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Oregon DC Aliotti To Retire

by Christopher Smith
Dec 27, 2013 4:55 PM EST



The Alamo Bowl now pits two teams hoping to send a long-time coach into retirement with a win.

Nick Aliotti, defensive coordinator at Oregon for the last 17 seasons, will retire following Monday's game against Texas, the team announced Friday.

"I'm not resigning; I'm not going somewhere else. I'm a Duck," Aliotti told the players, according to Rob Moseley, editor of GoDucks.com.

The Oregon defense didn't play up to expectations in 2013, particularly during a 42-16 loss to Arizona, and finished 79th in third-down conversion percentage allowed, but there are no indications that the school or coach Mark Helfrich influenced or encouraged the decision.

Aliotti started his career as a graduate assistant at Oregon in 1978. The 59-year-old returned in 1988 after stints as an offensive assistant, coaching linebackers until he became the team's defensive coordinator in 1993. He led a defense nicknamed "Gang Green" a year later as Oregon went to the Rose Bowl before coaching special teams for the St. Louis Rams (1995-97) and defense for UCLA (1998).

He's been Oregon's defensive coordinator since 1999, earning a reputation as an engaging personality unafraid to speak his mind (earlier this season he blasted Washington State for continuing to throw downfield against his backups in the second half with the game out of reach). His 2010 defense allowed just 243 points, helping Oregon reach the BCS championship against Auburn and providing support for Chip Kelly's renowned offense. Aliotti earned the Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant that season.

The Ducks probably benefited from Aliotti's presence this season, as the team transitioned from Kelly to Helfrich, a first-year head coach. That said, Oregon has lost to Stanford in back-to-back years in part because the Cardinal bullied the Ducks' defensive front, and the unit probably has underperformed this season based on the collection of talent.

Aliotti's replacement will be an important hire for Helfrich, but in the meantime, the Ducks would like to send him out with a win and prevent a Mack Brown retirement party in Texas on Monday.

“Nick’s contributions to the football program at the University of Oregon cannot be overstated,” Helfrich said in a statement. “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.”