“Aztecs Football….So Long-Rocky Long”
San Diego State football has lost its leader.
Rocky Long has left the building, taking with him an (81-38) record, bowl wins, upsets wins over Pac 12-teams, and enormous respect from virtually everyone he crossed paths with.
He retires, with a (146-107) career ledger, at two schools that had not won in decades, first New Mexico, then up on Montezuma Mesa. He exits with 43-career wins in the Mountain West Conference, more than anyone.
Aside from the 1960s-70s run of Don Coryell, no one has ever done it better that this guy from New Mexico. He never had a losing season with the Red & Black.
Hard to believe it ended so quickly, but I should have sensed it when I found his University Email had been turned off on Monday. Should have guessed it when he came off holiday break and called a coaching staff meeting, not in the Aztecs Athletic Center, but at a restaurant.
SDSU says Long has decided to retire, approaching his 70th birthday. Others believe he may still wind up as someone’s defensive coordinator before all this is said and done.
The platitudes, the comments, the smiles, the laughs, the snippets of philosophy were fun to take part in. So too the memories of big wins against the likes of UCLA..Washington State…Stanford…Arizona State and the uplifting victories on the Blue Turf at Boise State, and in the ice-box conditions in Wyoming.
He hands the keys back to Brady Hoke, who was (13-12) in two years here, setting the program on a course of success, before he left to take the Michigan job in the Big 10-Conference. Hoke came back last year, and worked his coaching magic in the defensive front, pushing Long’s defense to the #8-ranking in the country.
Continuity in the Aztecs football program is important. Long-Hoke-cut from the same cloth.
AD-John David Wicker
..Celebrate the career of Rocky Long-the winningest coach in MWC history.
..Came to me right before Bowl Game-said he was thinking retiring
..Asked him to think more after holidays..came back December 26th-retire
..We won the minute he came here
..Great moments..great players
..(4-1) vs Pac 12-teams the last 4-years
..Two rushers-who had 2,000-yard seasons
..Built great defenses-nationally ranked
..Fortunate to have been with him develop this culture in football
..It is about toughness-grit-opportunity to beat anyone-blue bloods included.
..Rocky embraced being part of the athletic department
..As 1st time AD…I leaned on him as I learned the ropes
..Brady is part of the fabric of Aztecs football
..He ended a long bowl drought when he got here
..Brady built a foundation and Rocky added to it
..Brady believes in student-athlete experience
..Coaching search..started thinking about changes
..Rocky wanted continuity in the program
..We talked about not blowing up what we have
..Talked to others-but Brady being part of architects of this..was important.
..We spent 8-hours with Brady talking about the job-he will continue this
..We did 2-hour conference call one day
..Went to Dayton for 6-hours meeting decided to promote him
..I did not demand Rocky fire Off Coor-Jeff Horton
..I talked to 3-other candidates about head coaching job-but Brady was #1
..Brady was on ground floor of program-knows it all
..Rocky said we should hire him
..I met with President-Rocky-Associate AD to determine candidates
..I didn’t know Brady-was meaningful to spend a lot of time with him
..Money was not-never an issue-we have resources to compete MWC
..New stadium coming on board will help our revenue even more.
..I decided to retire from coaching
..This university has allowed us to be successful
..The culture here is something special..be part of this for 11-years
..It’s time to step aside after 20-years as a head coach
..I enjoy coaching but not enjoying all things as head coach
..Time for a new face-not a pretty face-new voice-Brady Hoke
..Brady will create excitement…an exciting time to be an Aztec
..The very best thing about the program is the young men in program
..We have good people…kids becoming men
..Our leaders are special players and people
..There are no “I-Guys-Me Guys” in this program..No “look at me types”
..Our veteran players police the roster
..It took Brady and I …4-to-5 years to change the culture
..We have exciting President and exciting AD…it’s time.
..Brady bringing me in was luckiest day of my life
..It worked out well for me and him too
..Hoke is the best defensive line coach in country
..He is good guy…great head football coach
..Told JD before bowl game-told him thought I as thinking of retiring.
..Was right time..best time to retire
..Word got out I was retiring..word got out..people called..
..Went and visited…Yes had 3-offers
..As of this moment I am retired…but I love coaching..most fun I had
..I would only consider coming back here as Def Coordinator
..It’s Zach Arnett’s time to shine as Def Coord
..If he ever left, I would consider working for Brady-but not before then
..I loved to coach and recruit…most fun I ever had
..JD tried hard to change my mind
..When you have my experience-you can’t change my mind
..I might help someone coach-not going to stay away from football
..Brady and I have similar philosophies-win every game
..Power 5-won’t schedule us-know they will be in for a fight
..Half of Pac 12 won’t play us anymore
..There wasn’t one thing that happened that made me decide.
..You never quit when you are (7-6)..going out 10-wins was key.
..Coach Long has made it fun..10-years ago…and then this past year
..Our friendship goes all way back to Oregon State in the Pac 10
..Our president has great commitment
..We have great players who have defined this program
..Toughness-effort…on field-in building..on the campus..
..We are about accountability-respect-trust in this program.
..We have pride in ownership in SDSU football…past-present-future
..You never get chance to do something twice in life-so fortunate to have this chance
..Will meet with staff tomorrow to talk about direction
..A leader has to lead is team with his type of men on staff.
..People don’t want to play SDSU
..I want first class guys…integrity-character on this team.
..My core-that’s who I am.
..I am proud of my career….2nd chance coming back at place we love
..There is no dream job out there for me now
..I feel real fortunate to be able to come back again
..If it wasn’t for friendship and professionalism with Rocky-I might not have come back.
..I learned a lot at Michigan-we didn’t fail..put 11-guys in NFL one year
..I lost my President and AD at Michigan-that was hard
..I learned a lot under Mark Helfrich at Oregon
..Learned a lot from Chip Kelly-How to practice
..We are keeping the 3-3-5 defense
..We can run the spread but still play power football too
..I intend to get my ‘hands dirty’ and help coach defensive line
..My job is to grow these young men
..I was told last Saturday-Rocky was retiring..Final offer Tuesday night
..I tried to talk Rocky into staying
..I will evaluate the offense and the staff
..We must change the ‘pace of the game’ on offense next year.