Cougar Jack Elway Dies

April 16, 2001

PULLMAN, Wash. -- Veteran football coach Jack Elway, a 1953 graduate of Washington State University and later an assistant coach for Jim Sweeney's Cougars in the early 1970's, died Monday of a heart attack at his home in Palm Springs, Calif.

Elway, who enrolled at WSU in 1949 following a standout career at Hoquiam High as a quarterback, played frosh football for the Cougars in the fall of 1949, but his college career was cut short by a knee injury.

The personable coach was a member of Sweeney's WSU staff for four years, 1972-75. Among his coaching colleagues while at WSU was current Cougar head coach Mike Price.

'I feel terrible,' offered a shaken Price when he learned of Elway's death. 'It is hard to put into words what I feel about Jack Elway. He was a great mentor to me, a super father, a great coach and a great friend. I was a young coach under Sweeney and he (Elway) helped bring me up. We were roommates on the road and when we were recruiting. His kids baby-sat my kids. Whenever I needed a laugh, I just called Jack. He was one of the funniest human beings I have ever known. We would talk football all night. He was one of a kind. There never will be another Jack Elway. I really feel for Jan and the kids. The whole offense we (WSU) use we (other coaches like Dennis Erickson and Joe Tiller) learned from Jack Elway. It all started at Northridge and then San Jose State.'

ELWAY, Jack Coach Football (WSU '53)A 1949 graduate of Hoquiam High in Hoquiam, Wash...knee injury and surgery ruined football career at WSU...never able to play...did play some freshman football in the fall of 1949...earned master's from WSU in 1956...coached at Port Angeles High (1953-61) with a 39-12 record while winning five consecutive league titles...moved to Grays Harbor JC and in six years (1961-66) had a 32-17-2 record...GHJC nationally ranked in 1963-64-65...then came five years as an assistant at Montana (1967-71) and Washington State (1972-75), the latter for Jim Sweeney...in 1976 took over the Cal State-Northridge program and was 20-11-1 in three years...moved to San Jose State in 1979 and put together a 35-20-1 record in five seasons...beat three straight Pac-10 teams to open the 1982 season...beat Stanford in 1981-82-83...head coach of Blue team in the 1982 Blue-Gray Classic and of the West team in the 1983 East-West Shrine Game...PCAA Coach-of-the-Year honors in 1980 and 1981 (after winning conference title at 9-3 and guiding SJSU to the California Bowl, their first bowl appearance in 10 years)...took over at Stanford in 1984...son John (later of the Denver Broncos) played junior high football at Lincoln Middle School in Pullman.

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