Jack Elway

Jack Elway
Sport(s) Football
Biographical details
Born (1931-05-30)May 30, 1931
Hoquiam, Washington
Died April 15, 2001(2001-04-15) (aged 69)
Palm Springs, California
Playing career
1950 Washington State
Position(s) Quarterback
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1953–1960 Port Angeles HS (WA)
1961–1966 Grays Harbor College
1967–1971 Montana (assistant)
1972–1975 Washington State (assistant)
1976–1978 Cal State Northridge
1979–1983 San Jose State
1984–1988 Stanford
1991–1992 Frankfurt Galaxy
Administrative career (AD unless noted)
1993–1999 Denver Broncos (scout)
Head coaching record
Overall 80–60–4 (college)
10–10 (WLAF)
Bowls 0–2
Accomplishments and honors
1 PCAA (1981)

John Albert "Jack" Elway, Sr. (May 30, 1931 – April 15, 2001) was an American football player and coach. He was the head coach at California State University, Northridge from 1976 to 1978, at San Jose State University from 1979 to 1983, and at Stanford University from 1984 to 1989, compiling a career college football record of 80–60–4. Elway also served as the head coach for the Frankfurt Galaxy of the World League of American Football (WLAF) from 1991 to 1992, tallying a mark of 10–10. He was the father of John Elway, Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback.

Early life

A native of Hoquiam, Washington, Elway played quarterback at Hoquiam High School under head coach Jack Swarthout and graduated in 1949. He played at Washington State College in Pullman for one season until a knee surgery ended his playing career. He earned both bachelor's and master's degrees from Washington State.[1]

Early coaching career

Elway then taught and coached at Port Angeles High School on the Olympic Peninsula; all three of his children were born in Port Angeles. In 1961, he was hired as the head coach at Grays Harbor College, a junior college in Aberdeen, near his hometown of Hoquiam in southwestern Washington. Following the 1966 season, he became an assistant coach in the Big Sky Conference at the University of Montana under head coach Swarthout, his high school coach.[1]

After five seasons in Missoula with the Grizzlies,[2] he moved to the Pac-8 at his alma mater following the 1971 season, as an assistant under head coach Jim Sweeney, and stayed in Pullman for four seasons.[3] Sweeney abruptly resigned after the 1975 season and went south to Fresno State, so Elway stayed on the Palouse and joined the staff at neighboring Idaho under head coach Ed Troxel in February 1976.[4][5] Elway replaced Dennis Erickson, who had joined Sweeney at Fresno in December.[4] Elway didn't stay long as an assistant in Moscow; he left in late March after only five weeks on the Vandals' staff to accept a Division II head coaching position in southern California.[6][7][8]

Head coaching career

In late March 1976, Elway was introduced as the head coach at Cal State Northridge in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles.[7][8] At the time, Elway's son John was a budding high school quarterback, finishing his freshman year at Pullman High School.[9] He transferred to Granada Hills High School at the start of his sophomore year, and his play over the next three football seasons invited scores of scholarship offers; he selected Stanford and enrolled in 1979.[10]

After three seasons at Northridge, Jack Elway moved up the California coast (and up to Division I) to San Jose State following the 1978 season,[2] where his first offensive coordinator was Dennis Erickson. They employed the spread offense, which Elway had picked up from his son's high school coach, Jack Neumeier, and then used at Northridge.[11] San Jose State had considerable success, especially against Stanford, where son John was the starting quarterback through the 1982 season.[12] Jack's Spartans won three consecutive games over Stanford from 1981 to 1983, and he compiled an overall record of 35–20–1 (.634) in five seasons.

After John's graduation, Jack moved the few miles up the peninsula to Stanford in 1984, where he was head coach for five seasons with a 25–29–2 record (.464). In 1991, he coached the Frankfurt Galaxy of the WLAF during the team's first two years. Elway then was in the Denver Broncos' scouting department from 199399, the last five as director of pro scouting.[1]


Elway died at age 69 in 2001, following an apparent heart attack at his home in Palm Springs, California.[13] He was survived by his wife, Jan, daughters, Lee Ann and Jana, son John, and eight grandchildren. He was buried at Sunset Memorial Park in his hometown of Hoquiam, Washington. His younger daughter Jana, twin sister of John, died of lung cancer in 2002 at the age of 42.[14][15][16][17]

Head coaching record


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Cal State Northridge Matadors (California Collegiate Athletic Association) (1976–1978)
1976 Cal State Northridge 8–3
1977 Cal State Northridge 7–3–1
1978 Cal State Northridge 5–5
Cal State Northridge: 20–11–1
San Jose State Spartans (Pacific Coast Athletic Association) (1979–1983)
1979 San Jose State 6–4–1 4–0–1 2nd
1980 San Jose State 7–4 3–2 3rd
1981 San Jose State 9–3 5–0 1st L California
1982 San Jose State 8–3 4–2 3rd
1983 San Jose State 5–6 3–3 T–3rd
San Jose State: 35–20–1 19–7–1
Stanford Cardinal (Pacific-10 Conference) (1984–1988)
1984 Stanford 5–6 3–5 T–7th
1985 Stanford 4–7 3–5 7th
1986 Stanford 8–4 5–3 T–4th L Gator
1987 Stanford 5–6 4–4 T–4th
1988 Stanford 3–6–2 1–5–2 9th
Stanford: 25–29–2 16–22–2
Total: 80–60–4
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Frankfurt Galaxy (WLAF) (1991–1992)
1991 Frankfurt Galaxy 7–3 1–1 3rd European
1992 Frankfurt Galaxy 3–7 3–1 2nd European
Frankfurt Galaxy: 10–10
Total: 10–10


  1. 1 2 3 Smith, Craig (April 17, 2001). "Jack Elway, father and longtime coach, dead". Seattle Times. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
  2. 1 2 'Modesto Bee - Spartans hire new coach - 1978-12-13 - p.D-7
  3. ESPN.com - ESPN Classic - Jack Elway was major influence on son's career - Associated Press - 2001-04-22
  4. 1 2 "Idaho hires ex-WSU assistant Jack Elway as offensive coach". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). February 18, 1976. p. 1B.
  5. "Idaho Staff adds Elway". Kingman Miner. (Arizona). Associated Press. February 18, 1976. p. 10.
  6. "Short Cuts". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). March 26, 1976. p. 29.
  7. 1 2 "Elway gets coaching job in Cal". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). March 26, 1976. p. 3B.
  8. 1 2 "Jack Elway land head coaching job". Free Lance-Star. (Fredericksburg, Virginia. Associated Press. March 25, 1976. p. 10.
  9. Pierce, Oliver (January 23, 1987). "From Pullman to Pasadena". Idahonian. (Moscow). p. 17.
  10. Ratto, Ray (October 17, 1982). "The delicious dilemma of John Elway". Family Weekly. p. 6.
  11. SFGate.com - Jack Elway Dies at Age 69 / John Elway's dad coached Stanford, San Jose State - 2001-04-17
  12. Olderman, Murray (November 6, 1981). "Elway discovers ups, downs". Nevada Daily Mail. (Missouri). NEA. p. 8.
  13. "Football guru Jack Elway dies". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. April 17, 2001. p. 1C.
  14. "Elway's twin sister dies at age 42 in Stanford". ESPN. Associated Press. July 25, 2002. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
  15. "Elway talks about losing his sister to lung cancer". KMGH-TV. (Denver). November 26, 2005. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
  16. Simers, T.J. (February 1, 2004). "Being John Elway not as easy as you think". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
  17. "Jana Elway Sever". Find a Grave. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
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