SAN ANTONIO – Longtime Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti said Friday he will retire following next week’s game against Texas in the Alamo Bowl, revealing that he wanted to step away after last season but didn’t once Chip Kelly bolted for the NFL.
Aliotti has spent 24 years with the Ducks, including 17 as defensive coordinator. After Oregon won the Fiesta Bowl last season, Aliotti said he was so certain that he coached his final game that he grabbed a chunk of turf from the field and stuffed it in a plastic bag, which remains in his briefcase.
But when Kelly left to coach Philadelphia, Aliotti said he stuck around to ease the transition for first-year Ducks coach Mark Helfrich.
“In a perfect world, if I was really selfish, I wouldn’t have coached this year,” Aliotti said. “I don’t want this to be misconstrued. I felt like it would be for the betterment of the program if I stayed.”
Aliotti, 59, said he always planned to retire by 60. He acknowledged having some second thoughts about never taking a head coaching job but said he was grateful to leave the profession on his terms.
Aliotti said Helfrich suggested to him that now was the best time to make the announcement, and not wait until after Monday’s game.
“This isn’t a ploy,” Aliotti said. “This isn’t, ‘Let’s win one for the Gipper.’ I want to make that perfectly clear.”
Aliotti’s defense allowed 21.6 points per game this season for the No. 10 Ducks. Oregon finished ranked fourth in the Pac-12 in total defense, giving up 381.2 yards per game, but first in yards per play allowed at 4.69.
Aliotti spent 38 years in coaching, including a brief stint in the NFL as an assistant for St. Louis in the 1990s. He said he’ll offer suggestions for his replacement at Oregon if asked.
The Alamo Bowl is also the farewell game for Texas coach Mack Brown, who is resigning after 16 seasons.