Aliotti hired by former Washington coach Rick Neuheisel as the Arizona Hotshots defensive coordinator

Nick Aliotti will be trying to beat Mike Riley and Dennis Erickson again in 2019.

The former Oregon defensive coordinator is returning to coaching in The Alliance of American Football professional league. Rick Neuheisel, the head coach of the Arizona Hotshots, officially hired Aliotti as his defensive coordinator Thursday.

The eight-team AAF, which Aliotti described as a “Triple-A football league,” begins play in February, one week after the NFL’s Super Bowl.

Riley (San Antonio Commanders) and Erickson (Salt Lake City Stallions), two former Oregon State head coaches, are now AAF head coaches.

“It’s a cool deal because of the way the league is structured and the amount of time that is involved,” Aliotti said of the four-month commitment to the fledgling AAF. “It’s not recruiting, it’s not year-round, and it allows a retired over-the-hill coach to get back in it.”


Aliotti, 64, retired from Oregon following the 2013 season after working as an assistant for Rich Brooks, Mike Bellotti, Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich.

Before his final stint as the Ducks’ defensive coordinator from 1999-2013, Aliotti was Brooks’ special teams coach with the St. Louis Rams for three seasons. He also spent one year (1998) as UCLA’s defensive coordinator.

Aliotti coached against Neuheisel, the former Colorado, Washington and UCLA coach, throughout the years, but the two became closer working together at the Pac-12 Networks.

“Maybe Rick thought I had a clue about what was going on,” the self-deprecating Aliotti said. “It’s really interesting because we’ve got Riley, Erickson, Mike Martz, Brad Childress, Mike Singletary, a few guys that I’ve run across throughout my coaching career.”

Martz, the head coach of the AAF’s San Diego franchise, was with the Rams when Aliotti was there. He also crossed paths with Childress (Atlanta head coach) and Singletary (Memphis head coach) in the NFL.

Former Oregon defensive line coach Ron Aiken has been hired to the same position by Neuheisel with the Hotshots, who will play their home games at Arizona State's Sun Devil Stadium.

“This is a pretty unique situation,” Aliotti said of returning to the sideline with a group of experienced and familiar peers. “I told Rick I would give it a try for one year. If it’s fun and it still makes me feel good when I’m doing it, then we’ll go from there.”