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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Out with the old: Elko will not retain offensive assistants

Photograph of Coach Bobby Petrino at the 2010 Arkansas Red-White Game.
The Rebel At/WikiCommons

Photograph of Coach Bobby Petrino at the 2010 Arkansas Red-White Game.

The Mike Elko era has begun at Texas A&M, and the former A&M defensive coordinator is already cleaning house. Offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino, offensive line coach Steve Addazio and wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig will all not be a part of Elko’s staff in 2024.

Offensive line coach Steve Addazio
Many Aggie fans will welcome the news of Addazio’s dismissal with cries of “Ding dong! The witch is dead!”
After former offensive line coach Josh Henson departed A&M for USC in 2021, the Aggies’ offensive line featured two freshman All-American lineman in Bryce Foster and Reuben Fathertree II and was coming off of a Joe Moore Award finalist honor in 2020.

Then, coach Jimbo Fisher tapped Addazio to coach the Aggies’ offensive line, after the latter was fired from a seven-year run as head coach at Boston College and a two-year stint at Colorado State where his combined record was 48-56.
The hire didn’t exactly work out as planned. A&M’s offense led the nation in quarterback hits in 2022 and ranked in the top five in that category again this season, according to Pro Football Focus. In both years, the Aggies were forced to utilize three different starting quarterbacks due to injuries.

It wasn’t just a passing issue — A&M’s rushing offense ranked 89th in the country in yards per game in 2023 and 81st in 2022.

Aggie fans zeroed in on Addazio’s offensive line as one of the major reasons behind A&M’s 5-7 and 7-5 records the past two seasons — and widely cited Fisher’s initial hiring and refusal to fire Addazio as another reason why the former coach had to go.

Offensive Coordinator Bobby Petrino
After A&M’s 5-7 finish last season, public pressure forced Fisher to relinquish play calling duties and hire a new offensive coordinator.

Fisher’s solution? Hire another former head coach. This time, Fisher called on former Arkansas, Louisville and Atlanta Falcons coach Bobby Petrino who had just taken the UNLV offensive coordinator job a mere three weeks beforehand.
Fisher’s willingness to relinquish control of the offense gave the A&M fanbase a reason to have hope after the Aggies’ worst season since 2008.

To Petrino’s credit, the A&M offense did show improvement this season. The Aggies averaged just under 404 yards a game, up from 360.9 in 2022.

Unfortunately it appears that hope was misplaced. After Fisher was fired before the end of the regular season, information emerged in an article by The Athletic suggesting Petrino was being forced to coach his offense out of Fisher’s scheme and playbook — the exact scenario A&M fans were hoping hiring a new offensive coordinator would avoid.

Petrino’s time in Aggieland will always be a question of “What might have been?” for Aggie fans, especially after A&M outgained No. 13 LSU’s top-ranked offense under interim head coach Elijah Robinson.

Next year, Petrino will ride again at Arkansas — the school he was fired from in 2012 following an off-field scandal — as he accepted the offensive coordinator job of the Razorbacks under coach Sam Pittman. He’ll have to brace himself for that role, as Arkansas boasted the second-worst offense in the SEC this season.

Wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig
A quality control coach at Florida State who was one of the staffers to follow Fisher to College Station after he was hired in 2017, Craig would go on to coach wide receivers for five of the six years he spent at A&M.

The former pro quarterback is well-recognized for his recruiting ability. Five-star receivers sophomore Evan Stewart, Demond Demas and Chris Marshall all signed with A&M during Craig’s stint with the Aggies. Stewart ranks second on the team in receiving yards this season, while the latter two are no longer with the program.

Craig played quarterback under Fisher from 1994-97, when the latter was the quarterback coach at Auburn. Including a previous stint as quarterback coach at Florida State from 2010-12, ten of Craig’s 21-year coaching career were spent on a Fisher-led staff, and according to the same article in The Athletic about Fisher’s time in Aggieland, Craig was one of his staunchest supporters among the coaching staff.

Given Craig’s loyalty and close ties to Fisher, it’s not surprising to see Elko elect to go in a different direction with his wide receiver coach. Sometimes, you just need to clear the board and start again.

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