By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
Former Eastern New Mexico University football coach Harold “Bud” Elliott made a lasting impression on many of his colleagues around the Lone Star Conference.
Elliott, ENMU’s football coach from 1994-2004, died early Tuesday at the age of 73 in Lubbock from heart and kidney failure.
West Texas A&M’s Don Carthel, who was ENMU’s coach from 1985-91, took note of the numerous former players who ended up joining Elliott’s staff with the Greyhounds.
“The coaching profession lost a great person,” Carthel said. “We’re dearly going to miss him. He was a great example for young coaches getting into the profession.”
Carthel has seen the ENMU-WT rivalry from both sides, and said it has been a good one over the years.
“Eastern has always had class and character with their team, and he demanded that,” Carthel said of Elliott. “He recruited guys that had character and good potential in the classroom.”
Elliott was also effective in making in-game adjustments, Carthel said.
“At halftime, if we’d been doing something to his team, he’d adjust better than any coach I’ve ever gone against,” said Carthel, who coached against Elliott as a volunteer assistant at Abilene Christian from 2000-03.
Jerry Vandergriff, who also retired following the 2004 season after 23 years at Angelo State, said he and Elliott first met when Elliott was at Texas-Arlington in the early 1980s.
He said people like Elliott have been good for the LSC.
“It’s been a great conference because of people like Bud, who got in and stayed at a place and tried to make it the best they could,” Vandergriff said. “He was an icon in this business. He knew as much about what he was doing as anyone I’ve ever been around.
“He was a gentleman off the field. Bud was what a coach should be.”
Midwestern State’s Bill Maskill, one of only two non-first-year head coaches in the LSC’s South Division, said he contacted Elliott when considering whether to apply at the Wichita Falls school four years ago.
“We always had a chess game (when their teams played),” Maskill said. “We’d do one thing, and they’d adjust, and they’d do something and we’d adjust. Bud was just a fine, fine man and a fine football coach.”
Both had applied for the vacant Northwest Missouri State job in 1987, which went to Elliott. Maskill ended up at Southeast Missouri State, then a conference rival, and the two developed a friendship.
“He’s had a wonderful career, and he’s very well-respected,” Maskill said.
Richard Cundiff, who has been at Texas A&M-Kingsville since 1985 and the Javelinas’ head coach for six seasons, said he admired Elliott’s consistency.
“Bud Elliott was one of the good ones,” Cundiff said. “There’s a lot of guys in this profession that are up-and-down, but he was pretty steady.
“He was a very competitive person, and his teams were always ready to play. I respected him as a person, and I had even more respect for him as a coach.”