Former Iowa defensive coordinator Bob Elliott passed away Saturday night while in hospice care in Iowa City. He was 64.
Bob Elliott grew up in Ann Arbor to former Michigan coach and Iowa athletic director Bump Elliott. Bump is famous for bringing Bo Schembechler to Michigan and Hayden Fry to Iowa, but transporting his son in Iowa City is just as worthy an accomplishment.
Bob Elliott played defensive back for the Hawkeyes from 1972-75. Instead of pursuing law school after graduation, he returned to the Iowa football team to become a graduate assistant under Bob Commings for the 1976 season. Elliott was an academic All-American and a Rhodes Scholar candidate, but football was his calling.
After 1976, Elliott bounced around Kent State, Ball State, North Carolina and Iowa State until coming full circle back to Iowa City in 1987. He was the defensive backs coach until 1994, then became the defensive coordinator until 1998. Many believed he would succeed Hayden Fry. Instead, Kirk Ferentz was pegged as the head man. His health was rumored to have factored in the decision.
Elliott continued to bounce around the college ranks, with successful stops at Kansas State and Notre Dame, most recently landing in Nebraska to coach the safeties this year. The stop in Lincoln was a reunion of sorts with Husker d-coordinator Bob Diaco, who was a GA at Iowa while Elliott was a coordinator and coached together at Notre Dame.
In June, Elliott relegated himself to an analyst position so he could be off the field during games.
Elliott suffered from a form of blood cancer that required bone marrow and kidney transplants. An enlarged spleen first manifested itself in 1991, and Elliott’s health continued to deteriorate over time. His sister, Betsy, provided the kidney for his transplant.
Elliott is survived by his wife Joey and two kids Grant and Jessica. His uncle Pete was also a career coach, helming the program for the Huskers, Illini, and Miami Hurricanes at different points in his career. His father Bump still lives on at the age of 92.
This is a sad day for the Hawkeye family. Elliott was truly a born and bred Hawkeye, attending high school in Iowa City and graduating from the University. He embodied all that’s great about Hawkeye athletics and was the best ambassador a school and program could ask for.
Elliott was poised to make a contribution for a revamped blackshirt defense with a new coordinator in Diaco this season before his health got in the way. Here’s a really great read on Elliott from Tom Shatel from earlier this year that goes in to detail about Elliott’s journey to Lincoln.
From the BHGP family to the Elliott family, thoughts and good vibes are being sent your way. May Bob Elliott rest in peace.