Jim Herrick is Director of SDSU’s Alumni Association. This post first appeared in his blog, Directly Speaking.
I had the honor of spending some quality time recently with our new head football coach, Rocky Long. Just as a
review for those of you who may not have noticed: Coach Long was New Mexico’s coach for 11 years where he went to 7 bowl games, racked up the second most wins of any Mountain West coach ever, and regularly beat us, including the infamous 2008 70-7 stomping.
Rocky was a huge hit with our friends and fans (at the Aztec Caravans in) Sacramento, San Francisco and San Jose. People seem to really appreciate his disarming candor and his easy-going style. But, like our fans, I was eager to understand the coach beneath the demeanor. What I learned during some of the down and travel times was that Coach Long is a believer in toughness. More than any other singular attribute, he has recruited toughness for two years and will continue that trend. The theory is that in the end of close games in the sport of football, the quality enables one side to draw a bit deeper into their reserves of physical endurance and mental resolve, thereby yielding the difference we covet.
Rocky also talked a lot about how he and his staff are keenly aware of players’ ability to change direction on the field. As a fan and more than casual observer of the sport, this makes a lot of sense to me. This ability leads me to believe our team will be comprised of big, strong, fast and tough guys who can stop on a dime and explode on a new vector.
Finally, Rocky is a genuinely good guy. Despite an authentic resume of proven success as a Division One head coach, he is even keeled, without monstrous ego, and fun to be around. I see this working out well for everyone except our opponents.