Longtime Iowa assistant Bob Elliott dies at 64

Bob Elliott was most recently the safeties coach at Nebraska. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Bob Elliott was most recently the safeties coach at Nebraska. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Longtime college football assistant coach Bob Elliott died Saturday night.

Elliott, who served as an assistant at nine different schools, most recently at Nebraska, over the course of his 38-year career, died from complications from cancer, according to the Des Moines Register. He was 64.

From the Register:

Bobby Elliott, the former Iowa football player who spent the last 19 years of his distinguished coaching career undergoing a series of cancer scares and bold recoveries, died Saturday of complications from the disease that occasionally sapped his strength but never his spirit.

Elliott, 64, died in hospice care in Iowa City three weeks after taking a hiatus from his final job at Nebraska. He was with his family at the time, close friend Dan McCarney said. Elliott was hired to be safeties coach at the Big Ten Conference school in February but moved into a defensive analyst position June 20 as his illness recurred.

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From 1972 to 1975, Elliott played defensive back at Iowa, where his father, Bump, was athletic director. After graduating, he moved into coaching, first as a graduate assistant for his alma mater before stops at Kent State, Ball State, Iowa State and North Carolina.

Elliott returned to the Hawkeyes in 1987 as secondary coach and later was elevated to defensive coordinator in 1996 and assistant head coach 1998. Elliott looked primed to succeed Hayden Fry as Iowa’s head coach following the ‘98 season, but he was diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer. But with serious health issues to attend to (Elliott needed a life-saving bone marrow transplant), the job instead went to Kirk Ferentz.

Elliott recovered and returned to coaching in 2000 at Iowa State and later had stints as defensive coordinator at Kansas State (helping the program win its first Big 12 title in 2003) and San Diego State. He returned to Iowa State for two seasons in 2010 before a five-year term at Notre Dame from 2012-2016. While at Notre Dame, Elliott underwent a kidney transplant.

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After spending his final two seasons at Notre Dame as special assistant to head coach Brian Kelly, Elliott landed an on-field gig as safeties coach for the Huskers in February. He coached spring practice but stepped away last month when his health problems returned.

Elliott is survived by his wife, Joey, and two children, Grant and Jessica.

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Sam Cooper is a writer for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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