him that will bring him more money, security and chances for further upward mobility in the future. I don’t have a problem with any of that.

All I was saying is I see the ND perspective too of “hey we just gave you a 50% raise already, do you want to be here or do you not want to be here”? At some point for Notre Dame you either need him to be committed to the job he has, or go take the other school’s job. Especially if like Brendan said that A&M likely would have kept up the bidding until they got the answer that they wanted.

Concrete Charlie
Concrete Charlie

I think there is something to be said for honoring your word. It is a dick move to renege on a verbal contract. If true, it makes him look like someone who can’t be trusted. He has “rolling guarantees” so it might not come back to bite him in the a$$. However, I will happily root for 300 yard passing performances against him every single weekend. Go Arkansas! Go LSU! etc etc

Clearwall
Clearwall

Exactly. Is ND supposed to just give him a raise everytime someone calls? You cant run a business like that. At some point, employees need to settle in and just be happy where they are. If I was working with great people at a great company doing something I loved I would hope I wouldnt keep accepting calls for more money to go elsewhere.

Brendan R

I did get an offer to leave my employer once, and received a surprisingly friendly counter offer to stay. I accepted it, and my boss – with whom I am still on good terms, even two jobs later – told me in no uncertain terms that this was the only counter I’d ever get, then or in the future. If the subject ever came up again, he was going to cordially wish me happy trails.

That’s pretty standard in business. The reality is that 90% of employees who accept a counter are gone within 18 months anyway. I’d guess it’s not all that different in the coaching position. It only makes sense to go so far with these things.

KG
KG

So did Erik give you some of those sweet sweet 18S stock options too?

Publius2010
Publius2010

This is college football, no one ever keeps their word

Brendan R

I wouldn’t ignore the call, and if I went back to my employer asking for a second counter I would also expect them to tell me to go poop in a hat.

There’s another angle to the “job security,” too. Jimbo is untouchable with that contract, so what incentive does he have to be anything other than an autocrat? And perhaps I’m being a bit naive here, but Elko also gets a couple of demerits from me for hitching his wagon to such an inveterate dirtbag as Jimbo. I’ll freely admit that’s more emotional, though.

The Guys Get Shirts
The Guys Get Shirts

“I did think of a third group you could get mad at: ND’s lawyers for not having Elko sign a written agreement after he verbally agreed to the $1.5M. My sense is that coaches can go a while without having written contracts, so maybe they didn’t screw up relative to the norm, but if they thought $1.5M was a bargain for him they could have made him sign something.”

It wouldn’t have mattered if he signed anything. You can’t force someone to work for you if they don’t want to, contract or no contract. (Source: the Thirteenth Amendment) I mean, I suppose you could try to use a a restrictive covenant or something, but I seriously doubt such covenants are standard in the industry, nor would such a covenant likely be enforceable in any event. For the most part, the way employers get key employees to stay is through retention agreements, stay bonuses, etc. Those agreements can still be terminated by the employee (with some minimal amount of notice); they just forfeit the additional money due them had they stayed.

As to the other issue, my point of view is that one shouldn’t make a verbal agreement unless that’s the agreement. If one still wants to listen to other offers, don’t agree to anything. It’s a bad look to me to try to play a potential employer against your current employer to try to get a raise. That’s a power play that signals to your current employer that you don’t really want to be there and potentially signals to other potential employers in the marketplace that you’re not necessarily serious when you approach them about a job.

KG
KG

It’s not the second call that bothers me. It’s the third call.

Publius2010
Publius2010

“I say to you, before the cock crows you will take three calls from Texas A&M”

herecometheirish
herecometheirish

Are you sure there was no winning the war? LSU won their war with A&M. If ND wants to keep a guy, we can do it too.

As for Elko not being the only person who can field a competent defense, he was the guy who spent the last year with our guys, recruiting new players, installing his system, etc. His defenses improved over time at WF. If 2018 is going to be a big year, it makes sense to not start it off with a huge question mark. It’s reasonable to assume that our odds of making the playoff next year decreased as a result of this development.

If the defense is a mess next year and we go 6-6, Kelly will probably be fired and we’ll be paying $20 million in buyouts- all because we wouldn’t pony up $300,000. (And when you spend half a billion adding luxury boxes to the stadium, $300,000 is a rounding error.)

sleepy man
sleepy man

Adams heading to the league. Good move on his part IMO. Good for him.

MrTgon
MrTgon

For all of you true football strategists/analysts: Is there any validity to the idea that, as good as the D seemed/was this year, maybe Elko’s “genius” seemed greater than it really was because it was foiled by the awfulness that came before? Are we really losing an incredible DC who pulled off a miracle this year, or are we losing a good but replaceable DC that seemed incredible because he followed a tire-fire DC? I’m asking honestly – I don’t know enough about schemes and x’s and o’s to know. Personally, I feel like in going from BVG to Elko, ND went from incompetence to competence, not competence to greatness; it just seemed a whole lot like the latter.

Or am I just fooling myself and trying to feel better about losing this guy?

GoldenIsThyFame
GoldenIsThyFame

This was my frame of mind when Elko was hired in that I thought ND was getting a good DC, but not one that would turn into Brent Venables or Kirby Smart. We got what was advertised: a guy who would craft a good enough defense to win most games. According to S&P, he’s never had a defense ranked higher than 22nd but never lower than 49th (that includes ND’s 27th finish this year). He’s been good, but not great everywhere he’s been and I think we’ll see that continue in Aggieland.

That being said, the defense did flash a lot this year, especially in October. The back-to-back blowouts of USC and NC State were probably the two best defensive performances since 2012. I think there could’ve been a higher gear for the program moving forward, but now we’ll never know.

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

Let’s not forget that he turned Nick Coleman from a complete scrub into a legitimately solid starting safety in the course of a year. He definitely is not bad at his job.

MrTgon
MrTgon

Good point. He’s definitely a good coach. I was actually hoping you’d respond to this comment. I wanted to get your honest take on it.

Obviously, it’s a loss. But how big a loss do you think? I mean, if we had never had BVG and instead had gone straight from Diaco to Elko, would we have seen THAT much difference?