The college football community lost one of the really good guys on Saturday. Former Notre Dame assistant coach Bob Elliott passed away at the age of 64 due to complications from cancer. The long time assistant coach died while in Hospice care in Iowa City with his family.
Bob Elliott spent nearly four decades coaching college football at Iowa, Iowa State, and Kansas State among other stops before his career brought him to Notre Dame in 2012. Elliott battled various health ailments throughout his career including at Notre Dame.
Elliott joined the Irish staff before the 2012 season. Hired to coach safeties, Elliott found himself in a bind to say the least when Notre Dame lost projected starter Austin Collinsworth for the year in fall camp and then lost Jamoris Slaughter for the season just three weeks in. Elliott coached up converted wide receiver and then redshirt freshman Matthias Farley into a starting role.
Notre Dame’s defense turned out to be alright in 2012 and Elliott’s coaching had a lot to do with that.
Following Notre Dame’s run to the BCS Championship game, Elliott dealt with another major health issue. This time it was kidney failure. After receiving a kidney transplant in the offseason though, Elliott was back with the Notre Dame coaching staff.
Elliott spent one more season coaching the safeties for Notre Dame before being tasked with coaching outside linebackers for Brian Vangorder in 2014. Unfortunately his health forced him to move into an analyst role as special assistant to head coach Brian Kelly. In that role, Elliott spent the 2015 offseason focusing on the option with Notre Dame set to face Paul Johnson’s Georgia Tech option attack in addition to the annual tilt with Navy. The Irish shut down both option attacks thanks in large part to Elliott’s work.
During his time with Notre Dame, Bob Elliott was not only a great assistant coach, but he served as one of Notre Dame’s most underrated recruiters – especially when recruits made visits.
After two years as an analyst, Elliott was ready to get back into coaching and followed Bob Diaco to Nebraska when the former Irish defensive coordinator landed the same job with the Cornhuskers following his dismissal as head coach at UConn. After coaching the secondary throughout the spring, Elliott’s health once again forced him into a consultant role.
Unfortunately this time, Elliott was unable to battle back onto the field.
Bob Elliott was a fighter throughout his career. He was originally diagnosed with polycythemia vera – a rare form of blood cancer – in 1998 and it is believed that the timing of his diagnosis cost him the opportunity to replace Hayden Fry as head coach at Iowa when Fry retired. Health issues were again reportedly a reason he was passed over for a head coaching opportunity at Iowa State as well.
For nearly four decades, Bob Elliott was one of the good guys in college football. He made even program that he touched a better place on and off the field. Notre Dame was very lucky to have him as part of its program for the time it did.
Rest in peace Bob Elliott.