A good friend of mine back here in Chicago was once the QB at New Mexico in the early 1970's. He has stayed involved in the program and is a friend and fan of Rocky who also just happened to be a QB at New Mexico.
He felt that Rocky stepped down because of the unreasonable expectations of a luke warm fan base. He went on to say that everyone wants a big winner every year but that is pretty hard to do in a place like Albuquerque unless everyone gets behind the team and stays involved. He said that wasn't the case as long as he has been involved in the program.
The former Lobo quarterback concluded he couldn't produce a conference title without better fan support.
“I don't see it happening with me as the head coach. If you want to compete with the big boys, you've got to act like it," Long said.
BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall feels Rocky Long deserved better from New Mexico's fans. One day after Long stepped down after 11 seasons as New Mexico's coach, Mendenhall complained Tuesday about what he perceived as a lack of community support for Long's hard work and success.
“Coach Long has shaped my coaching philosophy more than any other coach,” Bronco Mendenhall - BYU Head Coach
The BYU coach said he has modeled himself after Long's work ethic, his meticulous preparation, a steadfast belief in his players' abilities and a refusal to acknowledge critics' claims.
“I admire his courage and integrity to walk away,” Mendenhall said. “He has done a phenomenal job and now he's ready for someone else to take over. ... I admire it. It is remarkable in today's world of college athletics.”
Long was the starting QB for the New Mexico from 1969 to 1971, recording consecutive winning seasons and earning player-of-the-year honors in the WAC in 1971.
His professional career began with the BC Lionsin 1972, with whom he would play 68 games in total. In 1974 he departed to Detroit of the up-start WFL. That year he intercepted 3 passes for 38 return yards, and returned 20 punts (for 217 yards) and 14 kickoffs for 402 yards. He returned to the BC Lions for 3 years and had one of his best years in 1975, when he intercepted a team high 8 passes for 88 yards. A Western All-Star in 1977, Long also led the team in punt returns in his last 3 years, and is still the 4th leading all-time returner, with 1946 yards on 192 punt returns, with one TD.
Long started his coaching career as a Ga at his alma mater in 1972. He then moved into the HS ranks for a couple of years before returning to New Mexico as a full time assistant with responsibilities in the secondary. From 1981 through 1985 he was defensive coordinator at Wyoming. He moved on the CFL after that coaching linebackers for the BC Lions. He then did a brief stint at TCU coaching the secondary before moving to Oregon State as DC from 1991-1995. He then was hired by UCLA's Bob Toledo to run his defense for a couple of years before getting his dream job as head coach at New Mexico.
In eleven years at New Mexico he complied a 65-69 record going to five bowl games. He was able to finish as high as second in the Mountain West three times during his tenure. His team fell to 4-8 this season and he elected to step down as head coach saying it was time for a change.
"It's a sad day for New Mexico football that Coach Long will no longer be our leader," [Athletic Director Paul] Krebs said. "In my opinion, Rocky's 11-year tenure is the best 11 years in the history of our football program."
Whats interesting is that Long stepped out of the usual guarded state most head coaches are in to deliver a series of blunt statements.
"In 2005, we did a terrible job of coaching and this year we did a terrible job of coaching," he said. "Other than that, I think our staff, our players have been overachievers every other year."
I don't know about the rest of you guys but I happen to think that Rocky Long is exactly the person the Washington Huskies need as a defensive coordinator. He has fantastic experience and he just happens to be one of the few coaches who has figured out how to slow down the spread offense.
With Rocky Seto stepping out of the picture lets hope the rumors are true and Rocky Long is headed to Washington.