“Aztecs Football-Respect-Deserve It or Earn It?”
What you did last year was nice, but it doesn’t mean too much right now.
Or maybe people, the media pundits, just weren’t paying attention.
Or maybe you have no real history nor tradition so you are not front of mind with anybody.
Just another mid-major team in an off-the-radar conference, striving to be very good every year, doing that, but not getting rewarded.
San Diego State is caught between the ‘rock and the hard place’. They are in the shadow of all things PAC-12 Conference, namely UCLA-USC. They play in the Mountain West Conference, where the only recognizable name is Boise State, and no one else matters.
So the preseason polls are out, and no one cares, no one paid attention, no one respects nor believes in you.
The Aztecs finished with a 10-game winning streak; they won 11-games last year; they battered the Cincinnati Bearcats in the Aloha Bowl. They return a roster full of talent.
And nowhere to be seen in the preseason polls, anywhere.
The prestigious Associated Press did not rank them in the Top 25. ESPN did not ranked them in their top 50. The USA Today coaches poll did not give them recognition, unless you think being tabbed 37th is worth the bother.
Sports Illustrated slotted them at 24th and said they could be this year’s University of Houston, who had the unbeaten regular season for awhile last year. College Football News ranked them 43rd.
You want to rankle Rocky Long at a press conference, ask him if SDSU is about to become the next Boise State, flagship of the conference. This after his team beat up the Broncos a couple of times the last couple of years, including wins on the Blue Turf up there.
Don’t tell him a couple of polls this year have Boise rated higher than San Diego State, despite it appearing the Broncos are no longer what they used to be.
The only solution. Blast the people on this year’s schedule. That would include beating the Cal Golden Bears of the PAC-12, and then going cross country and winning in DeKalb, in a tough place to play, at Northern Illinois. There are other road games of concern, at Fresno or at South Alabama or to Utah State.
But (12-0) will force people to recognize you by late November. Winning the conference championship game, and beating, say Boise again, should get you more recognition.
And if you can do all that, and get a bid to a New Year’s Day Bowl game, you are positioned to get the respect you think you deserve.
Long takes exception to any critical question about the growth of his program. It has come in steps, winning seasons, he is (43-23); bowl games, six in a row; name bowl game against a really good opponent, still to be accomplished.
You remember Fresno State, under Pat Hill, ‘play anybody, any time, anywhere’ in the Trent Dilfer era. They got recognition as they were winning..
And how did Boise State become someting special? Bowl game wins vs Georgia, Oklahoma and more.
The Aztecs have a tremendous defense. What they did from week four on was staggering. The stats stood out in neon lights.
…99-tackles for losses
…28%-3rd down conversion rate
…3.2YPC against the run
…53% completion rate-opposing quarterbacsk
…16-points a game allowed
…283-yards per game allowed.
The Red & Black teams are good. The Aztecs program is even better.
But until there is a New Year’s Day invitation, and a New Year’s Day bowl victory. very good just won’t be enough.
San Diego State deserves respect. They’ll just have to earn it.