By Rob Moseley
Nick Aliotti’s typical Sunday schedule includes review of the Ducks’ game the night before, film study of Oregon’s next opponent and the program’s weekly family dinner.
This weekend, it included another task: answering “at least 50” emails from football fans around the country bothered by postgame comments Aliotti made Saturday.
In the wake of Oregon’s 62-38 win over Washington State, Aliotti said it was “low class” that the Cougars continued passing with their starters late in the game. The tactic resulted in two late touchdowns after the Ducks had taken a 62-24 lead, and helped WSU quarterback Connor Halliday set an FBS record for pass attempts (89), a Pac-12 record for completions (58) and another for pass yards (557).
The comments received national attention Sunday, and the Oregon defensive coordinator’s email inbox was flooded with reaction from concerned fans. Aliotti said Sunday evening he was making the effort to personally respond, expressing his remorse.
“My integrity’s important to me, and the type of person I really am wasn’t portrayed in that moment,” Aliotti said in an interview. “I got caught up in the emotion, and that’s not what a man of Oregon should do. I’m embarrassed.”
UO head coach Mark Helfrich also addressed the issue on his weekly teleconference with reporters.
“I know he's remorseful and (was) more or less caught in the moment of defending our players,” Helfrich said. “We'll all learn from that and move on.”
Aliotti said he would typically expect for starters to be pulled late in a game when one team has a decisive lead, to protect them from injury and get experience for backups. Instead, the Cougars kept Halliday in the game, and scored two late touchdowns against Oregon defenders who spent most of the week with the scout team.
But regardless, Aliotti said, his emotional comments were unwarranted.
“The bottom line is, I'm sorry,” Aliotti said. “I'm embarrassed that I got caught up in the moment after the game. There's no excuse, but sometimes right after the game the adrenaline is still flowing and I made a huge, human error in judgment. I wish I could take it back, and I promise it won't happen again.
“I'd like to apologize to Mike Leach and Bill Moos, Washington State and its fans, and Oregon and our fans.”