By Dave Wagner
Citing health reasons, Eastern New Mexico University football coach Bud Elliott plans to retire at the end of the season, bringing to an end a 37-year college career.
Elliott, who will be 73 in December, said he told his team of the decision during the first week of fall practice.
Elliott is entering his 11th season at ENMU. His first win this fall will give him 200 as a college coach — he enters the season 199-174-9, including 62-44-2 at ENMU.
“I really wrestled with it for quite a while, but I’m at peace with it,” Elliott said Thursday at ENMU’s annual football media day. “I think it’s time.
“I’m doing something I really love,” he said of coaching. “It’s remarkable over the years how many (former players) have stayed in touch with me.”
Elliott has battled health issues in recent years which have caused him to readjust his work schedule to some extent. He has had three bypass surgeries, two since he’s been at Eastern, and has undergone kidney dialysis three times a week for the past three years.
In 2002, he underwent hip replacement surgery after he couldn’t get out of the way of a play that spilled over the sideline during a spring practice scrimmage. Elliott said that was a significant factor in his decision.
“I struggle getting around with that hip,” he said.
ENMU athletic director Mike Maguire said Elliott built a loyal coaching staff and helped turned the Greyhounds into a consistent force in the Lone Star Conference.
“Bud’s really made a big impact in his time at Eastern,” he said. “He really did a good job of getting Eastern football where it needs to be.”
Maguire said he would hope the next coach might come from within Elliott’s staff. Coordinators Mike Howard (offense) and Mark Ribaudo (defense) have both been with the program for eight seasons.
“We certainly have some qualified people (on staff),” Maguire said. “And they all bleed green and silver.”
A native of Drexel, Mo., Elliott coached high school football in Kansas for 11 years before taking the head coaching job at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kan., an NAIA school, in 1964.
He went on to coach at Washburn and Emporia State in Kansas before spending 10 seasons (1974-83) at Texas-Arlington.
After four years out of coaching, Elliott was hired at Northwest Missouri State. He coached the Bearcats for six seasons before coming to ENMU in 1994.
Elliott’s teams shared Lone Star Conference South Division titles with Angelo State in 1999 and 2000. He was named LSC South coach of the year four times between 1998 and 2002, and has led the Hounds to six consecutive winning seasons.