3-point stance: Cheers to Aliotti

December, 30, 2013
12/30/13
5:30
AM ET
1. College football will be a lot duller Tuesday because Nick Aliotti will have coached his last game as the Oregon defensive coordinator. Aliotti has done a terrific job under Rich Brooks, Mike Bellotti, Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich. Last spring, newly a grandfather, Aliotti sounded like a guy who could live without the game. “Football doesn’t define me. It’s what I do for a living,” Aliotti said. “I just happen to be a football coach. Do you know what I’m saying? I don’t need people to interview me. To be honest with you, I’d be perfectly happy to be on the golf course, just being with my wife and my kids.”

2. The difference between a winning season and a losing season? It will be hard to find one snap more important in any bowl than Syracuse freshman Brisly Estime's 70-yard punt return to the Minnesota 14. Estime’s return with 2:00 to play set up the Orange’s winning touchdown in a thrilling 21-17 victory in the Texas Bowl. The Golden Gophers dominated the fourth quarter to that point, fighting back from a 14-3 deficit to take the lead. The best part? It was only Estime’s fourth punt return this season.

3. Miami had a 6-0 record and a No. 7 ranking when the NCAA announced in October that the Hurricanes’ sanctions would include no more bowl bans. Without that NCAA sword hanging above the Canes, they could realize their ambitions, right? Not with this defense. Miami lost four of its last six games, bookending 27-point losses to Florida State and Louisville around 18-point losses to Virginia Tech and Duke. Al Golden can now recruit without having to worry about what the NCAA will do. He needs to.

Ivan Maisel | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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