Roderick “Rocky” Long Jr. is the winningest coach of San Diego State’s Division I era. He took a team that could never win games against Power 5 opponents and has turned it into a program that has won 4 of its last 5 against the Pac-12. He has also done the seemingly impossible -- winning on The Blue not once, but twice.
Which is why I’m here, actually.
Now, I understand that none of those things above are reasons for you, a loyal Boise State Broncos fan, to like the man. Quite the opposite, in fact! Yet if you take off your blue-tinted shades for a moment, I would like to make the case that Long is not only the best coach in the Mountain West Conference, he is the most likable one as well.
Here are eight reasons you should melt your icy potato hearts and warm to Rocky Long.
1. Rocky Long gives zero (cares)
The typical football coach speaks to the media in either bland platitudes or patronizing obfuscation. Rocky uses the media and his completely DGAF personality like a weapon. It’s a little off-putting from afar -- it’s probably the main reason y’all dislike him -- but when you see it every day and are hip to the game, it’s damn entertaining. He’s basically Mike Leach without a publicist or a history of locking kids in electrical closets.
Rocky’s remarks come in a few different flavors:
- A bold (often questionable) statement meant to rile up somebody for either competitive advantage or pure trolling enjoyment (See: unfair blue field).
- In the mid-2000s when he was coaching New Mexico, we actually used to hate Rocky because of how badly he owned SDSU, both on the field and off. He regarded the Aztecs (rightly) as a soft program, and even once mocked former head coach Tom Craft’s hand signals during a press conference. If you know where to track down the lost footage please DM me. I know people who will pay good cash for this.
- Talking about how his own team belongs in a trash can.
- I swear, if you listen to Rocky -- particularly early in the season -- you would conclude his team is basically San Jose State after a typhus outbreak. EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE IS BAD.
In a Rocky wikihole now. Just learned he once played cornerback and returned punts for a World Football League team co-owned by Marvin Gaye.— Aztecs Killing Him (@AKH_blog) June 29, 2017
- Unexpected glimpses into his strange life and personal philosophy. Speaking of which:
2. Rocky Long is a resident of Ocean Beach
In my opinion, the most amusing thing about Rocky is where he chooses to live. The guy is basically Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino without the casual racism (the great account @showlumni recently dubbed him Grandpa Angrywins), and yet he lives in Ocean Beach.
For those of you who don’t know in San Diego well, OB is the neighborhood from the beginning of “Almost Famous” and it’s still home to San Diego’s counterculture. It’s basically full hippies in white boy dreads, stoned surfers and gutter punks who nap underneath the pier. It has a vegetarian co-op grocery store which is caddy corner to a vegan fast food joint (I actually frequent both -- don’t @ me).
And one gets the impression that our tough guy football coach lives there because of these attributes, not in spite of them. Its where he can be Rocky without anyone cramping his style.
Classic Rocky Long: "In my neighborhood (OB) ... they don’t even know who I am. Other than asking for a dollar or two, they don’t bother me.— Tod Leonard (@sdutleonard) November 17, 2015
3. Rocky is the most meme-worthy coach in the MWC
On Aztecs Twitter -- basically the same 25 people incessantly arguing with soccer bros about proposed river parks and making the same “isn’t even a state” joke over and over again -- Rocky Long’s eccentric personality has essentially taken on a life of its own. Together, we have come to the conclusion that:
- Rocky owns multiple 1970s muscle cars, at least half of which are on blocks.
Rocky continued: "You ever been to Houston? Can't find a decent transmission shop to save your life. Texas thinks they're tough but it's just a buncha yahoos driving around in automatics." https://t.co/3Ywn83F8oa— attempted chemistry (@AttemptedChem) March 12, 2018
- Rocky has seen ZZ Top live in concert no fewer than 10 times.
- Rocky definitely hangs out with the hobos in Ocean Beach when he needs to blow off steam.
What’s truly mind blowing is how often our fanciful assumptions actually end up close to the truth. An example: That thing about hanging out with OB hobos? We learned in the wake of last year’s Boise loss that he actually does this.
Rocky Long talks about how his philosopher neighbors helped him feel better about the outcome of the Boise St game. Yes...philosophers! pic.twitter.com/2xYSDRlbrF— Matt Skraby (@MattSkraby) October 19, 2017
4. Rocky Long hates BYU more than any of us
There are two kinds of people from Utah. You’re either the most arrogant, self-righteous BYU fanboy or fangirl in history, or you hate that Provo school, its team and all for which it stands.
Rocky, who was actually born in Provo, is firmly in the latter crowd.
5. Rocky Long has Pacific Northwest roots
Yo, check it:
Important archival image of Rocky Long returning an interception (or punt or possibly a 'rouge') for the BC Lions pic.twitter.com/UImaM4RILV— Kabeer Thirty (@kabeerthirty) October 9, 2018
HE PROBABLY EATS FRY SAUCE, YOU GUYS.
6. Rocky Long is the least greedy football coach you know
Let me preface this by saying that every college football coach is overpaid. Every one of them.
But Rocky is not a guy who’s going to toss his Christmas tree out on the curb so he can add another zero to his paycheck. He’s satisfied making $872K in a conference where five programs pay coaches over a million (Bryan Harsin makes a million five), he has dismissed talk of leaving for a bigger job (in fairness, he’s 68) and he has often deferred pay raises to give his assistants a bump.
Still overpaid, yes. Just … less than almost all his peers.
7. Rocky Long is on the cusp of his nicest accomplishment yet
Rocky Long is 68-30 in his eight years at SDSU. This means on Friday against Air Force, he can win his 69th game as an Aztec while moving his winning percentage to -- I kid you not -- .6969696969. THIS IS IMPORTANT. The Falcons should quite honestly forfeit out of respect.
8. Rocky Long has a verified Twitter account that he has not used since 2015.
Let this be an example to us all.
Not convinced? Here are some additional Rocky Long facts from the bloggers at kabeerthirty.com:
“If you were to press Rocky Long’s fingerprints on vinyl, the right thumbprint would play Thin Lizzy’s ‘Jailbreak,’ while the left plays KISS’s ‘Love Gun.’”
- “Forearms. Just look at them babies.
- Spends his offseason mostly in the Napa Auto Parts parking lot.
- Openly hates that kicking is part of football. Despite having the best kicker in the nation.”
“When he rides up and rips out your soul he does it with pure benevolent intention.”
Thank you, AKH, for your humor! It really helps soften the blow to know we can all look back on this and laugh! (Maybe in 2043 for some of us to have our lulz.)