Surprised to see a realistic candidate here at No. 1? You shouldn’t be. Mike Elko has been widely considered the most likable and desired candidate for Michigan State fans throughout the process.
It doesn’t take much convincing here for fans to buy in to Elko because, well, he’s winning games at Duke. That’s not easy to do. David Cutcliffe was considered the only coach who could win there, but Elko came in and won nine games in 2022. That just doesn’t happen. In the three years prior to his arrival, Duke had 10 total wins.
Elko is also a defensive guru. That would be more than welcomed by Spartan fans.
For years, Michigan State has had a mediocre defense, straying away from the glory days on that side of the ball from 2012-19 (with some exceptions). Elko has turned each of his defenses as a defensive coordinator around. At Bowling Green, his first defense was 87th overall in 2009 and then it finished top 10 nationally in 2012 and 2013 before taking the Wake Forest job. With the Demon Deacons, his defense was never lower than No. 41.
Then at Notre Dame, he had the No. 46 defense before getting hired at Texas A&M and he turned a mid-level defense into an above-average one (No. 34 in year one) and then an elite one (No. 9 in year three).
Elko is 14-5 at Duke and he’s fresh off a 24-3 win without his star quarterback over NC State. He continues to prove why he’s somehow both the safe and best option as MSU’s next head coach.