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Aliotti will retire after Alamo Bowl

by: TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT - University of Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti plans to retire after Monday night's Valero Alamo Bowl. He spent 24 years on the Ducks' coaching staff.University of Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti said Friday that he will retire after the 10th ranked Ducks play the Texas Longhorns in the Valero Alamo Bowl.

Universty athletic department officials said they would begin a national search for his successor.

Alioti spent 24 years on the Oregon coaching staff, 17 of those as defensive coordinator. He has coached some of the most successful defenses in school history, with Oregon leading the Pac-10 (then Pac-12) 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 (plus 1.62) in 2012.

Aliotti said it was time for “a new chapter” in his life.

“Coaching is all I’ve ever known but it has been a labor of love and a fantastic ride,” he said Friday. “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.”

Head coach Mark Helfrich praised Aliotti’s contributions to the University of Oregon program after the announcement.

“His dedication to the success of this program will certainly leave a lasting impression that is hard to measure,” Helfrich said. “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.”

Gang Green defense

The 38-year collegiate coaching veteran has served three separate stints as an Oregon assistant coach, spanning the tenure of four different head coaches. Aliotti initiated his stay in Eugene 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 instrumental in 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 campaign.

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’ defensive coordinator under Mike Bellotti in 1999. He continued in the same capacity for four seasons under Chip Kelly prior to this year in Helfrich’s inaugural season as head coach.

The 1976 UC Davis graduate broke into the coaching ranks at his alma mater that fall, with his coaching career including stops at Oregon State (1980-83) and Chico State (1984-87) in addition to his stay at Oregon.