By Bo Carter
FORT WORTH, Texas (Dec. 18, 2017) – San Diego State head coach Rocky Long’s Texas and Army connections are many as he prepares the 10-2 Aztecs for the 15th annual Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl Saturday at 2:30 p.m. (CST) at TCU’s Amon Carter Stadium against 9-3 Army West Point.
Not only did Long wreak havoc on several opponents from Texas during his days as an option quarterback at New Mexico from 1969-71, but he also has an affinity for the armed forces. His father served during World War II and had a 30-year career as a U.S. Army officer.
He also served a stint on numerous Saturdays at Amon Carter Stadium as TCU’s defensive backs coach under the late Horned Frogs head coach Jim Wacker from 1988-90.
Later, Long proved just as competitive against multiple Texas teams as head coach at New Mexico in the Mountain West Conference from 1998-2008 and guided the Lobos to five bowls over six seasons from 2002-07.
And though this is his first bowl encounter with Army West Point, he knows from playing service academy foes Air Force in the Mountain West and Navy in bowl games that the Aztecs will be meeting a disciplined, well-coached opponent.
“I think Army has simplified it (option offense) because they don’t run as much triple option as Air Force and Navy do,” Long said. “But they do run zone read option because they want the quarterback (Ahmad Bradshaw) to carry the ball. The quarterback carrying the ball gives you an extra blocker. If you are actually reading the triple option, there are two extra blockers.”
And with these two ball-control, high-scoring offensive attacks, the SDSU coach joked that this could be one of the shortest college football games of the 2017 regular season or postseason.
“That’s what we try to do, too,” Long stated. “If it wasn’t for TV and commercials, it would probably be the shortest game in history.”
Besides his great sense of humor, the veteran coach has proven that he can take moribund programs and make them into annual bowl and conference contenders with his national connections and savvy.
In his 11 seasons at UNM, the native of Provo, Utah, rejuvenated the Lobos with those five bowl outings and seven consecutive six-win campaigns.
After serving two seasons as defensive coordinator at San Diego State, he moved up to head coach in 2011 and has guided the Aztec powerhouse to seven straight bowl appearances and three MWC titles or divisional crowns while going 64-28 overall.
The “Long” and short of it: head coach Rocky Long is ready to make a triumphant return to Fort Worth in SDSU’s first appearance at the LMAFB and to take the Aztecs to their third bowl triumph in the last four seasons.