Jul 26, 2013; Culver City, CA, USA; Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich speaks to the media during PAC-12 media day held at the Sony Studios Lot. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

WSU Football: Alliotti Provides A Coaching Moment For Helfrich

If Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Alliotti was intent on deflecting attention from the outstanding, dominating performance by his team last Saturday night in defeating Washington State by a final score of 62-38, I have two words for the coach.

“Well done.”

In a game where team focus and unity is paramount, Alliotti managed to assert himself and his opinions in a more prominent position than the extraordinary effort put in by his No. 3 ranked Ducks.

Alliotti chose to denigrate WSU Coach Mike Leach on the basis his Cougs were expected to play for a full 60-minutes regardless of what the numbers were on the scoreboard.

Specifically, Alliotti called Leach’s coaching up WSU players as “low class” and play calling in the final minutes of the game “bull(crap)” Yes, I have chosen to paraphrase the exact word tossed about with reckless abandon by a coach who is entrusted with the responsibility to lead student-athletes both on and off the field.

Just as former Duck Coach Chip Kelly was forced into a coaching moment his first year running the Oregon football program, first year Coach Mark Helfrich found himself in the midst of an embarrassing light being focused on his university.

Comparing the two situations simply adds more embarrassment for the Oregon football program to contend with.

Kelly had to deal with LaGarrett Blount actually throwing a sucker punch at an opposing player showing a lack of maturity at the end of a game the Ducks lost to Boise State in 2009. Following a serious discussion with coaches, publicly Blount was clearly contrite saying he regretted the actions leading to his suspension and the shadow he cast over Oregon football.

Helfrich obviously had a very serious discussion with Alliotti following his verbal attack on Coach Leach through the media. Trying to make things right, Alliotti issued an apology of sorts to Leach through the very same media which gave him a pulpit and the opportunity to call out Washington State’s head man.

“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.”

“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.”


Time will tell whether or not Alliotti actually has learned from his grievous mistake. He will be given the chance to support his self-image in the eyes of others through actions rather than words.

As expected, Coach Helfrich is standing by his defensive coordinator. “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.”

The image of Oregon football has been tarnished by the actions of one of their leaders. To legitimately return luster to a program that has become a national brand in recent years, Coach Helfrich and his staff must work to redirect the spotlight to accomplishments by the Ducks on the field of play.

There’s no place for blatant disrespect of opponents in the arena of college sports.

It will take time and positive steps to reverse the mistake made when Alliotti lowered himself to the vitriolic tone witnessed in Washington, DC, politics recently. College athletics usually offer a respite from divisive rhetoric.

Hopefully Alliotti will prove his sincerity by turning down the volume off the field allowing fans to enjoy Pac-12 football. Thankfully the voices of the rest of the conference will easily drown out the whining of a singular coach.

The Conference of Champions takes pride in leading the nation in all aspects of college athletics.

Competing at the highest level should always be the watchwords of the Pac-12.


Tags: Football Mark Helfrich Mike Leach Nick Alliotti Oregon Ducks Washington State Cougars

  • CougGeoff

    Very well said Lew. I believe Alliotti’s apology was at the demand of Helfrich more so than any true remorse expressed by the DC. If his integrity is still important to him he’ll keep his yap shut. “I promise it won’t happen again.” I believe him. His job is hanging on it.

    • Duckitect Duckitect

      As a Duck fan I would rather that Alliotti had kept his views on Leach from the public realm. However he made a point publicly that is important in understanding the unwritten rules of coaching etiquette and gamesmanship. You would have to be naive
      to believe that Leaches reason for leaving-in the first team was to teach them not to quit, the players have been playing football for at least ten years, if they haven’t learned that lesson by now you may as well write them off as not having “the right stuff”.Leach won’t win any popularity contests against Alliotti and no one across the country really cares that Alliotti called out leach publicly with the exception of Cougar fans. See a more logical opinion on the link below.


  • YouGotPwned

    Was Alliotti talking about the same Mike Leach, who only a few weeks earlier said “f__k you” to the Idaho Head Coach? In the middle of the football field? After WSU won 49-0? On National TV? Talk about a “denigrating” “embarrassment” to the WSU football program. Leach’s “grievous” mischoice of “divisive
    rhetoric” and “blatant disrespect of opponents” will forever “tarnish” college sports! Now can we get off our bumptious high horses and move on? Oh wait…WSU football isn’t moving on…ouch.

  • Dante Santini

    Speaking of a teachable moment, do you think that that mad bomber Connor Halliday, who has quite the arm, was really glad he could pad his stats (while equating the # of TDs thrown to interceptions) and show up the Ducks scout team defensive backs with those magnificent end zone fades of during the closing minutes of Saturday’s night game? I wonder. But if it made Mr. Leach proud, then all the better.
    I just wonder how Leach and his QB and all you Cougar fans, who I respect and want you to happier with a better team than in the recent past, would feel with the score 76 -24 had Oregon kept it’s starts in the whole of the 4th quarter.
    I thought so. (Now quit whinning about our whining and win out and win that damn Apple Bowl again!)

  • long time duck

    Accept Alotti was correct – he just did it in the wrong way… EVERY other team this season has done the same when Oregon pulled the starters and when its time to get the backups some time. As well they may have friends watching and never get to play in a game. Get them on the field. Pull the starters. Do the right thing. In other games NOT with the Ducks the same happens – its sport wide. Its part of the correct sportsmanship of college football. Leach needs the lesson. Allioti just a better way to say it.

  • http://Allcougdup.com/ AllCoug’dUp (Joshua Davis)

    I have never seen a team pull it’s starters in that situation. I’m glad Leach doesn’t care what the other team does. This is about US getting better. I don’t give two flips what Oregon does with their team in the 4th. They don’t pull their starters to save anybody embarrassment, they do it to avoid unnecessary injuries. That’s THEIR deal. They didn’t get where they are pulling starters in the 4th quarter when they were behind though, I’ll tell you that.

    • Duckitect Duckitect

      There was no way WSU could have made the game competitive in the 4th quarter after the hole they dug for themselves. The game was over. If leach wants to risk injuring his starters by “supposedly” trying to teach them a lame lesson about not quitting when the game is decided, then good for him. It is really what people have come to expect from leach which is him protecting his own ego and image. The “pirate” yeah right !

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