Longtime Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti will retire following the Ducks' season finale in the Alamo Bowl, the school announced Friday.
“After coaching for 38 years, it is time for a new chapter in my life and Kathryn’s,” Aliotti said in the school's official announcement. “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.”
The irony here, of course, is that Aliotti will be greatly overshadowed at his own going away party; the Alamo Bowl is also Mack Brown's last game at Texas. And that's probably just fine with Aliotti. The 59-year-old was never infatuated with the limelight. He just wanted to coach ball.
Aliotti has been Oregon's defensive coordinator for 17 seasons, with a two-year stint in 1993-94 and then again from 1999 until now; he is one of (if not the first) the longest-tenured coordinators in all of football. He rode shotgun for the entirety of Oregon's run from the middle of the Pac-10 to the elite of college football, helping Oregon win conference titles in 2001, 2009, 2010 and 2011. Working under Mike Bellotti, Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich, Oregon is 166-57 with Aliotti running the defense, came within three points of winning a national championship and is working on its ninth top-12 finish in 17 seasons.
A 2010 Broyles Award finalist, Aliotti helped mold an Oregon defense that set a school record for fewest points allowed and led the Pac-10 in pass defense three times and led the entire nation in interceptions and turnover margin in 2012.
“Nick’s contributions to the football program at the University of Oregon cannot be overstated,” Oregon head coach Mark 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.”
A former running back at UC Davis, Aliotti began his coaching career at his alma mater. From there, he served as a graduate assistant at Oregon, coached running backs at Oregon State, served as offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Chico State, then switched to outside linebackers in his return to Oregon in 1988. He was promoted to defensive coordinator in 1993, and left to become the St. Louis Rams' special teams coordinator in 1995. After three seasons in St. Louis and a one-year stay at UCLA, where he helped the Bruins win the Pac-10 title in 1998, Aliotti returned for his third and final stint in Eugene.
Oregon's Alamo Bowl match-up with Texas will be Monday, Dec. 30 at 6:45 p.m. ET on ESPN.
The school stated the search for Aliotti's replacement will begin "immediately." Needless to say, this will be Helfrich's first major hire as Oregon's head coach.