Mike Elko contract details: Texas A&M gives former Duke coach six-year deal to replace Jimbo Fisher

Texas A&M has already made it clear that money is not a significant obstacle when it comes to football.

The Aggies handed Jimbo Fisher a lucrative contract to pry him away from Florida State in 2017, raised his salary with a 2021 extension, and then agreed to pay his gargantuan $76 million buyout when he was fired on Nov. 12.

Two weeks later, Texas A&M lasered in on Fisher’s replacement, bringing back former defensive coordinator and Duke head coach Mike Elko to lead the program. Elko was brought in as Fisher’s defensive play-caller in 2018 and spent four seasons in College Station before landing the job in Durham. 

Elko isn’t necessarily a flashy name for a program that has tried to position itself as a powerhouse rich with resources, but he knows the area and exceeded expectations at Duke with back-to-back winning seasons and an upset win over Clemson. Elko also didn’t come cheap, though he’s not quite making Fisher money.

MORE: Why rumors of Mark Stoops to Texas A&M didn’t come to fruition

Here’s a closer look at the contract Elko received to become Texas A&M’s head coach.

Mike Elko contract details

Texas A&M gave Elko a <a href="http://

A copy of Mike Elko's Texas A&amp;M contract term sheet. It's a six-year deal for $7 million per year. Large incentives for postseason benchmarks. If he reaches the College Football Playoff or wins the SEC, the contract automatically extends for 1 year. pic.twitter.com/RXpw9vLiaB

&mdash; Sam Khan Jr. (@skhanjr) November 27, 2023

“>six-year, $42 million contract to become head football coach. 

At $7 million per year, Elko’s annual salary comes in at slightly less than Fisher’s initial $7.5 million salary to coach the Aggies. Of course, coaching salaries have generally risen over the last six years, and Fisher would ultimately sign a new deal to bump his salary up to $9.5 million per year.

Texas A&M hired Fisher with visions of becoming a championship contender, and those hopes haven’t disappeared just because his tenure wasn’t a success. Elko’s contract is rich with incentives that would hit if the Aggies found national success.

Here are the incentives included in Elko’s deal: 

  • $3.5 million: Win national championship
  • $2.5 million: Reach national championship game
  • $2 million: Reach College Football Playoff semifinals
  • $1.5 million: Reach College Football Playoff quarterfinals
  • $1 million: Earn College Football Playoff berth
  • $100,000: Appear in SEC championship game
  • $100,000: Win national coach of the year
  • $50,000: Win SEC coach of the year
  • $50,000: Achieve academic progress of 960 over multiple years

Elko would earn an additional $1 million just for making the College Football Playoff alone, which is certainly within reach considering the playoff will expand to 12 teams in 2024. Elko’s deal also automatically extends one year if the Aggies reach the College Football Playoff.

Texas A&M is making Elko earn top dollar, which certainly seems sensible after Fisher was unable to deliver on the promise of winning a national title or even reaching the playoff.

As for Elko’s buyout, Texas A&M would owe him 75 percent of the remaining contract if he’s fired in the first three years of the deal and 80 percent of the remaining contract if he’s fired in the latter three years of the deal.

MORE: Updated bowl projections ahead of championship weekend

Highest-paid college football coaches

Elko has the opportunity to make significant money through incentives, but his $7 million annual salary doesn’t rank among the top 10 in the nation. As of now, Elko is tied with Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz for the 18th-highest annual salary in college football.

Here’s a look at the 10 highest-paid college football coaches, a group led by Alabama’s Nick Saban.

Coach Annual salary School
Nick Saban $11.4 million Alabama
Dabo Swinney $10.9 million Clemson
Kirby Smart $10.7 million Georgia
Ryan Day $10.3 million Ohio State
Lincoln Riley $10 million* USC
Brian Kelly $9.9 million LSU
Mark Stoops $9.01 million Kentucky
Josh Heupel $9 million Tennessee
Lane Kiffin $9 million Ole Miss
James Franklin $8.5 million Penn State

* — Because USC is a private university, Riley’s salary isn’t publicly disclosed. His estimated salary $10 million is based on media reports.

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