(Note – Pete Elliott (#45), shown above, played in the background from 1945 to 1947. Elliott’s stellar play earned him All Big Nine and All-American Honors in 1948. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.)
Pete Elliott came to Michigan as World War II was winding down. Fortunately, for Elliott and Michigan, freshman were still eligible to play in 1945. He earned two starts at left halfback and proved to Coach Fritz Crisler that he could play and contribute to Michigan football. The Wolverines finished with a record of 7 wins and 3 losses in his first year on the Michigan team. Not a great season, by Michigan standards, but something to build on.
The talented Elliott earned one start at quarterback in 1946 and played a lot in Michigan’s defensive backfield. He earned his second letter on a team that finished with 6 wins, 2 losses and 1 tie. Unfortunately, the Wolverines went 5-1-1 in the conference and finished second for the third consecutive season. Another good season, just not good enough for Michigan!
Michigan had a glut of talent in 1947 which meant that young Pete Elliott was third on the depth chart at quarterback behind Howard Yerges and Gene Derricotte. Fortunately, he continued to excel on defense. Elliott played in every game on a team that only allowed 53 points in ten games! The Wolverines also scored 394 points which is why they finished the season with a perfect record of 10 wins, 0 losses and 0 ties. Yes, Michigan also won the Big Nine Conference Championship, the Rose Bowl Championship and the National championship in 1947. The 1947 season was a great season by anyone’s standards and Pete Elliott was fortunate to be part of it.
The patient Elliott was rewarded for his dedication and persistence in 1948. New Michigan Head Coach Bennie Oosterbaan made him the starting quarterback for game number one and that’s how he finished his football career. Again, Michigan was perfect (9-0-0) and the Wolverines added another Big Nine and one more national championship trophy to the Michigan trophy case. Elliott was the ideal quarterback for Bennie Oosterbaan’s single wing offense. It required him to run, pass, catch and block and Elliott ran it to perfection. The Wolverines ended the 1948 season on a twenty-three-game winning streak that dated back to late 1946. Pete Elliott’s stellar play in 1948 earned him All-Conference and All-American honors.
Pete Elliott was fortunate to play four years of football at Michigan. The teams he played on posted a record of 32 wins, 5 losses and 1 tie which worked out to a winning percentage of just over eighty-five percent (.855). Elliott and his teammates were even better during that period in the Big Nine Conference. Michigan posted an incredible record of 22 wins, 2 losses and 1 tie (.900) during that amazing run. They won two straight conference titles (1947 & 1948) and finished second in 1945 and 1946.
Elliott was the first Michigan football player to win four letters in football as well as four more in basketball and four more in golf. He is the only athlete in Michigan history to earn 12 varsity letters! He is the first and only football player to be a two-time captain of the basketball team and win the MVP award too!
Pete Elliott did some more amazing things once he left Ann Arbor. He became the first man to coach against his brother when his Illinois team faced off against Bump’s Wolverines on November 5, 1960. He also made history when he became the first former player of the Crisler/Oosterbaan Era to win a Big Ten Championship in 1963. Older brother, Bump, followed Pete’s lead and won the Big Ten Championship in 1964. Obviously, back-to-back “brother” championships is the first and only time that this has ever happened in Big Ten Football history. Finally, Bump and Pete Elliott are the only “All-American” brothers to win Big Ten Championships and the Rose Bowl too!
Bottom line − Peter R. Elliott was one of the greatest athletes in the history of the University of Michigan! He left Ann Arbor to live and work in a successful “sports life” that spanned almost fifty-years. Today is a great day to remember this amazing “Michigan Man” and appreciate his contributions to Michigan football, college football and professional football. Sadly, Pete Elliott died on January 4, 2013, May Pete Elliott always rest in peace. Go Blue!
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