Nearly three months after dismissing Brian VanGorder, Notre Dame officially has named his replacement.
Following up on reports that made the rounds earlier in the week, the Irish confirmed Tuesday night that Mike Elko has been named as Brian Kelly‘s defensive coordinator. VanGorder was fired in late September after the Irish had allowed 134 points in a 1-3 start to a season that began with them ranked 10th in the country.
Elko comes to South Bend from Wake Forest, where he had spent the past three seasons as the Demon Deacons’ coordinator.
“I’m excited to join a program with the prestige of Notre Dame that can recruit the nation’s highest caliber of student-athlete and compete for a national championship,” said Elko in a statement. “We hope to dictate the pace of the game with an attacking and aggressive style of defense, mix physicality and toughness with exceptional fundamentals and, lastly, play with great effort at all times. I can’t wait to dive in and help these players achieve the standard of success necessary to win at the highest level.
“It was extremely hard to walk away from everything we built at Wake Forest, especially with those players, and I’m so appreciative of everything that Dave (Clawson) and Ron (Wellman) did for me and my family.”
Elko directed a Wake defense that was one of four FBS teams ranked in the Top 20 nationally in scoring defense, sacks and turnovers. The other three teams? Playoff participants Alabama, Clemson and Washington.
The job at Wake was Elko’s first at a Power Five program and just his second at the FBS level (Bowling Green, 2009-13).
“Mike has consistently coordinated defenses that keep the points down, negate big plays, create negative plays, excel in the red zone and, quite simply, force opposing offenses to execute at an extremely high level to move the football,” Kelly said. “This rare combination of consistent success in those facets of defense, along with a proven ability to develop talent and fit it into his system, really places Mike in a class by himself among defensive coordinators across the country.
“As importantly, Mike’s commitment to helping young men reach their full potential in the classroom and in the community make him a perfect fit for Notre Dame.”