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Nebraska Safeties Coach Bob Elliott Has Passed Away


David McGee/Corn Nation

There is a hole across college football this morning.

Bob Elliott, one of the better defensive coaches that has been around the college game and just hired by Nebraska this past spring, has passed away. He was 64 years old.

According to this by the Des Moines Register, Elliott passed in Iowa City on Saturday night with his family by his side.

Elliott had just been hired by Nebraska as their safeties coach after Brian Stewart left the staff. He went through the spring practice session with the team coaching. However, a few weeks ago it was announced that he was stepping down from coaching. No reason was given in the statement, which announced that Scott Booker, who was with both Elliott and Defensive Coordinator Bob Diaco at Notre Dame, would be taking his place.

Even without coaching a game for the Huskers, Elliott was aware of what Nebraska Football entailed. His uncle was Pete Elliott, who was Nebraska’s head coach in 1956 and at the time, leading the Huskers to a 4-6 record before leaving to become the HC at Cal Berkeley.

Born on May 6, 1953, Robert Joseph Elliott was a defensive back for the Hawkeyes from 1972-75. He played for the Hawkeyes as his father, Bump, was the school’s athletic director. Elliott was a two-time Academic All-American in his junior and senior seasons. He was also a Rhodes Scholarship candidate.

After Elliott graduated in 1976 with a degree in history, Elliott stayed with the staff at Iowa, starting his coaching career as a graduate assistant for one season before moving on to Kent State. In his nearly 40 years of coaching, Elliott has been on some standout teams.

Nebraska fans will remember him as the defensive coordinator for Kansas State from 2002-2005. In that frame, the Wildcats were Big 12 Champions in 2003. He was 3-1 against the Huskers in that time, only dropping the 2005 game 27-25 in Lincoln.

Elliott had two stops back in Iowa City with Hayden Fry and the Hawkeyes, going from 1987-1994 and 1996-1998. He also had three stints with the Iowa State Cyclones and one with San Diego State in the 2000’s.

His most notable time, however, was with Notre Dame. Elliott’s turn with Notre Dame and Diaco started in 2012, when the Irish played for a national championship against Alabama in Miami. Elliott spent two years coaching safeties, then another year coaching outside linebackers. However, health made him step down from coaching duties, moving to a personnel-level job with HC Brian Kelly.

Wanting to get back to coaching, Elliott took a job with Diaco and Mike Riley after it was announced that Brian Stewart was leaving the Huskers and heading to Houston to take the Rice defensive coordinator job. Elliott wasted no time, diving into coaching during the 15 workout session.

Elliott has fought many illnesses throughout hus coaching days, which is what kept him off the field not only in Lincoln but also in South Bend and in Iowa City. Elliott had a kidney transplant just after the Irish played for a NC, chronicled by this story from SI’s Pete Thamel. While with the Hawkeyes, he got a bone marrow transplant to battle Polycythemia vera. That transplant came at a time when Hayden Fry was close to retirement. Elliott’s illness, in all likelihood, probably cost him the chance to follow Fry as Iowa head coach, and gave Kirk Ferentz his chance.

With both surgeries, Elliott dealt with the hand he was given and stayed true to his job. He very rarely missed practices, and often administered chemo and dialysis to himself.

As he did at Notre Dame, Elliott was hoping to interject himself and help out with the transition to the Bob Diaco 3-4 defense, being the consultant this time to Scott Booker and the rest of the staff. Even though he never coached one down of a game, one would hope that Elliott’s energy and teachings were heeded and will be remembered by the kids on the Nebraska staff who he helped, even though it was for a short time.

Elliott is survived by his wife Joey, and Grant and Jessica, their children. Services for Elliott are pending at this time.


The statements below are from Nebraska Head Coach Mike Riley and Nebraska Defensive Coordinator Bob Diaco regarding the passing of Assistant Coach Bob Elliott.

Statement from Head Coach Mike Riley

"We are deeply saddened by the passing of Bob Elliott. Bob was a wonderful man with a great family. Bob has left an impact on and off the field that will be remembered for many years to come.

“In his short time with our program, Coach Elliott developed a great relationship with the young men in our football program and our staff. Our thoughts and prayers are with Bob’s wife, Joey, and his entire family during this difficult time.”

Statement from Defensive Coordinator Bob Diaco:

“Coach Elliott has been a father figure and mentor to me for almost 30 years. During my life I have met few people that possess the amount of toughness Coach Elliott had, while also possessing the same amount of class. Coach Elliott had unwavering principles and that combination of traits put him in company with very few.”