Bob Elliott‘s battle with kidney failure always seemed to be on the back burner. Revealed on the eve of the BCS National Championship in a tremendous story by Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel, Elliott’s quiet battle, which included sessions of self-dialysis from the Notre Dame coaching offices, didn’t get in the way of the Irish safeties coach’s work as he helped transform a group of young and inexperienced players into an impressive group.
Elliott’s kidney transplant surgery also slipped beneath the radar, with the veteran coach undergoing the operation on Signing Day, in the midst of the Irish inking a red-letter class.
“Bobby Elliott is having a kidney transplant today,” head coach Brian Kelly said at the end of his Signing Day press conference. “He’s got a match in his sister. So that is ongoing. Our thoughts and prayers are with Bobby and his family. We know he’s going to be fine. He’s in great care.”
It appears that Elliott is on the road to recovery. Notre Dame announced that Elliott is already working from home, with hopes of rejoining the team for the spring, just as planned.
“The kidney is working well and the future looks bright,” Notre Dame released in a statement. “His sister Betsy is healing at home in Dublin, Ohio, and the family is forever grateful for her courage and love.”
Elliott’s coaching trail has already seen one detour, courtesy of a tough battle with blood cancer in 1998, which he recovered from, thanks to a bone marrow transplant. That same transplant led to the failure of Elliott’s kidneys, something diagnosed at a routine doctor’s appointment in the days following his move to South Bend.
Still, there was never any question of his spot on the coaching staff, something Kelly affirmed in his statements last week.
“He’s just a great man. He’s got great experience,” Kelly said of Elliott. “I love having him on the staff, and he’ll get through this. It’s a tough time right now for him, but I think you’re going to see him back. He’s a fighter, and I expect to see him back on the field in the spring.”