By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers
PORTALES — Eastern New Mexico University’s Bud Elliott, coming to the end of a coaching career this week that dates to the early 1950s, admits to mixed feelings about his impending retirement.
ENMU’s football coach for the past 11 seasons, the 72-year-old Elliott will retire after Saturday’s 1 p.m. season finale against Western New Mexico at Greyhound Stadium.
“After 48 years, I don’t know why I wouldn’t (feel that way),” he said. “It’s been my life, and it’s hard to let it go.”
Except for a four-year period in the mid-1980s when he was in private business, Elliott has been a college head coach since 1964. He won his 200th college game early this season and is 204-179-9 overall, including 67-49-2 at ENMU where he is the school’s winningest coach.
He began his coaching career in 1953, spending 11 years as a head coach in Kansas high schools.
ENMU (5-5) is looking for its seventh winning season in a row, and ninth in Elliott’s 11 years, when they take on the Mustangs (2-7).
Elliott said he worries about a letdown after last week’s 34-20 Lone Star Conference South Division loss at Midwestern State.
“I really want us to play well,” he said. “I was so disappointed with the second half this last ballgame. We blew an opportunity to be tied for first place (with Texas A&M-Kingsville) in the Lone Star South.
“At the same time, we got beat by a pretty good football team.”
The Hounds and Mustangs did not play last year for the first time since 1989, but Eastern hasn’t loss to WNMU since Elliott came to the school in 1994 (9-0).
“This is a big game, and our guys will play hard,” Veteran WNMU coach Charley Wade said. “I’ve known coach Elliott since 1972; I think he’s a tremendous coach, and they’ve built a nice program at Eastern.”
Western opened the season with a 23-20 win in four overtimes at LSC South member Angelo State, but since then not much has gone right for the Mustangs. Their only other win was at Mesa State (49-24) in late September.
Elliott said while the Mustangs may resort to some trick plays on offense, the strength of their team is on defense, led by 6-foot-3, 255-pound senior middle linebacker Valentine Chude.
“He makes a lot of plays,” Elliott said. “Offensively, they’ve had their difficulties, but Charley Wade is the kind of football coach that if you don’t stay (alert) he’ll do something to screw you up.”