FOOTBALL: Long ready to replace Hoke

by Edward Lewis

Antonio Zaragoza / Photo Editor

There wasn’t a team meeting, a farewell press conference or a tearful goodbye.

Brady Hoke sent out a mass text message to his players, and with that, he was off. So long San Diego State, hello Michigan.

“It was a long night of travel flying here,” Hoke told reporters shortly after his hiring at Michigan. “But we would’ve walked to the University of Michigan. The Rockies would have been tough, but we would have walked here.”

While one coach couldn’t wait to get out of San Diego, another was ready to step up and lead the city’s only Division I football program: defensive coordinator Rocky Long.

Hours after Hoke bolted for the head coaching job at Michigan, SDSU Athletic Director Jim Sterk named Long SDSU’s new head coach.

And after he signed on the dotted line to become the Aztecs’ 18th head coach in SDSU football history, Long believed he got the better gig.

“This is a much better deal,” Long said. “We’ve got things started here. They’ve got a lot of work to do there.”

Hoke reportedly offered Long the defensive coordinator job at Michigan, but Long turned it down once Sterk asked him to be SDSU’s head coach.

Other coaches on Hoke’s Aztec staff, however, took his offer. Offensive coordinator Al Borges is gone. So is offensive line coach Darrell Funk, running backs coach / recruiting coordinator Jeff Hecklinski, linebackers coach Mark Smith and, arguably most important, strength and conditioning coach Aaron Wellman.

But Long expects to fill out his coaching staff within the next few weeks, and he expects to be the Aztecs’ head coach for a long time.

“This is not a stepping stone for me,” Long said. “This is going to be my last coaching job. I hope it lasts 10 to 15 to 20 years.”