Alamo Aliotti's last stand: Duck defensive coordinator to retire

Alamo Aliotti's last stand: Duck defensive coordinator to retire
Nick Aliotti

EUGENE, Ore. - Oregon Duck football defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti plans to retire from coaching after Monday's Alamo Bowl.

The University of Oregon will begin a national search for a successor immediately.

Aliotti spent 24 of his 38 years as a coach at Oregon, including 17 years as defensive coordinator.

“After coaching for 38 years, it is time for a new chapter in my life and Kathryn’s,” Aliotti said. “Coaching is all I’ve ever known but it has been a labor of love and a fantastic ride.

“I’ve coached in a lot of great games in my life but the things I’m going to miss the most are the great players and assistant coaches I have had a privilege to work with. There is never an ideal time to announce these decisions because I don’t want to take away from the attention on this final game or the focus from the players who are the ones who deserve all the credit for getting us to where we are today.

“I’ve been fortunate to enjoy a great career and to step away from the game when I felt the time was right. Now is that time.”

In his 38-year collegiate coaching career, Aliotti has served three separate stints as an Oregon assistant coach, spanning the tenure of four different head coaches.

Aliotti worked as a graduate assistant for two seasons in 1978 before returning in 1988 under Rich Brooks to coach the program’s outside linebackers.

He was elevated to defensive coordinator prior to the 1993 season and was part a unit that spearheaded the school’s “Gang Green” defense that helped lead the school to its first Rose Bowl appearance in 37 years following the 1994 season.

Following a four-year hiatus that included stops in the NFL (St. Louis Rams, 1995-97) and UCLA (1998), the 59-year-old Northern California native returned as the Ducks as defensive coordinator under Mike Bellotti in 1999.

He continued in the same capacity for four seasons under Chip Kelly prior to this year in Mark Helfrich’s inaugural season as head coach.

“Nick’s contributions to the football program at the University of Oregon cannot be overstated,” Helfrich said. “His dedication to the success of this program will certainly leave a lasting impression that is hard to measure. I want to thank him for his loyalty and efforts to help make Oregon football what it is today, and wish him and his wife, Kathy, a long and happy retirement.”

In his career, Aliotti mentored at least 32 defensive players selected in the NFL Draft, including 2013 first-round pick Dion Jordan. | WATCH: File interview with Aliotti on Dion Jordan

He also saw promising defensive players like Cliff Harris run into trouble and out of the game. | WATCH: Aliotti on Harris troubles: 'There's only so much you can do sometimes'

The University of Oregon football program credits Aliotti with orchestrating some of the most successful defenses in school history.

Oregon led the conference in pass defense three times (2000, 2005 and 2006) and total defense in 2005 (357.7 avg.), in addition to leading the country in interceptions (26) and turnover margin (+1.62) in 2012.

An Oregon defense has never allowed fewer points (243) during a 13-game season than in 2010.

For his efforts Aliotti was nominated for the Broyles Award, given to the nation’s top collegiate assistant coach.

During the university’s 2001 Fiesta Bowl season, Oregon limited teams to 115.3 yards-per-game on the ground. Aliotti was recognized as an AFLAC National Assistant Coach of the Year recipient.

Oregon heads into Monday’s season finale pacing the Pac-12 in fewest yards allowed per play (4.69), a statistic bettered by only eight other top-tier football programs schools.

The Ducks rank 25th in the country in scoring defense (21.6 avg.) and third in the conference for the second year in a row – the third time in the last four years the program has ranked third or better in the league in scoring defense.

They also lead the league in pass efficiency defense (14th nationally) and stand fourth in the Pac-12 in total defense (381.2 avg.).