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San Diego State's Rocky Long steps down, Brady Hoke promoted to head coach

After leaving San Diego State, Brady Hoke became the head coach at Michigan while Rocky Long, his defensive coordinator, was promoted to SDSU's head coach. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Rocky Long’s time at San Diego State has come to an end. 

After nine seasons coaching the Aztecs, Long is “retiring” from his position as head coach, the school announced. The news comes two days after Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel reported that Long has been shopping himself for defensive coordinator jobs and made a recent visit to Syracuse to speak with Dino Babers about the Orange’s DC opening. 

Long, 69, had a winning record in each of his seasons coaching the Aztecs, including a 10-3 mark in 2019. Overall, Long accumulated an 81-38 record at SDSU and his teams won three Mountain West titles, including back-to-back championships in 2015 and 2016.

Long’s teams have won at least 10 games in four of the last five seasons. SDSU got to 10 wins in 2019 and sent Long out a winner with a 48-11 win over Central Michigan in the New Mexico Bowl on Dec. 21.

When he was asked about his trip to Syracuse, Long told the San Diego Union-Tribune on Monday that he was “talking football for a couple days,” but added that he was still the head coach at SDSU “as of now.” He also told the paper that he was set to have his first post-Christmas staff meeting back on campus on Wednesday.

SDSU athletic director John David Wicker said in a statement Monday that Long visits other programs throughout the country “to talk about his unique 3-3-5 defense and to get ideas he may wish to implement into our program.” Wicker also said he was “in the process” of sitting down with Long to “discuss ways we can improve our program.”

According to Bruce Feldman of The Athletic, the SDSU administration wanted Long to consider some staff changes but the coach wasn’t too happy about it. 

Before being named the team’s head coach in 2011, Long spent two seasons as SDSU’s defensive coordinator. That came on the heels of an 11-year stint as the head coach at New Mexico. Long had a 65-69 record during that span with the Lobos and reached five bowl games. Long resigned after the 2008 season. 

Before becoming a head coach, Long had was the defensive coordinator at Wyoming, Oregon State and UCLA.

Brady Hoke replaces Long

Long’s successor will be a familiar face and a man who has already been the school’s head football coach. Before he was promoted to head coach, Long was the defensive coordinator for Brady Hoke at SDSU. Hoke left the school in January 2011 for the head job at Michigan and now Hoke is the head coach of the Aztecs once again.

Hoke first landed at SDSU after a six-year stint at Ball State, including a 12-win 2008 season. The Aztecs went 4-8 in his first year on the job before a jump to 9-4 in 2010. That season, plus Hoke’s success at Ball State and his history as a longtime Michigan assistant, helped him get the job to replace Rich Rodriguez in Ann Arbor. 

Hoke lasted just four seasons at Michigan. The Wolverines went 11-2 and won the Sugar Bowl in his first season but were a combined 20-18 (12-12 Big Ten) over his last three years. He was fired after going 5-7 in 2014. Since then, Hoke has bounced around between several jobs, including Oregon, Tennessee and a one-year stint as the defensive line coach of the Carolina Panthers.

After the year in the NFL, Hoke spent the 2019 season back at SDSU as Long’s defensive line coach and even got a Gatorade bath from the team at the end of the New Mexico Bowl win.

San Diego State assistant coach Brady Hoke gets a Gatorade bath after SDSU's win over Central Michigan in December. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

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