IOWA CITY, Iowa – – Bobby Elliott, a University of Iowa three-year football letterman (1972, 1974-75), and former Hawkeye assistant football coach, passed away Saturday, following a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 64. He is the son of former UI Director of Athletics Bump Elliott. Funeral arrangements are pending.
Elliott played defensive back at Iowa from 1972 to 1975, leading the team in interceptions and pass break-ups as a senior. Elliott earned Academic All-America honors in both 1974 and 1975 and received the Big Ten Medal of Honor. He earned his degree in 1976 with high distinction, was a 1976 Rhodes Scholar candidate, and the recipient of an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Bump Elliott and the Elliott family as they mourn their loss,” said Gary Barta, UI director of athletics. “Bobby was a terrific person. He loved his family… he loved to coach… and he loved the Hawkeyes. He will be missed.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are extended to Bump, Joey, and the entire Elliott family,” said Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz. “Bob was an outstanding individual with the highest integrity as a person, and as a football coach. Along with being an outstanding player and excelling in academics during his Iowa career, Bob was a dedicated coach and family man, always putting others ahead of himself. Bob touched the lives of many student-athletes, along with those he coached and worked with throughout his career. Bob was a great Hawkeye and contributed to our program as a player, coach and graduate of the University of Iowa.”
Elliott was a college football coach for 38 years. He served as an assistant coach under Hayden Fry for 11 years (1987-94, 1996-98). Elliott served as the Executive Director of the UI Alumni Association in 1995, before rejoining the football coaching staff the following season.
He served as secondary coach for eight years and was the defensive coordinator for his final three seasons. Iowa played in seven bowl games during his time on the Hawkeye staff, including the 1991 Rose Bowl.
Elliott’s 1997 defense finished in the top 11 in the nation in scoring defense, pass efficiency defense, total defense and rushing defense. That defense featured Jared DeVries, who was the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year and a 1998 consensus All-American.
During his career, Elliott has spent 32 of his 36 on-field seasons coaching defense, primarily as a defensive backs coach or defensive coordinator. He had a combined 11 years of defensive coordinator experience at San Diego State, Kansas State, Iowa, and Ball State. Elliott was a part of 18 bowl teams during his career.
Elliott was in his first year on the football staff at Nebraska, after spending five seasons on the Notre Dame staff. Elliott coached the Irish safeties in 2012 and 2013. Elliott coached Notre Dame’s outside linebackers in 2014, and later served as Special Assistant to Head Coach Brian Kelly the past two years. In his most recent role, Elliott was involved in player personnel decisions, analytics, defensive strategy, game planning, and on-campus recruiting.
In 2013, Notre Dame ranked 15th in the FBS ranks in passing yards allowed per game, 16th in yards allowed per completion, and 17th in yards per attempt.
In 2012, Notre Dame went 12-0 in the regular season and played in the BCS National Championship Game. The Irish defense keyed the success by ranking second nationally in yards per completion, sixth in fewest touchdown passes allowed, 13th in yards per attempt, and 16th in pass efficiency defense.
Before his five-year stint at Notre Dame, Elliott worked in 2010 and 2011 at Iowa State, his third coaching stop in Ames during his career, after also working in Ames in 1981-82 and 2000-01. Elliott coordinated the San Diego State defense from 2006 to 2008, leading an Aztec defense that ranked second in pass defense in the Mountain West in his first year.
Elliott was the defensive coordinator for Bill Snyder at Kansas State from 2002 to 2005. During his stay in Manhattan, Elliott helped Kansas State to two 11-win seasons and the school’s first Big 12 championship in 2003. His Wildcat defenses allowed an average of 111.6 rushing yards and 194.1 passing yards per game over his four-year tenure. The 2002 defense led the nation in scoring defense, was second in total defense and rushing defense and third in pass efficiency defense. That unit featured cornerback Terence Newman, who was the recipient of the 2002 Jim Thorpe Award. The 2003 defense ranked in the top 10 nationally in total defense, pass defense, and scoring defense.
The only offensive coaching stint of Elliott’s career came at North Carolina from 1983 to 1986, when he coached the Tar Heels’ wide receivers and tight ends. He spent three seasons at Ball State from 1980 to 1982, including his first defensive coordinator role in 1980. After one year as a graduate assistant at Iowa in 1976, Elliott had his first full-time coaching job at Kent State in 1977.
Elliott is survived by his wife, Joey, children Grant and Jessica, grandchildren Levi and Robin, his father, Bump, and siblings Bill and Betsy.
From the Elliott Family:
Bob Elliott, our loving son, husband, father, grandfather and friend, passed away peacefully surrounded by family on Saturday night, July 8th, 2017.
Bob devoted his life to serving as a mentor and coach to countless student-athletes. In his over 40 year career, he was committed to excellence and integrity, sought to bring out the best in everyone, and instilled a sense of hope to all he touched.
He was a champion and warrior who was steadfast, dedicated, and selfless. His pride and joy were his wife, children, grandchildren, and family, and although our hearts are broken, his memory lives on through the men and women who loved him throughout his great life.
Details for a celebration of his life will be shared soon.