Syracuse Football: Rocky Long steps down at SDSU, could be next DC

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Syracuse football, Rocky Long (Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images)

Rocky Long has stepped down at San Diego State. Here are all the details on that move + why Syracuse football is hoping to make him their next DC.

Syracuse football adding Rocky Long as their next defensive coordinator just became more realistic on Wednesday.

Long-time San Diego State head coach Rocky Long has “stepped down” from his position as head coach to pursue opportunities as a defensive coordinator, per Bruce Feldman of The Athletic.

In case you missed it Long was in Syracuse interviewing for the vacant defensive coordinator role earlier this week. At the time of the visit with Dino Babers, Rocky Long was still holding the title of head coach of the Aztecs.

On Wednesday, San Diego State announced that Rocky Long “has retired” as head coach of the Aztecs. Despite the retirement wording from the University, ESPN reports, “that Long who turns 70 later this month, expects to keep working, likely as a defensive coordinator.”

If Syracuse football is able to land Long it’ll be a major win for the program.

Rocky finished as the second-winningest coach in San Diego State history (81-38, a .681 winning percentage), leading the Aztecs to three Mountain West titles and bowl games in all nine seasons at the helm, per the University.

He’s coming off a 10 win campaign in 2019 after throttling Central Michigan in the New Mexico Bowl 48-11. The Aztecs are one of 10 schools that have won at least 10 games in four of the last five seasons, all of those led by Rocky Long.

While on the surface it seems strange that a coach with this much success would leave a University still looking to coach football, but there seems to be a reason why.

Bruce Feldman of The Athletic reported that SDSU was pushing Rocky Long to make staff changes and “he didn’t want the Aztecs telling him what to do with his program.”

When you’re a head coach you have to make a lot of these tough decisions. Dino Babers, for instance, had to fire his old defensive coordinator Brian Ward and he’s been thinking of making other changes. Dino said this was the first time he’s ever had to fire members of his coaching staff.

This also explains why Rocky Long would want to take a lesser role as a defensive coordinator.

Speaking of the defensive coordinator role, what chops does Long have as a defensive mastermind? Here are some answers:

“Since Long took over as the defensive coordinator in 2009, San Diego State ranks 11th in rush defense (129.6) and interceptions (163), 14th in total defense (340.4), 20th in scoring defense (22.2), 22nd in turnovers caused (255) and 26th in defensive pass efficiency (122.0).

In the last 7 games of the 2019 season, the Aztecs ranked fifth in the nation in allowing 4.7 yards per play while limiting the opposition to 19 points or less on five occasions.” – per SDSU.

On paper, there are no direct links between Rocky Long and Dino Babers, but they have both worked at San Diego State (at separate times during their coaching careers).

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