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Posted on Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 7:03 p.m.

Former Michigan football All-American quarterback Pete Elliott dies at age 86

By Pete Cunningham

Former Michigan All-American quarterback Pete Elliott died on Friday. He was 86.


Pete Elliott, above, was an All-American quarterback on Michigan's 1948 national championship team.

Associated Press

Elliott played football for Michigan from 1945-48 and was a member of back-to-back undefeated, untied teams his final two years. The 9-0 1948 team was crowned national champions by the Associated Press while the 10-0 team of 1947 finished second in the polls with Notre Dame winning the championship.

Back then, voting took place before bowl games, and after Elliott led Michigan to a 49-0 win against Southern California in the 1948 Rose Bowl, an unofficial AP poll was taken with Michigan finishing ahead of Notre Dame by a margin of 226-119.

Elliott was named a first team All-American quarterback by the International News Service as a senior, but he wasn't a quarterback in the traditional sense. Though he led the team in passing and total offense in 1945, his All-American accolades were as a "defensive quarterback." Michigan's football archives state that he "came to Michigan in 1945 as a Navy trainee, starring as a runner and passer. Shifted to quarterback, where his blocking and defensive strength became invaluable."

Elliott didn't just star for the football team. He became the only Michigan athlete to earn 12 varsity letters, starring for the basketball and golf teams as well. He captained the 1946-47 basketball team.

Pete was the younger brother of Chalmers "Bump" Elliott who was also an All-American at Michigan and the head coach from 1959-68. The brothers were inducted into the Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor in 1986. Pete's son, Bruce Elliott, was a defensive back for Michigan

After college, Elliott joined the coaching ranks, winning two national titles as an assistant at Oklahoma. He served as head coach at Nebraska, California, Illinois and Miami. He stepped down from Miami in 1975 to become athletic director, a position he held until 1978.

Elliott became the executive director for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979 and held the position for 17 years, longer than anyone before or since.

“Pete was beloved by the entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family, including the staff, board of trustees and the Hall of Fame members," Hall of Fame shared president/executive director Steve Perry said in a release. "He was a kind and thoughtful person and an inspiration to us all. We are all better for having had him in our lives.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Pete Cunningham covers sports for He can be reached at or by phone at 734-623-2561. Follow him on Twitter @petcunningham.


WW II Veteran

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 5:02 p.m.

The Elliott brothers were great foot ball players and students.If I remember correctly both came to the U of M under th governments ROTC program.. God Bless the Elliott Family

Pete Cunningham

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 5:52 p.m.

Pete came to Michigan as a "Navy trainee" according to his UM bio. It doesn't state whether it was a reserve officer training corps (ROTC). I'd have to do a little research to find out exactly what programs Michigan offered at the time. Bump was an enlisted member of the Marine Corps and was assigned to the V-12 Navy College Training Program at Purdue straight out of high school where he lettered in football, baseball and basketball. The Marines called him to active duty for WWII in late 1944 and he served in China. Upon Bump's return, he enrolled at Michigan in 1946 to join his brother, who was already the QB at Michigan. I believe Bump was discharged and therefore had no military tie (besides the GI bill, likely) during his time at UM, but I'd have to do some research to be sure.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 4:43 p.m.

Both Pete and Bump Elliott were heroes of mine when I was 6 to 10 years old. I was lucky enough to meet them several times after games, back when the players would mill around outside the locker room for awhile. Both were true gentlemen and very friendly with the young kids. I can remember my father commenting, "Their parents must be very proud of those two boys." I had the great pleasure of getting re-acquainted with both Elliott brothers in the 90's when they participated in the Milly Schembechler Golf Tournament . They acted like they remembered me from their playing days - although I rather doubt it. :-D But they were still very kind and friendly, well-spoken, and polite. . . real pleasures to be around. And both could still play a mean round of golf - especially Pete.

Lifetime AA ND Fan

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 3:13 p.m.

Pete, that reminded me of another local connection for the bowl games... his nephew (and Bump's son) is Bob Elliot... ND's safeties coach. Thoughts and prayers to the whole Elliot family.


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 1:44 a.m.

A great quarterback for the Pioneers who kicked our River Rat butts in the first clash of the AA teams, which was held in the Big House. Bob Elliott was a tough kid, short on size and talent, but long on desire and attitude--having a very successful playing career at Iowa. The Elliott family is one of AA's treasures--and Pete was one of the finest.

Pete Cunningham

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 4:38 p.m.

Good call. Here's a link to Pete's nephew's (Bump's son's) bio:


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 12:56 a.m.

Thank you for sharing this. Many young Ann Arborites have been and are blessed to be part of the Elliott legacy by having the great fortune to be coached by Bruce Elliott, who has volunteered countless hours to advancing young athlete's enjoyment of field hockey. God bless the Elliott family.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 12:32 a.m.

Absolutely First Class! He defined Michigan! And, don't forget Dave Elliott, his younger son who also was a great defensive back for Michigan! UM lost one of its All Time greats! God Bless!