SAN ANTONIO, Tx. -- As the dust settles in San Antonio surrounding Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti’s retirement, speculation has begun as to who will replace him.
There are several names on the list of possible replacements, including Defensive Back coach John Neal. That would help to maintain the continuity of the Ducks' coaching staff, something that has played into Oregon's hiring decisions in the past.
Athletic Director Rob Mullens said a national search for a replacement defensive coordinator would start after Friday's retirement announcement.
While we don't have the answer just yet, senior safety Brian Jackson had some questions of his own for his soon-to-be former coach.
“Since you haven’t been able to do exactly what you wanted to (for) 38 years, is there something specifically that you’ve wanted to do but not had time to do?” Jackson asked Aliotti in an interview Saturday.
“Bungee jumping, sky diving… all that stuff no, but I will make sure I spend time getting to Italy,” Aliotti answered. “And one of the simple pleasures would be, just to get up and not have anything to do.”
Whether he was asked to resign or he retired on his own (as he maintains), Aliotti has been a fixture with Oregon. He’s spent 17 years as the Ducks’ defensive coordinator through his 24 years at University of Oregon.
His final stand with Oregon will be the Alamo Bowl on Monday, where the Ducks face Texas. Kickoff is set for 3:45 p.m. PST.
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.).